AT&T U-verse – A Review After 18 Months Of Service

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In The Beginning:

Nearly two years ago I gave up my Dish Network satellite, Vonage phone service, and my DSL Extreme ISP. An AT&T U-verse bundle was the reason for this change. Three hundred TV channels, Free Movie Channels, VOIP with many features, and a faster internet (18 MPS from AT&T verses 3 MPS from DSL Extreme). The bundle was also cheaper than the three separate services I had used. Making the change was required little decision making, it was a great deal, or at least it seemed that way.

The Installation

The installer for my AT&T U-verse TV, phone, and internet was both well trained and experienced. My home is wired for Ethernet, and the 1GB network connects several computers with varying operating systems (Mac OS X, and a few flavors of Linux). Adding to this are three different ethernet switches that help keep the flow of data moving from room to room on the local network. There are also a couple of tablets and cell phones that use WiFi.

Prior to the installation, I was concerned about the level of skill sets the installer might have, but when the “guy” arrived, I could tell by the questions he was asking me about the network that this wasn’t his “first trip to the rodeo”. He was good, and the hardware install proceeded without any issues whatsoever. Once the install was completed, the installer took the time to explain the equipment to me. From the moment the installer arrived, till the moment he left, the guy demonstrated his skill, and knowledge of the system, and took the time to answer my many questions. The install process doesn’t get better than this.

The Pros and Cons

On the plus side of the ledger, the service provided good video and audio clarity. The phone service was clear, and had a lot of no-cost options. The fiber-optic/copper cable based internet service, though not blazingly fast by today’s standards, was 6 times faster than my DSL service. Reliability, though not stellar, was about what one would expect from a big service provider.

AT&T provides pretty solid equipment. The 2Wire 3801HGV router performed well. The only issue I had with it lay in its WiFi transmitter, which was anemic. I could often not use any of my WiFi devices in the rooms furthest away from the router. A repeater was used to get WiFi signal to the Cisco TV receiver in our Master bedroom (also the room furthest from the router). The repeater and the Cisco TV receiver combination also make up the extended components of AT&T’s Whole House TV service. You really can have TV/DVR service in any room, the patio, or garage. It worked very well. The main TV receiver/DVR was a Motorola VIP2250. It is a very compact device, and well ventilated. Our home theater system is used a lot, and after hours of use, I never saw this box get any more than “slightly” warm. The software used in the DVR was not remarkable, and on par with those you find in DVR’s of Dish, Direct TV, and other television providers.

Here are some issues on the minus side of the ledger:

AT&T U-verse has a data cap. After my system was installed, I was presented with some documents to sign, one of which was my acknowledgement of this data cap. I spoke with several different AT&T representatives before making the change to U-verse, none of them mentioned the data cap, and it was only after my system was already installed that I became aware of it. I nearly had it immediately uninstalled. After some thought, I reluctantly signed the document, and later did some research. I found that AT&T has not enforced the data cap yet, but that doesn’t mean that their lack of enforcement will last forever. I don’t know what bothered me the most, the data cap, or how it was (or wasn’t) presented to me.

I am roughly 5 to 6 city blocks away from a “switch”. The “switch” is a magical place where the transmitted signal is parsed from a main cable(s) to a more secular one, leading eventually to your home. Like DSL, the further you are located away from the “switch”, the slower your internet speed will become. It is for this reason that I could only buy 3 MBPS download speed for my DSL line. U-verse suffers from the same distance restrictions. The  U-verse signal itravels via fiber-optic cable only to the “switch”, from there it uses copper cabling to your house. As a result, 20 MBPS downloads is the max I can get from AT&T (they offer up to 50 MBPS in my area, again providing you are close to a “switch”). Sadly, I could not always get anything near 20 MBPS, – often download speed would between 10 and 12 MBPS. I know enough about the physics of the signal process, as well as the affects of speed from a number of users “on line” simultaneously at any point in time, to not expect the “advertised” download speeds. Still, to get only half of the speed I paid for is just not acceptable.

There is a one very bad thing about any bundled TV, Phone, and Internet service. When the Internet goes down, everything goes down with it. An AT&T installer (apparently like the one I was afraid I would get) was working at the “switch”, and accidentally disconnected my line. I immediately discovered the lack of service (duh!), and within minutes contacted AT&T Support to tell them of my problem. I was on my cell phone for nearly 45 minutes trying to explain this. The result for my prompt response to this problem: I was without service for 4 days. No phone. No TV. No internet. When I complained about this, I was apologized to, and told the installers were all busy, and the 4 day time frame was the best they could do. During my 4 days of imposed isolation from the digital world, I drove by the “switch” several times, and saw installers there working. It just seems that one of them could have been told, that while they were there, to “plug me in”. This event was the worse “outage” I experienced, but there were others.

Some minor annoyances: On some channels, the character lip movement and sound would never synch. Also, sound would sometimes drop down a number of decibels, and then raise again to the preset level. When I use Netflix, Apple TV channels, or my HTPC, these issues never materialize.

