AT&T U-Verse, A Follow-Up

So it’s been almost 3 months since we switched to AT&T U-Verse, I figure the optimal time for a follow-up report on my experiences with it.  The honeymoon’s over and the novelty’s gone, and now’s the time I can render a truly useful opinion.

It’s a good sign of course that we still have U-Verse.  The quality of the television service has been fantastic.  Only twice can I remember any issues with reception, and both times were quickly fixed with a reboot of the router.  Admittedly, we never really had serious reception problems with DirecTV – even with bad weather – but the difference is noticeable: in the same 3 month period I might have had 4 or 5 issues with DirecTV reception.  Both, in my opinion, are better track records than the last conventional cable service I had.

Unlike with DirecTV pay-per-view, which we used maybe once in 5 years of service, we’ve been using the video-on-demand (VOD) with U-Verse.  The utility of simply being able to select any of the movies you want (and the selection has been pretty good, and pretty current), and start watching it as if it were a DVD, is enough of an improvement over PPV to make it practical.  Plus it’s cheap enough you don’t mind taking a chance on a movie you might not have wanted to pay full price for elsewhere (or subscribe to HBO); I recommend “Good Hair” and “Pirate Radio”.

The big thing that AT&T touts is the DVR capabilities: “pause a show on any TV in the house, and resume it on any other” and “let everyone in the house record their own shows”.  While the multi-set DVR stuff is a vast improvement over the single Tivo set we had before, there are a few caveats that nobody bothered to tell us about.  The most annoying is that, in a nutshell, you can only have 4 “active feeds” into your house at any one time.  By this I mean 4 people can be watching TV, but the DVR won’t be able to record anything.  If the DVR is recording 1 show, only 3 of the TVs will work.  If the DVR is recording 2 shows, only 2 TVs will work.  I think there’s also a limit to the number of HD feeds that can be coming in (2, I believe), as in if the DVR is recording 2 HD shows, you can’t watch any other HD channel on a TV.  So in the commercial where all 4 family members are threatening each other with their TV remotes, yes they could each have recorded their own shows, but nobody would be watching TV while that’s happening!

The DVR limits do indeed make sense because the TV set top boxes and the DVR are basically downloading programming in real time and there’s only so much bandwidth that AT&T can guarantee to any single house.  What I wonder is if the limit of “4 active feeds” is because I have 4 set top boxes: in other words, if a customer gets 2 set top boxes from AT&T, would they only have 2 possible active feeds, or if someone got 6 set top boxes would the limit rise to 6?  Regardless, it would’ve been great to know about this limitation beforehand.

The only other real disappointment has been with the Internet service.  I was confident that to deliver consistent television service that AT&T would be delivering lightning-fast Internet to my house.  It’s only marginally better than the DSL that we had before, and seemingly even less stable.  I have to frequently reset the router, not for the television service, but for Internet service.  Plus the Cisco router regularly drops WiFi connections: it’s easily fixed by disabling and enabling my WiFi, but it’s a nuisance.  I continue to play with some of the settings on the router and on my WiFi, but my patience will run thin soon and I’ll be on the phone with U-Verse customer service.

And speaking of customer service, I’ve only had to call U-Verse customer service once so far, but my hat’s off to AT&T: they seem to have invested well in their support staff.

So all in all, I’m very satisfied.  I give the television service an A+.  I give the Internet service a B-.  I give the features, like VOD and DVR, an A-.  And I give AT&T customer service an A.

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