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Things continue to heat up in the world of triple play. AT&T last week announced that it will begin to roll out its U-verse (IPTV, wireless, data and voice bundle) package on a limited basis in the San Francisco Bay Area. It also announced that it will scale back its initial rollout plans, a move that has raised some questions. Meanwhile, GigaOM provides a by-the-numbers report indicating that Verizon is pulling ahead of AT&T in the triple-play race.

Verizon this week also revealed plans to market its FiOS IPTV service in retail outlets in shopping centers. The 5,000-square-foot stores, named Verizon Experience, will exhibit the qualities of its IPTV and other broadband-based services through product demos  no doubt using high-def flat panel displays and digital surround sound systems to wow consumers. Two stores have opened in Fairfax, Virginia, and Southlake, Texas (near Verizon’s most developed FiOS markets). Read the AP story (via paidContent).

On the cable end of things, Comcast put out a release this week saying that it will invest US$80,000 in the San Francisco Bay Area to work on its network infrastructure to increase broadband speeds (more from the San Francisco Chronicle). This is likely a response to AT&T’s recent moves into this market.

Retaining cable and broadband subscribers while continuing to gain voice and wireless customers (VoIP service via cable Internet) in this and other key markets will be a priority for Comcast. Cable and telcos will also continue to move into each others’ territories as the triple-play arms race moves forward in ’07.

As we pointed out in a recent Advisory (“Triple and Quad Play: Who Will Win the Bundled Services Battle?”), this will have consumer retention benefits, but more importantly position providers to distribute content and advertising across a “continuity of services” product bundle, and across all the devices that will be the central media outlets of our lives.

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