Why I Don’t Have AT&T UVerse (Yet)
Posted on 30. Apr, 2009 by The Gimcracker in Gimcrackery, Television
This post is not anti-AT&T or any other provider. It is simply a factual comparison of prices for various cable/Internet services, which is a pretty hot topic right now. Hotter than your mom.
My Current Setup
It’s been unfortunate in the past how we’ve been forced to choose between cable and satellite for TV service. At least in a lot of cases there are multiple satellite providers to choose from in the same area. There isn’t even a choice with cable; you’re stuck with whatever cable provider is in your area. I have traditionally chosen cable over satellite because I like consolidating my Internet and TV bills, plus there are lots of other reasons I don’t like satellite, like bad/no reception during storms, lag between channel switching, and more equipment to deal with.
That being said, I don’t love my cable service either. Namely, it’s too expensive to get everything I want. NFL network, extended channel lineup, movie channels, DVR… the list goes on. So, after discovering AT&T’s UVerse was available in my area, I was excited to see how much money I was supposed to be able to save. UVerse combines TV, Internet, and voice into one consolidated package, with one consolidated unit acting as a modem and router for your internet. I didn’t need the voice part, but they have great build-your-own packages for just TV & Internet service.
I started doing a side-by-side comparison of UVerse vs. Comcast. With Comcast I currently pay $90 per month for a constant 6Mbps download stream (with 12Mbps “Powerboost” speed bursting for the first 10MB of every file), digital starter cable (lots of channels, but lacking some of the premiums like NatGeo, Military, Science, BBC, and MTV 3 thru 17), 2 tuner DVR, and about 40 or so HD channels.
The UVerse Option
I created the same package on the UVerse website. At first I thought it would be way cheaper, because the corresponding UVerse package – the U100 – appeared to be $84 per month. I would be saving $6 per month by switching to UVerse, plus if I ordered online I could receive a $200 rebate after 2 months. Is that worth learning a new channel line-up, losing all my current DVR recordings on my Comcast box, and taking time off work to come home and meet the AT&T installer? Maybe.
I’ll be honest, I was considering it. That is until I looked a little closer at the U100 package. A crucial piece was missing: no HD channels. That costs an extra $10 per month. Also, no DVR functionality. That’s another $15 per month. After adding in those missing elements, the U100 package came to $109, which is $19 more per month than the same package with Comcast. But even if the whole package was only $84 instead of $109, I still wouldn’t switch due to one very very very important detail.
You cannot split UVerse to multiple TVs without paying a $7 montly charge for each additional TV
That’s right, AT&T sends the signal through the coax line into your house not as a TV signal, but as a data signal. That means if you intercept the signal and try to split it to multiple TVs, it will not work. The signal has to be processed by a digital AT&T box sitting at each TV you want to watch. Right now I am splitting my Comcast cable signal to 4 TVs (some would say that’s too many, but I would answer that they should not judge me because only God can judge me). Why I split it to 4 separate TVs in a 3 bedroom house with no kids is a different story (a very exciting story). And no, there is NOT a TV in my bedroom, as I do not believe in married couples having a TV in their bedroom. Please write me a mean comment if you disagree.
So, if I really want to have the exact same package from UVerse that I currently have with Comcast, the cost is not $84, not even $109, but $123. That is not a good deal! NO DEAL! Is that show still on? Hey, Amazing Race is still on and I watched it 2 days ago. It’s still mediocre.
One more thing. I’ve been thinking of upgrading my channel lineup to include all those aforementioned channels like NatGeo. How much more will that cost with Comcast? $17 per month. That would make my monthly bill $107. The same thing with UVerse is called the U200 package, and after adding all the previously defined necessary additions like HD ‘n such, it comes to $130 per month. The one thing it comes with that Comcast does not is NFL Network. So, adding the $7 monthly charge for NFL Network to my Comcast bill, the total comes to $114 per month, which is still much less than UVerse U200.
