Since moving to Silicon Valley, I decided to give AT&T U-Verse another spin. I was using it in Sacramento before leaving… but of course I didn’t pass up a chance to tear Comcast a new one. I signed up for their teaser $20/month-for-12-mbps tier (which of course expires after a few months).
And, of course, I hit the 250 GB bandwidth cap on Comcast. Now, as I previously suggested… before departing Comcast, you should do this too, so that Comcast can’t keep the Affected Rate artificially low.
If that sounds rambling, I’ll put it another way. Comcast basically says 99% of people aren’t affected by the bandwidth cap. That’s because those folks quit Comcast right when the cap went in. So, by hitting the cap, you remove Comcast’s excuse that virtually nobody is affected by it. And, every three months I’m viewed as a new customer… and proudly (albeit very temporarily) switch back to Comcast… lather, rinse, repeat.
Okay, enough ranting on Comcast versus U-Verse. The great news is that my initial install took much less time (and only one premise technician). But, the install hit one snag. My apartment suffers from a chronic problem facing many buildings. And, that’s that many outlets aren’t ground wired.
Now, you probably know that the third prong on a three-prong outlet is the ground prong. It’s meant to provide electricity with an emergency exit. If something dangerous happens (say, a wire goes bare, touches the metal casing on a gadget), then the ground wire is used to pull the power away from the device (and most importantly, away from any human touching the device at the time).
In the late 80’s, three-pronged devices just started going into devices. At the time, electiricians were flooded with work orders to give every dwelling at least some three-pronged outlets. That’s why many still have some two-pronged and some three-pronged units.
Well, with all this renovation, corners got cut. Electiricans didn’t want to have to tell landlords and homeowners that they had to run ground wires. And, at the time, gadgets didn’t really need them… not on the 500W PSU situations that we often deal with today. So, the corners got cut, and the outlets weren’t grounded.
So, what was a small problem with the U-Verse install, led to the discovery that the entire complex’s electrical wiring is out-of-code… and hazardous in a few ways I didn’t even realize while looking at it (yes, there were that many layers to the problems). It’s like The Money Pit… everything looked fine, until it went to crud.
Oh, and somewhere in there, my insurance agent called (had to buy more insurance for MechaWorks)… so this came up. Apparently, it’s enough of a hazard that you can be disqualified from a renter’s insurance claim (should electrical and/or fire cause damage).
As such, if you rent, I strongly encourage you to get a wiring tester, or at least a surge strip with a dedicated wiring fault indicator (and make sure it says that it checks for wiring faults… not just surge protection). Oh, and have renters insurance… you never know what lies inside those walls.
And, with that, I’m now sitting back while electricians rewire nearly every outlet, as well as run grounding lines to the breaker, and down to the street. My condolences to the landlord… their wallets won’t be looking as good this Memorial Day. $3,000 less good.
Thanks Christopher, I found this of value. Thanks for your time sharing this.
I’m getting UVerse installed in a week… pretty excited, especially about the TV, the free access to AT&T’s wifi network, and the $250 rebate check. I hope my install goes as smoothly… there are some real horror stories, but I guess that can be said with most of these providers, but maybe even a bit more so with UVerse… it’s more complicated usually, thus the greater probability with install problems. I’m pretty technical though, so I should be monitoring everything with lots of questions, etc. The installer will love me.
U-verse was recommended to us by a financial planner as a way to save $$ on tv and internet service. The houses in our neighborhood are about 50 years old. So far, we’ve found two neighbors that had U-verse and say it’s crap. We’ve lived here several years and never had a landline in this house. Will AT&T run new wiring? Do I have to have a landline to use U-verse? Any advice or ideas why it’s not working well in my neighborhood?
They will run new wiring, you don’t need an existing phone line. But, they will have to run a phone line, since that’s what U-Verse connects to.
From my experience, there is no extra charge for this… I had to have it done at an older house once.
We’ve had u-verse for almost two weeks now. Installation was a breeze, and it all seems to be working great. The only complaint we have is with the sales person at the store ordering U200 for us instead of U100. He claimed he would fix it, but didn’t. I called customer support to downgrade and complain about the sales person, and they gave us the first month free.
Can anyone tell me the difference in performance from Comcast cable internet and U-Verse internet? This is my biggest concern regarding switching.
