Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation SBC Communications recently acquiredAT&T (NYSE:T) and chose to adopt the latter's old, venerated -- and, some might say, too old-fashioned -- name. But this doesn't look like your father's AT&T. On Wednesday, the company revealed that it will launch an online news station dedicated to security issues. Given telecom companies' increasing need to woo and keep all the customers they can, this move could prove to be a great idea -- or a costly effort.

The AT&T Internet Security News Network will be a 24-hour channel, available to corporate and government subscribers to the company's AT&T Internet Protect service. (So far, those subscribers number only in the hundreds.) The service will have anchors, and it will stream video news regarding viruses, worms, and other security threats via the Internet.

It's tempting to think that the 24-hour news channel might become a wasted effort to drum up more interest in AT&T's security services. Many companies that deal with IT security, such as McAfee (NYSE:MFE) and Symantec (NASDAQ:SYMC), already send out email alerts to notify users of important problems. With only a relative handful of existing customers, AT&T's news service could either become a more compelling reason for subscribers to sign on, or an expense investors may later question if it fails to bring in those new subscribers.

I've often written about the telecom industry's current tough times. AT&T faces competition not only from soon-to-be-joined telecoms Verizon (NYSE:VZ) and MCI (NASDAQ:MCIP), but also from cable giants like Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA). Even big-name Internet companies are clamoring to add Internet-routed voice calls to their own chat applications. It's clear that the new and supposedly improved AT&T needs to stand out from its competitors, especially through innovative products and services. Its new online news channel, however, sounds like it could be too big of a risk.

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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.