If you’ve made it this far into this post I am going to reward you with screenshots of the two different UVerse packages we’ve discussed.
The lesson here is a familiar one, but one that many of us disregard out of laziness. And that is, read the fine print! The big problem in my case was losing the ability to split (albeit maybe illegally) the signal to multiple TVs for free. Like my coworkers who both have and love UVerse, maybe you don’t need this functionality, in which case UVerse might be a good option for you.
Until UVerse gives me the option to split the signal to multiple TVs for free, or until Comcast jacks up my prices (I’m currently on a promotion, but I’ve been on a promotion for the last 5 years because all you have to do is call Comcast and tell them you want the current promotion) I will happily pay my $90 per month for Comcast. Now you know why I don’t have AT&T UVerse (yet).
Your input is EXACTLY what I was looking for! I had Comcast until yesterday when I had AT&T Uverse installed, thinking that I could split the signal to 5 additional tvs, but found I cannot. That makes for too many useless, nonworking tvs in this house! I just may be switching back to Comcast. AT&T does offer 30 day money back guaranty.
Since I wrote this post I got a new Comcast deal. You have to sign a 2 year contract, but you get a fixed $95 per month rate for everything I described in this post PLUS all the higher-end channels (nat-geo, bbc, science, paladium) PLUS NFL Network. The second year of the contract is $105 per month, so it averages out over the course of the two years to $100 per month, which is actually a great deal. Plus you don't have to worry about calling in and renewing your promotion since it's a locked-in rate. I would suggest it if you have it in your area. Good thing UVerse has a 30 day money back guarantee
Thank you for your research and recommendation. We are scheduled to change from Comcast to At&T tomorrow because we don't get a strong enough internet signal throughout the house and I figured the television situation would be the same. Now I think I need to do some homework of my own and postpone the decision to quit. Thank you!
You really spend time on this. I should have switched before but then It’s not too late. Thanks for the great info.
compare basic packages
u100 / digital starter
2 boxes / 2 boxes
6 meg internet / 6 mg internet
ATT: 91 / COMCAST:101
u200 / preferred
2 dvr / 2 dvr
6 mg / 6 mg
ATT: 106 / COMCAST: 141
u300 / preferred with sports and movies
3 dvrs / 3 dvrs
12 mg . 12 mg
ATT: 148 / COMCAST:186
OR add hi def to any for 10 and we are still the same price or lower still. so you see att is not more expensive or even comparable unless people have 4 or more boxes.
just an FYI from a current uverse manager and previous comcast manager. both sales. yes. comcast has promotions for up to 6 mnth (180 savings) but we do too (between 100 to 300 cash back). and no one offers promotions over 6 months without a contract anymore so…..
FYI. feel free to contact me and ill help you out with service –
Hi Interviewing tomorrow for a position with ATT. This is valuable information. Thanks!
Interesting read. I'm going through this now.
Cost: Currently I have two POTS at $25/mo. each, approximately $10.00 of long distance per month, plus taxes, Comcast 6 mbps internet + BASIC TV from Comcast. For the same money I can get U-verse 2 phones unlimited, 10 mbps Internet, the U200 package, 3 TVs, and a dvr. I still get $100 bill credit and $100 Visa card. The first TV and dvr are free, the second TV adds 7 dollars a month, but the third TV makes all 3 free. (Don't ask, and I only have 1 TV) Total is $125.50, and you're correct, that's without HD. They want us to try U200, which is $64. We watch very little TV and will probably drop to the basic, which is $20, making it 10 mbps internet, two unlimited phones, and basic TV, for $80/month. In February they will be raising their prices. The first phone will go from $30 to $33, and the second one $15, will also likely go up slightly. If I didn't need the second phone, I'd be paying less for better internet, the same basic TV package, and phone, for less than I'm paying for Internet and TV alone from Comcast.