Summary

U-verse is not a bad product; there simply are better, and less expensive ones out there.  To me, it is showing some age, and some of the pieces are still not totally sorted out.  Also, even if one regarded my 4 days without service as an anomaly, customer service was at best mediocre.  Then there was the “surprise” regarding the existence of the data cap……

It seemed like it was time to see what “else” was out there. Surprisingly, I found cable, specifically in my locale, a better option for me. Cable pricing, especially for bundles like I had with U-verse, have dropped, and internet speeds on cable are much faster. So, after 18 months with AT&T U-verse, I switched to cable. I have a similar number of channels, all HD, as I had with AT&T. My phone has unlimited minutes (I had 250 minutes per month with AT&T, usage above this number were charged per minute over). I now have 200 MBPS download speeds on the internet, and this speed is very consistent. Even better news, my new cable is $18 per month cheaper than U-verse.

19 Comments

  • Eric says:

    Excellent review, thank you for the information. I currently have at&t DSL and from your comment that the U-verse fiber optic cable only goes as far as the switch and then copper wire is used from switch to house, I am thinking I should skip the $99 fee and install the router myself. Sounds like one phone line and one ethernet cable to plug in, basically replacing my current DSL router. New user name and password are printed on the box, so Shazam! Your thoughts?
    Thanks.

    • prometheus says:

      Eric,

      Providing AT&T will make the connection at the “switch”, then I see nothing standing in your way of doing the install yourself.

      Glad you enjoyed the article.

      Larry

  • Junky Magi says:

    I’ve had fiber uverse for almost a year now and when I had the 75Mb package, I was always getting at least 70Mb when running speed tests. I have to say I’m very happy with the service.

    • prometheus says:

      Thank you for your comment. In the end, I think it boils down to what one is comfortable with. Besides the problems I mentioned in the article, I found that I could get more my “buck” (meaning faster internet and overall reliability) from another provider. I do not feel that AT&T’s Uverse is bad, it just doen’t compete well, at least in my area, with its offerings.

      Larry

  • Jim Grupe' says:

    I have had U-verse for about a year and am counting the days until my contract expires. I must be quick with my comment, because U-verse doesn’t stay up long enough for me to write a long report. WHEN I HAVE SERVICE,the bandwidth is usually so low that my browser reports “URL not found” until the 2nd or third attempt. When I call AT&T service (somewhere in Asia) it guarantees that I will be down until a technician comes to the house a day later. The technician can fix nothing because the problems are in the backbone. But he can get through to the core network office, who deny there is any problem, BUT service is magically restored within a few minutes. This happens about weekly on average. In the last week, I’ve been without telephone or internet or both four times in the last week. If I can get the “help desk in Asia to understand English well enough, I can insist that they deviate from their script and order a line reset, and that usually restores service 30-60 minutes later despite all their denials that there is any problem with the service.

    I also see that AT&T pays for various “unbiased reviews” that give them a glowing report. Such sites often have links to order service from AT&T. I think this is blatant fraud.

  • pk53 says:

    Thanks Larry. The combo modem/router, in our use of AT&T Uverse, has to be installed and provided by AT&T. We’ve gone through two model 5031NV’s in less than 2 yrs. on the service. It’s much better than legacy DSL, but not intended for today’s multiple devices, HD and omni-pervasive cloud services. We’re beginning to revisit cable 100 or 200 Mbps services…

  • John says:

    We have had Uverse for a little over 4 weeks. We have had three outages. First one for 5 days. Second one for 3 days. And it just went out again. They claim squirrels are chewing it. But they just put the wire up in the same place. The definition of an idiot is….
    We regret changing providers – tremendously. I could never recommend this to anyone.

    • prometheus says:

      I am receiving a number of comments like yours. I had an AT&T installer accidentally disconnect us at a switch box, and we were without service for several days. You had squirrels, maybe they were one in the same. Hope things with AT&T improve for you.

      Larry

  • The Skeptic Tech says:

    Thanks for your experiences, folks. I’ve been getting boned by Charter for 15 years and I’ve been chomping at the bit for U-verse to get to my neighborhood. It finally did. Then I saw the price.

    $50 for 12mbps and a 600gb data cap (per month) with a one-year contract. I can’t tell if I can bring my own equipment. I’d never rent theirs as I’m a network tech so I don’t need hardware or help.

    I thought Charter was screwing me with $60/mo for 60Mbps and no data cap. Guess I was wrong.

    What I hate about Charter is the price (I paid $39.99 for years) and that no one on th other end of the line has a clue of what they are talking about.

    What I like about them is the service itself. I usually get 65Mbps with them even through my VPN. I’ve had about 2 outages of 6-12 hours in 15 years. I can live with that.

    So until you folks tell me it’s been a dream with U-verse, take solace in the fact that you help me steer clear of their baloney.