First off, U-Verse does not employ bandwidth throttling or capping. If you plan on using more than 250 GB/month, or use a lot of bandwidth during peak hours, U-Verse may be a cheaper and better option.
That said, Comcast is typically cheaper on their promo rates, until you get into the high tiers. Comcast promo rates for 16 mbps service typically runs $30 to $35/month, versus $65/month for U-Verse 18 mbps. But, Comcast has yet to roll out their faster tiers in many markets, so you also need to factor that in.
Finally, upload speed is significantly different. Comcast has synchronous service, which means you can upload and download simultaneously with ease. U-Verse relies on ADSL2+, which must throttle back download speeds while you are uploading. If you do a lot of uploading (BitTorrent, etc), Comcast is a much faster option. But, again, you need to keep in mind Comcast’s bandwidth capping and throttling in that decision.
This is the original Alan from the first comment. I have had Comcast for several years in two different locations, including this one.
The main difference I find between the two services is Comcast has never been nearly as stable as this UVerse. With Comcast, a few times a week, I would NOTICE the internet not working, and learned to go look at the Cable modem, and sure enough, the lights were flashing and it was trying to re-sync. Fortunately, it was usually back within 10 minutes. However, however brief, when you are using a VPN trying to work from home, these cut-offs and disturbances are highly frustrating and irritating. And worse, I’ve always had reasonable SNR and upstream power, like SNR of 37-ish or higher and upstream power output of around 45 dbmW. So these measurements should leave plenty of room for small line variations. So it wasn’t a physical line signal ability issue. It was a problem at the CMTS or node. I also have always used a well-respected Motorola Surfboard 5101 (my own) up until I tried their voice service, and they made me switch to another one. On all devices, same behavior.
Now, contrast this with my UVerse install in June. The Internet has literally NEVER gone down that I have noticed, and I’m on the Internet a lot. To me, I’d rather have half the speed and a super stable connection. If speed is of the utmost importance, and you’re willing to pay handily for it, then you can generally get much faster speeds in most Comcast service areas (ie, like 50 mbps or over). With UVerse, the top speed is only about 18 Mbps. However, I have always just subscribed to the 6 Mbps plan for price. I would recommend that unless you are within about 1500 feet from the VRAD, that you don’t elect to get the top 18 Mbps plan, even if they say you can get it. Reason is, signal degrades the further you get out, and even though you may be able to get it barely at a higher speed, the connection won’t have as much SNR “headroom” to avoid problems when there are small line disturbances and fluctuations. So if you are over about 1500 feet, I would stick to the 12 Mbps or under plan. It’s plenty fast enough anyway, for most people, unless you REALLY have to have the speed.
Honestly, Comcast would have to PAY me A LOT of money to switch to UVerse. I don’t even try to switch back and forth between them when an offer is up anymore, because UVerse internet is so solid if set up right and with the appropriate margin considerations. AND, it’s a much better “everyday price” deal anyway if you factor in the TV too (on the U-200 plan). Speaking of TV… I’m very satisfied with it. Had HD for awhile, then dropped it, as the SD is good enough for me. The HD quality was quite good, but not sure how it compares to HD with comcast as I never subscribed to HD w/comcast because the proposition was so expensive since with them, I would have had to pay also for an HD DVR (and I was using my own Tivo then).
The main place you may run into problems with UVerse is with the install. If it’s not installed by a good tech who wants to do a good job, it can sometimes be a pain, with multiple calls and multiple truck rolls before they finally send a tech that quickly sees what the problem is and fixes it. After a truck roll or two, they usually start sending a higher level tech out. So do your best to ensure a quality install (be there when the tech is there, ask lots of questions, and impress upon them that you want a really good install). Schedule the appt for the morning, so in case it goes over, you won’t be up all night or have to wait until the next day.
If it’s installed correctly, it’s pretty dreamy, and the TV is the most advanced TV platform overall than any of the big telcos or cable currently offer (that I’m aware of), including FIOS!! FIOS isn’t true IPTV all the way to the receiver, like UVerse is.
Also, don’t try to do double-nat through the gateway using your own router. If you want to do that, turn off DHCP on the router and just use as a switch. Also, make sure any DVR’s or Settop box’s are either using HPNA over your existing Coax, or if over ethernet, make sure each one has their own separate connection to the gateway (they can be bridged connections using high throughput powerline, but at the gateway, must plug into their own port).