>AT&T sends the signal through the coax line into your house U-verse uses a single pair of twisted pair telephone lines, that uses VDSL to transfer digital data packets, not an RF signal as cable uses. VDSL way faster than ADSL and SDSL, and theoretically faster than cable, but in the real world cable and VDSL work out about the same. VDSL is simply a short-range version of DSL made possible by the neighborhood fiber. It’s not that they couldn’t combine the signal to RF to make it behave like cable, it’s just that it’s more complicated for AT&T, and more limiting meaning RF isn’t the future of television. RF’s roots are based on through-the-air broadcasts to your antenna, which can have a coax cable connected to it to prevent interference between your antenna and TV. Cable companies simply replaced the antenna, which is why splitters work. With U-verse, once VDSL makes it to the gateway, it is bridged to Ethernet, and from there it is a wireless router, Ethernet switch, and 2 port VOIP adapter rolled into one. Computers don't daisy-chain coax for Ethernet anymore, and thus the reason why U-verse recommends you not use coax to connect from your router to the DVR or STB. On the back of the DVR or STB, you will see a couple coax, RCA, HDMI, RJ45, USB, etc. If you are getting this, what you are seeing is the TVs and VCRs holding up progress. What TVs and VCRs really need is an RJ45 Ethernet connector. A 100 mbps Ethernet network has at least triple the bandwidth of cable or VDSL, with the potential of 30+ to 300+ the speed. U-verse is IPTV, which means, as with a PC, it has an Ethernet address. TVs don't have Ethernet connections, for the most part, which is why you need a box at each TV, and Ethernet twisted-pair wire to connect them to the network. This also enables interactive TV to where you can independently work with the DVR from any TV, freeze and pass a recording from one TV to another, access your call history on-line, etc. It also means you could run from the wall, to a local 4 port switch, and from the switch to the TV and nearby computer, printer, scanner, etc. If you don’t use U-verse for phone, you could even plug in VOIP phones and use one of the virtual PBXs. What will be cable’s answer to this? Who’s in a better position when TVs get Ethernet connections or become just another PC in the house? What offers more range, more two-way bandwidth, far fewer conductors per bandwidth, more resistance to storms, and less maintenance than fiber? Who’s in a better position to run fiber to the end points to increase bandwidth to Blu-ray 1080p levels and beyond than someone who already has fiber within 3000 feet of your location?
I’m going to give U-verse a whirl. With AT&T, customers get preferential treatment, and my phones are with them now. With Comcast, strangers get preferential treatment so you need to take a 60 day hiatus anyway to get good pricing, so you might as well try AT&T. That gets you the $200 in incentives from AT&T, and a better deal from Comcast if you decide to return after 60 days
So Comcast doesn't have fiber in their networks?
I'm sure they do at some point… how did you come to that conclusion?
All this talk about AT&T U-Verse and Fiber, in comparison to Comcast and Coax had me wondering.
They opened up U-Verse to our neighborhood recently and I'm trying to figure out if it will be better than my existing Comcast. My biggest concern is image and sound quality of HD content, and internet speed. It seems that Comcast has the edge when there's coax coming up to the house.
They say cable shared bandwidth with other houses, but if my bandwidth is being shared, on a much more higher bandwidth connection; let's say there's a 1 GBit coax coming from the curb to my house, but the shared connection with the other houses is a 100 GBit conneciton, then it's perhaps not such an issue. But I realize its not possible to split a 100Gbit connection into 1 – 1 Gbit connection without a router. Hmm, just trying to think through this.
Personally I'd make the decision based on how many TVs you're going to hook up. That's just me though. I believe the HD quality, bandwidth, and speed are similar enough (at least for me) to not make that much of a difference either way. For me it all comes down to cost, and if I have 4 separate TVs hooked up, it costs much more with Uverse at this point. I haven't researched much into the exact specifications of speed and such, so if that is your hangup then I'm not exactly sure which one to recommend. All I can say is I have been happy with Comcast for the last 5 years. That doesn't mean there's not something better out there though
We would have two T.V.'s at the moment. Really, we just have one, but have been contemplating another for the children to watch while we watch something else. Currently, in order to get a better price, I have to call up Comcast, telling them that I'm contemplating cutting services because the cost is too high. So the AT&T U-Verse looked like a better deal to get the same channels. Perhaps I need to do the math again.
