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AT&T rolls out upgrade to U-verse DVRs

Phone giant's upgrade, called Total Home DVR, enables users to record and play back up to four programs simultaneously. It can also accommodate up to eight TV sets.

AT&T is upgrading the digital video recorder on its U-Verse Internet-based television service, allowing users to record and play back multiple programs on up to eight televisions.

The upgrade, called Total Home DVR, is free as part of a U-verse subscription, which costs from $44 to $99 a month. The service is already available in the San Francisco Bay Area and is expected to be rolled out to all customers by the end of the year, the company said.

Total Home DVR, which can store up to 133 hours of standard-definition programs or 37 hours of high-definition programming, can also simultaneously play back four SD recordings or three in HD.

While DVRs have made it easier to watch programs whenever viewers want, they are considered a key component to attracting and retaining customers in the market for bundled Internet, video, and phone services.

The upgrade gives AT&T bragging rights against rival Verizon Communications, whose Fios TV service offers programming access from seven televisions, compared with AT&T's eight. However, Verizon still dominates the sector, with 1.4 million subscribers, compared with AT&T's 549,000. AT&T hopes that the Total Home DVR will help it achieve its stated goal of 1 million subscribers by the end of the year.