After years of promises, it looks like the Xbox 360 will finally be able to act as a television set-top box for AT&T U-Verse subscribers, starting next month.
The news isn’t official, but Engadget got some leaked documents that spell out the deal. AT&T will release a U-Verse update on October 17, and will switch on the Xbox 360 compatibility on November 7. Just a couple gotchas: U-Verse subscribers will still need at least one AT&T set-top box or DVR in the home, and the Xbox 360 needs to have a hard drive.
The main benefit to using an Xbox 360 is cost savings. One of the documents says “No MRC for Xbox receiver,” which I think refers to monthly rental cost. Additional U-Verse receivers cost $7 per month, so subscribers could save $84 per year by using an Xbox 360 instead. Juggling fewer set-top boxes and remote controls is also a plus.
Microsoft first touted the Xbox 360’s IPTV capabilities in 2007, at the Consumer Electronics Show. Microsoft’s Mediaroom television software, which is used by more than two dozen television providers worldwide, can technically run on the Xbox 360, but until now, few providers have actually done it. In the United Kingdom, BT started supporting the Xbox 360 in 2008, but could not actually send live television to the console. In Canada, Telus switched on Xbox 360 support in August, becoming the first provider in North America to do so.
U-Verse’s arrival will be better late than never. But if the IPTV feature was available three years ago, Xbox 360s acting as second receivers would’ve almost paid for themselves by now.