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Cisco, AT&T to bring wireless cable boxes

Cisco's ISB7005 wireless receiver.

Cisco's ISB7005 wireless receiver. Credit: Cisco

AT&T just announced it will debut a wireless set-top box that streams HD cable broadcasts over a Wi-Fi connection – giving its U-verse customers the ability hook up cable TV anywhere within their home wireless network, without running those ugly coaxial cables throughout the home (HDMI and power plug still needed).

The wireless cable box, dubbed ISB7005, is produced by Cisco and it’s the first of its kind. It has the same functions as the now old-school boxes -- full HD, TV guide and DVR capabilities -- that manage, play back recordings and pause and rewind live TV.

There is no word on range, but the technology runs on the 802.11n Wi-Fi standard, which can get up 230 feet indoors from a seperate Wireless Acces point, left. If this thing can be daisy-chained with an Airport Express, the distance could be even greater.

AT&T says that up to two boxes can be connected from a single router -- although it's unclear whether this is a technological limitation or a business strategy.

The box is a win-win for the cable provider and the customer. AT&T is going to save on installation costs and time. Customers could use the setup to move a TV outdoors on the fly. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if neighbors start chumming up to share the cable connection.

"AT&T is bringing a new freedom to the TV experience, giving consumers the benefit of watching TV in virtually any room in the home," AT&T's executive director of U-verse marketing, G.W. Shaw, said in a news release. "Cisco's wireless IPTV solution gives our customers flexibility with where they can place and watch their TVs, and offers a faster and simpler setup process for customers and U-verse technicians."

The boxes will be available next week for a onetime fee of $49, plus the standard monthly $7 per box rental fee for AT&T U-verse customers. Although it isn’t available in the metropolitan area, the good news is the box isn’t exclusive to AT&T. A Cisco representative said the company is looking to partner with any cable provider who wants to do business.

Let’s cross our fingers …


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