AT&T says U-verse sales up "dramatically", total 10,000

NEW YORK (Reuters) - AT&T Inc. has sold its U-verse video service to more than 10,000 customers after sales rose dramatically in the past several weeks, said Ralph de la Vega, group president of AT&T’s regional wireline operations.

His comments come amid some concerns that the top U.S. phone company may be having difficulty expanding U-verse, which is delivered over a high-speed, fiber-optic network and aims to lure customers away from cable companies’ all-in-one packages of video, voice and Internet.

The U-verse network expansion had previously shown signs of running behind schedule, with the service launched in 11 markets by the end of 2006, rather than an originally planned 15 markets. U-verse had 3,000 customers at the end of 2006.

“In terms of U-verse, I am really pleased with what I’ve seen in the last few weeks,” de la Vega said at a Bank of America conference in New York on Wednesday.

“Our sales have dramatically increased over the last several weeks,” he said, adding that AT&T now had more than 10,000 U-verse video customers.

The company is aiming to make the U-verse service available to 8 million consumers by the end of the year. AT&T has not given an end-year target for subscribers.

Verizon Communications Inc., the second-biggest U.S. phone company, is also selling its own Internet-based video service, called FiOS. It has shown more progress than U-verse, with 207,000 customers at the end of 2006.

AT&T shares were down 32 cents at $38.12, while Verizon shares were down 45 cents at $37.24.