I too have shares in @Home and was quite surprised to see AT&T do something that smart. The answer to your question is easy:every telephone company in the country is trying to find a way to directly connect to residential customers without going the local phone system. LD carriers want to provide local service without making major infrastructure investments or relying on their competitors (the LECs) to wholesale it to them. Most LD carriers also want to provide broadband access to their customers. If a LD carrier uses the LECs to provide these services, the profit margins are very thin and the retail prices very high. LD carriers and ISPs want to dramatically increase the market for broadband access by lowering prices. But the LECs charge monopoly
prices (consider the high expense of ISDN) and that represses demand. The beauty of cable is that it has the capacity to do everything: local, long distance, entertainment, Internet, ... Another appealing feature is that the access costs will be much lower than what local exchange carriers charge. The only alternative to cable is wireless, which is not profitable on the residential side and lacks bandwidth.