I’m not going to go into all the technical details of what I said. I would just read this and try to understand the best you can, and you could also have your installer read this and ask him why I recommend whatever I do. If they are good, they will know.
If you have a few small follow up questions I can probably answer them.
Hope this helps! And good luck if you decide to make the jump. If installed well, and you have a decent signal, and you select an appropriate plan (one down from what you technically can get as far as Internet speed), then I believe you will be extremely satisfied with UVerse. I **LOVE** it, especially the rock solid internet!!
Good points Chris, but UVerse generally doesn’t use ADSL2+. It uses VDSL, and now, they have begun to slowly upgrade some markets to VDSL2 (not me yet, and I don’t care much until they also offer higher speed plans, etc.).
And I have never noticed any significant problem uploading and download simultaneously at full throttle (and I have a constant speed meter near my clock always showing network activity, with stats, different colors for upload and download, etc… if interested, its called Networx, and is great). And if you keep to one level of Internet lower than what you technically can get (per what the the sales person/web tells you), then you should have plenty of margin anyway.
I realize VDSL and ADSL2+ are both forms of DSL (VDSL being the newer/faster standard, but also with some trade-offs, like less distance, etc.), so what you say about potential simultaneous upload/download issues could still apply, but again, if you are on an appropriate speed plan (one lower than what they say the max eligible for your address is), then you should have plenty of margin for this not to be an issue at all. That’s what my understanding is anyway, and I was pretty ate up with learning about VDSL and UVerse before I had it installed, and even track it some now.
Anyway, thanks for making this forum, and also for allowing these comments. I hope they help a lot of people.
Last comment, in a row at least… I forgot one important thing. If you do sign up for UVerse, it has been my experience that you can learn a lot more with a lot less frustration typically, but visiting the uverse forums at the at&t uverse site and also the DSL Reports UVerse forum. Too often, when I call in, the reps don’t know about most of the solutions, etc that are posted even in their own forums. Even some important things, that you would think AT&T would distribute out, particularly in instances where it can save them money, which is many of them. For instance, they sent me a new remote for a problem that I finally figured out something I never would have one my own (wasn’t something you would think of), just by reading a couple months old forum thread. Trust me, unless things have drastically changed, you can often be a lot more efficient with your time by reviewing some of the forum threads. Plus the forums have employees that monitor them and offer to assist with issues, and they aren’t first level techs… they can usually spot something quickly plus cut through some red tape if you’re having problems getting assistance through the regular channels.
OK… I’m out.
For what it’s worth, I refer to ADSL2+ instead of VDSL since most people don’t know what VDSL is. They do get that ADSL2+ is a sequel to ADSL, and VDSL is almost identical for what U-Verse is using it for.
Searching the forums is great, but my issues have never been solved by them. In fact, my speed issues were typically faced with an on-site tech’s hand in his face and abandonment.
Perhaps it is because I’m on the faster tiers, but upload speed always impacted download speed. Even when my line was rated for 25 mbps down and 2 mbps up, and on the 18 mbps tier, it went to crud when uploads happened. Even worse if I dared to use the service as advertised, and ran a single HD stream alongside internet usage. Techs agreed, yeah, the line’s supposed to handle that… but no two speed tests would ever agree that I was getting what I was paying for.
In the end, I think U-Verse was a nice effort in the mindset of quickly upgrading away from the flaws of ADSL. Unfortunately, Comcast and Verizon are using DOCSIS 3.0 and FTTH to make that an losing battle.
Finally, while U-Verse does use Microsoft’s Mediaroom platform to deliver “the most advanced TV”, the picture quality is clearly the poorest of any solution available. This is universally agreed upon in every media outlet that has tested it (mine included). AT&T is heavily pixelating the WMV stream in order to fit multiple streams, ensuring 4 TVs can view simultaneously. Again, FiOS avoids this by delivering at a speed that allows them to push out a CableCARD signal. As an added benefit, FiOS lets you use TiVo and Windows Media Center.
Microsoft has been promising integration between Mediaroom and Xbox 360 for over four years. They just tested it on Sky TV in England, and had to pull the beta due to bugs. And, they were only testing video on demand, not Live TV. I wouldn’t expect U-Verse compatibility until the next generation Xbox hardware. An adapter for Windows Media Center would cost over $200 from all outside estimates.
And, FiOS compensates for the lack of IPTV by using IP communication over the fiber channel (at the STB). It can do anything Mediaroom can do.