    As they say when they want you to turn off your ad-blocker and see 20 ads per minute, I’m getting the best internet experience as it was intended (by me-not them).

    PS: Use Firefox and install U-Block, Quick Java, Tab Mix Plus and PrivateInternetAccess ($30 per year for PIA) and YOU’LL be in control of what you see on your screen.

  • Jon says:

    My experience so far with att uversse is that it is a load if crap. First I was offered a good deal for cable only and not yet not once have I seen the magically low price of $50 appear on a bill $190 bill for internet ONLY.
    The installation process was delayed cause my address was not recognizable so it was rescheduled for a weekday so I can stay home from work. Well the guy could not get it installed completely and said he will reschedule his friend to come do it on Saturday. Saturday nobody came and I had to call for another appiontment. Finally finished by a rookie and my first bill with free install was due within 3days for first month….

    free install cost me a $120 one time fee for service, half a day at work, several expecting weekends and monthly payments started soon after cable was finally in service.
    I complained to a rep. But did not get help or any prorated deals in any manner and was actually hung up on by one of the girls.
    So is at+t a good company who does free installation in hopes you will be happy to become and stay a loyal customer??? You tell me. Idts.

    • prometheus says:

      Jon,

      Since writing the article, I have heard similar stories to yours. As more and more of the Media Giants get consumed by other Media Giants, I’m afraid what appears to be “smoke and mirrors” advertising, and other “come-ons” to get people to sign up, will more and more become the norm. So will rising prices. As a result, I am still working on ways to “cut the cable”…..

      Thanks for you comments,
      Larry

  • Missey says:

    Thank you, for all the replies on such a thorough and well-written post. I have been AT&T for about 11 years. Mainly because I do not wish to lose vital emails. Probably stupid. I know. I have only DSL and a land line with them, and prices continue to creep up. I understand that they must go up with everything else, every so often.

    For the last several years, AT&T is hassling me to purchase AT&T Internet, formerly know as, AT&T Uverse. It’s driving me nuts, on how often they send material on it. I nearly switched to it a few years ago. Then immediately, did research, and just as quickly, called them back to cancel the installation. They tried to say it was too late. Lol. I think not. I told them, I’d leave them standing at my door and that it would be best, they not come onto my property at all. I won that little battle. I am so grateful I did, too. I live alone these days and with some disabilities. So, it’s critical I maintain phone, WiFi, etc… Thank you again. I’ll keep tossing their BS materials into the trash.

    Missey

    • prometheus says:

      Missey,

      Glad you liked the article. After my experiences with At&T, I switched to Time Warner (now Spectrum). For the past two + years I have been with them, I have had not issues with their service…..just the price, it is getting expensive.

      Best wishes,
      Larry

  • Rick says:

    I have the ATT Fiber Internet. Both download and upload speeds are above 900 MBits/sec. So far I’m very happy.

  • Jim Miller says:

    March 23, 2017: After 3 years of satisfactory U-verse DSL+ Telephone service, we had AT&T Fiber Optic Internet+ Telephone +Direct-TV installed. We have called them every day since, due to our WIRED kitchen fone not working with our alarm system. Not one person understands “wired kitchen wall telephone”. The installed was here from 10 AM to 8:30 PM because the contractor did not install the Fiber Optic Cable properly. Only one telephone rings in our two-story home, and I am handicapped. The most frustrating ordeal we have ever experienced! Do NOT be the first customer in your neighborhood to go AT&T FIBER OPTIC!

  • Joanna Smart says:

    We’ve just signed up with att u-verse. It feels as tho I’ve signed my life away. All to get that 1000mbph! 300 channels .. so on and so on.. we got rid of directv and Comcast for this so-called miraculous bundle and now on day two- yep, it’s down. Tech is coming out tomorrow sometime between 4pm -8pm. No tv, internet – but many apologies.
    I feel sick to my stomach. Such regret. Why did I buy this golden ticket? I knew in my gut it was wrong,, but 1000mbph and my greedy self took over. Now without all my many devices I read these above comments and literally my heartburn is x1000 and that’s no lie. Can I get out of this contract? What can I do? I haven’t totally ended my Comcast 150mbph yet, should I keep it as back up? I don’t know a lot about connections or internet. I’m that mom that calls her son, ” please call mom.. how do I sign into this Snapchat again son….”.. I’m that mom.
    Please any help I’d so appreciate
    Juana & Norman

  • Clark Rivers says:

    I believe that AT&T bought out direct TV.Now they are offering fiber optic speeds on the internet starting at 50/mbs in Charleston,SC.The package i signed up for today offers over 100 channels with their satellite service and apps to watch channels on smart phone.For about $110 a month I also get four receivers for TVs and DVD recorders.Installation is free.This price lasts for two years.I will get back with you and let you know how their service turns out.

    • prometheus says:

      Clark, thank you for your comment. Looks like a good deal. Hope their service has improved. Please check back with us on how your service has been.

      Larry

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