How much is your Comcast plan? I had to do the same thing, but then they told me about a new contract deal they had. Downside: you have to sign a 2 year contract and pay a fee to get out of it before the 2 years are up. Upside: $95 per month the first year, $105 per month the second year (average of $100 per month for the 2 year span), includes full digital cable, all HD channels, all HBO channels, high speed internet, and DVR. That's much cheaper than UVerse's similar services – at least at the time I signed the contract. I am in Indianapolis, Indiana, so I'm not sure if they offer that in all areas. It might be worth it to ask. I believe the contract is through a third party, but I never know the difference because I just pay my monthly bill and I get the service.
Comcast definitely has fiber in it's network, the coax only goes from your house to the primary box, from there it goes to the nodes and headends directly through fiber. (Thats why in World of More areas like the SF Bay Area, they are able to offer internet speeds of 50 mbps now..which is ludicrous and incredibly awesome both at the same time imo)
I'm in San Jose and one evening experienced a download of 500 Mbytes in what seemed like 5-10 seconds. I thought is was an error so I checked the file size again and confirmed it.
I looked at my neighbors new U-Verse. I think the video quality is not as good. Jaggies, over sharpened, and compression so that motion looked a little riddled with artifacts. They say you have to use their wireless router too. I have a very good wireless N dual band. Theirs is single band G. I think I'll stick with Comcast for now.
I'm in San Jose and one evening experienced a download of 500 Mbytes in what seemed like 5-10 seconds. I thought is was an error so I checked the file size again and confirmed it.
Just to add some fuel to the fire. My mom got a new HD TV and had Dishnetwork SAT. Trying to work with them to get a HD signal was a nightmare. She has ATT phone and internet already. I called them for the bundle and was very happy that they offered U-Verse in her area. Not only did I speak to a person that spoke perfect English and was very knowledgable, but the price bundle was way better priced then her paying seperately.
I am a techno-geek and I had my mom's house wired with Sat being ale to view from one reciever in 4 rooms, bdrm, kitchen, sun rm and sewing rm.
After installing the U-verse reciever and connecting HDMI to her new TV, I was able to take the co-ax out to TV to a splitter and she CAN get signal in those rooms. The only draw back is that it is VDSL and the main TV has to be on in her bedroom.
So this post is not accurate in stating that you can not spit ATT U-verse. Sorry. Its not a great fix but you can split it.
So you split the signal coming into her house, and then you ran one to the U-verse receiver, and one to another TV and it worked on the alternate TV?
"After installing the U-verse reciever and connecting HDMI to her new TV, I was able to take the co-ax out to TV to a splitter and she CAN get signal in those rooms. The only draw back is that it is VDSL and the main TV has to be on in her bedroom."
No Brian, he took the coax output from the UVerse receiver and split it. Meaning the same channel/program would display on all sets. Also meaning that unless you had some type of IR repeater system or an RF remote you would need to go back to the room with the receiver to change the channel/program.
The UVerse receiver has multiple outputs like HDMI, component video, composite video and RF.
I used to be employed by 2Wire to do phone technical support for UVerse till I found a better job.
Ah, that makes sense. I was gonna say, when did they start changing the signal format that comes into the house?
Thanks for the comment.
I have Uverse but I cant argue with the fact that there prices are a bit steep. Where I am (south Florida), they started offering some good bundle discounts where by you could get the U200 and 12Mbps internet for $85 (plus $7 for my 2nd TV= $92). I like that price buy six months later I had to use the same technique and call retention with the threat to cancel to keep the price down. I think they may be finally coming around to some more competitive prices, in my area at least.