In short, if I were AT&T, I’d be rolling out FTTH and VDSL simultaneously in markets of most demand. If someone wants FTTH speeds, or complains about picture quality, AT&T will inevitably have to run a fiber line at some point anyways, why alienate them so they’ll never try U-Verse again?
Replying to your last post:
“VDSL is almost identical for what U-Verse is using it for”
—> Agreed (right now, but that will change within a year or two).
“Searching the forums is great, but my issues have never been solved by them. In fact, my speed issues were typically faced with an on-site tech’s hand in his face and abandonment.”
—> Yes, even many/most of the techs aren’t nearly as well versed in the technology than a customer who combs through the forums, etc. But, within a few tech rolls, they WILL send one of their senior techs who WILL solve the problem.
When my installer came, I knew a lot more than him about many, many things. He basically only was a lot more knowledgeable where it came to actually doing the necessary changeover at the VRAD and the line splicing/etc he did at the outside terminal. I could cite like 10 things my knowledge has helped substantially with, and for me, I have solved many issues better by being aware of what’s out on the forums. They were even going to send a tech out once, and I insisted it wasn’t an on-site tech issue, until someone finally listened, I got a 2nd or 3rd level tech on the phone, and he adjusted the provisioning problem correctly on their side and my gateway.
Granted, most consumers aren’t going to go through all this (/shouldn’t have to). But many are willing to, and if you get the install done right, that’s 90% of the battle, almost all of the rest you can take care of via forums and by calling them with your informed request. Honestly, it was only the first couple weeks I had to deal with any of this, then after that it’s been rock solid and dreamy.
“Even when my line was rated for 25 mbps down and 2 mbps up, and on the 18 mbps tier, it went to crud when uploads happened.”
—-> 25 mbps/2mbps is the normal provisioning for TV and 6/1 internet (I know, that’s what I have, and I’m at about 1500′ loop lenght). Despite what many places on the Internet say, THIS IS SHARED bandwidth for TV (4 SD streams at ~4 mpbs OR 2 SD and 2 HD at ~6-7 mbps, all VBR) AND your internet. So if your gateway said you were provisioned at 25/2 and you had a higher speed Internet plan, then your gateway was provisioned too low, and no wonder you were having problems. Also, I suspect you may have been toward the periphery of the 3000′ distance limitation for the VRAD or had other line quality/loop length issues. They provisioned my gateway wrong once which caused problems, but because I knew what I did, I called in and got it fixed.
“In the end, I think U-Verse was a nice effort in the mindset of quickly upgrading away from the flaws of ADSL. Unfortunately, Comcast and Verizon are using DOCSIS 3.0 and FTTH to make that an losing battle.”
—> Well, I also think AT&T should have just bit the bullet and gone FTTH, but their FTTN then rest via copper isn’t as bad as it first appears. First, prices for all the fiber equipment/related technology just keep coming down, so by the time they do it, it’ll be much cheaper than much of Verizon’s early rollout, due to commoditization/economies of scale, and improved fiber technology over time. Second, VDSL still has plenty of legs once they upgrade to VDSL2. And third, what they are investing in UVerse is not all lost… since they will have fiber to the neighborhood already, and can just retrofit the VRAD, and build out fiber the rest of the way to the residences from there. In the end, they probably will only spend about 25% more than Verizon on FTTH through this roundabout way, AND will have made up most of that in the early revenue from at least being able to get something out much earlier than they otherwise could have. And don’t forget, for new developments, they have been going FTTH for years already. It’s just existing.
Also, keep in mind that Verizon had a lot more areas with overhead lines, which makes their FTTH job easier/cheaper for much of their footprint, so this also played into AT&T’s decision.
And lastly, even though VDSL will never match DOCSIS 3 in sheer speed (at any distance, anyway), it won’t matter for awhile, because most people aren’t willing to pay more than AT&T’s 12 Mbps plan anyway (when they have the choice between the two). This will gradually change, but by then, VDSL2 will be rolled out. So really, we’re looking at like 5 years down the road before DOCSIS 3 really starts to do any real damage because AT&T’s speeds will satisfy most customers until then, especially for the relatively value pricing. By then, they will no doubt start rolling out FTTH from their thousands of neighborhood cabinets already in place.
