Does AT&T Uverse Broadcast in 1080p?
By Alexis Rohlin
There are three types of HDTV broadcasting resolutions: 720p, 1080p and 1080i. 1080p is a video resolution for a high-definition television that is often referred to as Full HD by television manufacturers. Full HD means that the TV has the capability to display a 1080p signal and to upscale lower resolution signals such as 720p and 1080i to 1080p-quality pictures on your TV screen. AT&T Uverse broadcasts most of its channels in 1080i, not 1080p.
AT&T Uverse is a broadband TV, Internet and phone communications network. It utilizes fiber-optic cables to broadcast HDTV to your home and provide high-speed Internet access. AT&T Uverse broadcasts HD and standard definition channels and provides different customer packages that include Video On Demand, standard cable and HD premium channels. The H.264 encoding that Uverse broadcasts in provides HDTV programs by compressing video data and distributing it in a single stream or channel at a resolution of 1080i.
Most HDTV channels are broadcast in 1080i resolution. Programs broadcast in 1080i are sent at a ratio of 30 frames per second. Each frame has 1,808 vertical pixels interlaced with 1,920 horizontal pixels to create a continuous picture on your TV screen. Because 1080i is broadcast in an interlaced image, images such as a speeding car can blur when they move fast. The lines of the image are not rendered contiguously, which can cause a "messy" or blurred picture. It can also cause image skipping, where it looks like the image is delivered in stop-motion photography.
Some HD sports channels provided by AT&T Uverse, like ESPN, broadcast games in 720p resolution instead of 1080i. 720p is broadcast in a ratio of 60 frames per second. Each frame of the progressively scanned image has 1280 vertical pixels and 720 horizontal pixels. The low resolution of 720p is better suited for broadcasting moving objects. The smaller amount of displayed progressive scanned data prevents fast-moving images -- such as a player running to catch the ball -- from blurring on your TV screen.
Why Not 1080p?
1080p HDTV resolution has the same number of pixels -- 1080i per frame -- but the image is sent at 60 frames per second instead of 30. The higher rate of frames per second in the progressive scanning of 1080p means that it takes up to twice the bandwidth as 1080i. Subsequently, many TV cable companies transmit or broadcast data in 1080i to prevent lag in the cable feed. This results in a lower resolution picture, but without the inconvenience of having your TV picture freeze or skip ahead without showing all of the program you are watching.
Alexis Rohlin is a professional writer for various websites. She has produced works for Red Anvil Publishing and was one of the top 10 finalists in the 2007 Midnight Hour Short Story Contest for OnceWritten.com. Rohlin holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in English from Madonna University.