Q. I’ve been thinking of getting AT&T TV today, but I was wondering if you need to get the AT&T set-top they offer. I don’t want to wait around for the thing to be delivered. Couldn’t I just download an app and start watching today? — Curt, St. Louis.

Curt, let me first explain to our readers what AT&T TV is.

Update: You Do NOT Need the AT&T TV Set-Top

The new Internet-based service offers DIRECTV’s programming packages over an AT&T-supplied set-top. Once you connect the set-top, you can also watch AT&T TV on tablets, smart phones and some streaming devices using an AT&T TV app.

AT&T TV’s promotional prices, which now start at $49.99 a month, are identical to the satellite TV service. But like DIRECTV’s promotional plans, AT&T TV requires a two-year agreement for the first-year promo prices, and monthly fees roughly double in year two.

(And, like DIRECTV, you must pay a cancellation fee for every month left in the two-year deal if you leave early. AT&T TV charges $15 a month if you cancel while DIRECTV requires a $20 a month penalty.)

Now to your question: Can you start watching on the app rather than having to wait for the set-top?

Sorry, the answer is no. For reasons AT&T has yet to explain, the company wants you to first install the set-top, which is mailed to you after you order. It would seem easier for everyone if you could just download the app and start watching. But AT&T doesn’t always make it easy when it comes to TV, whether it’s DIRECTV, U-verse or AT&T TV.

I suspect that AT&T gets some marketing and advertising benefits by putting set-tops in homes. But, again, that’s just a guess. For now, AT&T says it’s their way or the highway.

If it helps, Curt, AT&T says the set-top is shipped via express, which means it should be there in a few days.

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— Phillip Swann