While I don’t have experience with DOCSIS 3 on a DOCSIS 3 modem, I know that at least on a good DOCSIS 2.0 modem, their service has always had intermittent interruptions here and there, usually averaging at least 2-3 a week (THAT I NOTICED… there were certainly more I didn’t because I wasn’t using the Internet then). Unless Comcast’s DOCSIS 3 is much more reliable that way, then UVerse has that one huge advantage. In 5 months, I have literally not had ONE internet interruption that I’ve noticed. Unbelievable stability!
I’m no lover of any of these big incumbents, as they work against consumer interests in most ways, and also overcharge us, but I do admire what AT&T has done with UVerse with the one caveat… when it’s installed and provisioned optimally. If it is, probably 90% or higher customer story has a happy ending.
My gateway was rated at 25/2. The highest U-Verse internet tier is 18/1.5. Even with 7 mbps dedicated to an HDTV stream, I shouldn’t be having problems. That said, uploads did impact downloads, and the techs agreed. They didn’t know what to do, other than to “hand a note to their manager.”
I knew what to do, and that was to cancel service. Unfortunately, providers in different regions handle performance differently. Comcast resets my modem about once a week during 3 AM for maintenance… I don’t have issues on DOCSIS 2.0 or 3.0 modems.
Considering the multiple, active, unresponded FCC complaints I have pending against AT&T Mobility, the only business I am comfortable doing with AT&T is for their $10 DSL line, which I have in my homes as a backup connection. The one plan the FCC mandated AT&T to offer, and they wish they could terminate.
OK, I respect your bad experience with UVerse. Not sure why you were having all the problems you had, but I believe them.
AT&T does indeed have A LOT of problems educating their workforce with all the information they should know. I’ve seen my share of incompetence and poor customer service with AT&T (thus my advice for just using the forums for answers/help when you can). It seems like UVerse experience is hit or miss from your experience and also tons of other good AND bad on the forums I’ve read. Boning up by reading on the Internet/forums before you order service USUALLY helps a lot (not in your case, I realize… and certainly others too) to insure a good install and setup… and if that doesn’t work, a few more truck rolls will usually get it working fine, probably, in most cases, from what I can tell from my previous forum reads, etc. BUT… and here’s the key — regular customers shouldn’t have to do that. AT&T can’t expect this suffices for a normal customer experience, and if it does, it’s going to be an uphill battle for them to make significant headway into the TV market, as they so desperately want to do.
So, thanks for making this forum to discuss this, and being open minded enough to allow a back-and forth dialogue. Hopefully some nuggets of information from one or both of us can help someone else somehow.
Have a great day!
Here is another U-Verse nightmare. The install took 7 hours and the technician, if you can call him one, left a huge amount of wires in plain sight. Ugh. I called about this and another tech came by to clean up the messy install and to correct my two problems. # 1 – my new hdtv had the moray effect going-on, which drives me nuts. My three other standard tv had crooked lines. After much distress one of the managers came by and told me the bad news…the problems are due to the fact that my electrical outlets are not grounded! So, if you do not have grounded outlets beware! U Verse needs a lot of help – the sales info is misleading.
I’m sorry to hear about your problems.
I do know that when I submitted my online order to have UVerse installed in June 2009, there was a clear notice somewhere that UVerse devices needed to be plugged into properly grounded outlets. Maybe this notice wasn’t given months before my install or now, but at least when I put in my order it was. It may have been in some of the fine print, which I read for things like this. Also, if you ordered via phone or in person or something, maybe you weren’t told about this.
Still, you’d think that the install techs would make sure your outlets were grounded properly before beginning any other work.
If you are able to get it installed correctly and are close enough to the VRAD/have good enough phone lines coming in, I’m quite sure you’d otherwise be quite happy with UVerse overall. Has some little issues, but compared to most of the competition, it’s usually better overall.
Well, I’ve had Uverse for a few months. Recently though it started having problems. Every time I turned on the track lighting (non CFL) my internet connection to the RG would drop (not the wireless). There was no internet connectivity – no broadband.
I took out all of the bulbs, turned on track light – same problem RG would quit working. Swaped out several RGs. ATT is surprised at this problem. RG is located on a totally different circuit than the track lights. Its also in a totally different room, about 15-20feet between these locations…strange.
Is this a grounding issue? May be grounding at the power outlet or grounding on track lighting? The track light does have a dimmer.
Thanks for your help!