As I previously noted, I wanted to give U-Verse a go… and it was a no-brainier now that AT&T is offering $200 cash back just to try it out for 30 days (actually 37, since you have to give them time to issue you the cash back, but either way… still an excellent deal).
And, as with the TiVo CableCARD installation, I’ve decided to liveblog this one. After all, like my CableCARD install… I’ve waited a bit for U-Verse to become mainstream. There should be no real issues with the installation, but if there are, it’s a good time to point them out (since, well, AT&T is exiting the early adopter phase for U-Verse).
1:25 PM AT&T has said that U-Verse should be here between 12 and 2 PM. Still haven’t seen them, but we’re inside of the installer arrival window. I’ve already told Comcast to jump off a cliff, and I reluctantly set my SureWest Fiber To The Home (FTTH) account to close at midnight. That was a tough phone call to make, I’m trading 20 mbps down and 20 mbps up for $90/month, for 18 mbps down and 1 (yes, one) megabit up for $65/month.
1:31 PM Just got a call from the U-Verse installer, letting me know that he’s on his way.
1:50 PM The U-Verse truck has arrived.
2:02 PM We got our game plan set. While we could use the existing coax to power the TVs… I don’t trust the coax in my house. So, we’re going CAT5 over my existing network. And, as usual, this is their first 18 mbps install in the area.
Only complaint so far, the install tech is chomping on gum with his mouth open. Highly unprofessional.
2:05 PM The installer is off to the VRAD down the street to enable everything on that end. Unlike the old U-Verse installs, this shouldn’t require a second install tech to come out and finish the job.
2:18 PM Yes, there will be photos. Right now the tech is wiring up the VRAD. It actually appears surprisingly old tech inside of there… you’ll see.
And, of course, I’ve gotten the usual 20 questions about how I know so much about all of this 🙂
I just give them the dot-com startup story, and explain about how it’s in our interest at MechaWorks to get fiber out there to everyone. Yes, we’re working on high-bandwidth stuff, but I’ve mentioned that already.
2:32 PM The install has hit its first real snag. The wiring in the house was set up in the pre-DSL era. As such, it’s not really well-designed to handle U-Verse.
Long story short, they’re having to run CAT5 basically in a circle around the house. Not a huge deal, and not something out of the ordinary… but it will add a lot of time to the job.
3:03 PM Uh oh. No sync on the line. Not good. That means that even though the wiring is set up, it’s not seeing AT&T upstream.
Part of the problem lies in that I never used AT&T for local phone, so this is a dry loop install… with possibly bad wiring. SureWest had completely bypassed AT&T (complete with their own phone jacks) in the house, by running their own lines. So, the U-Verse installer is trying to diagnose the wiring problem.
The installer just had to call others to get some guidance on what to try next… we’re in for a fun time.
3:13 PM We’re in hunting mode. The installer has to go back to the VRAD and make sure the right line is being run to the house. The house wasn’t properly numbered at the VRAD, likely due to that the house hasn’t had AT&T service since before the VRAD was deployed.
Long story short, this wouldn’t be happening if you had plain old telephone service (POTS) from AT&T. That said, this isn’t a good thing. U-Verse is targeting the kind of people that don’t have… much less want… an archaic phone line. They’re going after the customer that has already dumped their phone line for VoIP, or their cell phone.
3:22 PM While we’re waiting for the wiring hunt to finish, I guess it’s a good point to talk about my setup. I mentioned the internet part previously, so let’s look at the TV setup.
Right now I have two HDTVs that need to be switched. One has a TiVo HD connected to it. The other is running cable via ClearQAM, with a standard def digital tuner for Comcast On Demand content. Not perfect, but I refuse to pay $7/month to give the second HDTV a non-DVR tuner.
U-Verse will solve this though. Both tuners will be HD DVR, and allow for transferring of recorded programs.
And, what of my TiVo HD? I plan to keep it (as an OTA DVR), but only if TiVo negotiates the rate down. My contract is up with TiVo in April, and if they don’t play ball… it’s getting shut off. Yes, TiVo will negotiate with you on the service rate, especially after your initial one year contract is up.
3:37 PM My U-Verse installer is sitting out in his truck, on the phone. Not good. It means he probably didn’t find the connection at the VRAD to my house… or that something unknown is broken along the VRAD-Home-Indoor chain.
3:41 PM The problem wasn’t the wiring in the house, and it wasn’t the VRAD. It was the circuit in between. This means that a wiring team has to come out, and run a new line up. As I suspected feared, because I didn’t have POTS (recently), this never was run.
Now it’s at-risk that the install can get finished today. The wiring team will have to be deployed immediately, in order to meet the cutoff time. If they’re tied up (no pun), the wiring team won’t be able to make it out. Worse, if the wiring team even does make it out, it’s even more questionable as to if the U-Verse installer can come back to set up the router and set top boxes (STBs).
Now is time for me to start getting nervous. I may be without internet and television service come tonight.
3:50 PM The wiring team has been dispatched, but they have no idea when they’ll come out. It could be within the hour, any hour tonight… or tomorrow. I’m surprised (and not in a good way) that U-Verse doesn’t have some ETA system for the wiring techs.
It’s not reasonable to ask me to sit here for an indefinite period, potentially spanning multiple days… forced to sit at home for every second. AT&T once again forgets people have day jobs. And, in this fiercely competitive market, that’s A Bad Thing™.
So, now I sit, wait, cancel appointments, and lose money. Thanks AT&T!
5:50 PM After waiting two hours, I decided to call U-Verse Customer Service, and demand an ETA for the wiring team. The customer service rep on the phone is working on that, and says that she will call the local office if it’s needed to get me one.
6:50 PM After a first nice-but-incompetent rep, we have progress.
The first rep was nice, but then not nice… and everything in between. She was courteous, but didn’t want to disclose technical reasons. Then, she insisted that I could not get U-Verse deployed for “at least two days.” I wanted to suggest things like reconstructing the orders… and quoting her “I won’t get into that.”
Needless to say, I was not upset when my phone dropped the call a half hour in.
Called back a second time and got Katie. Thank you Katie. This is the kind of support that I was told to expect from U-Verse support… and starting to fear was dead. She re-structured the order locked in back-to-back appointments for the wiring crew, and the installer.
Score card for U-Verse Customer Service now stands at one thumb up, and one thumb down. We’ll pick this up tomorrow.
Update: You can jump to day two’s liveblog right here.
Do you know anything about the dimensions of equipment used to setup U-Verse in an apartment complex? AT&T informed me the device is a small box that will be wall-mounted near where the phone/cable lines enter the complex, probably in the basement. Beyond that, my understanding is they utilize the existing coax if it is in good shape to come up to the apartment. Any information you have would be appreciated.