Review by jimkyle
Good "Fair on-line support, although not as good as it was a year ago"
- Location: Oklahoma City,Oklahoma,OK
- Cost: $152 per month (24 month contract)
- Install: about 8 days
Bad "Company web pages badly out of date"
Overall "Good value and extremely reliable"
|Pre Sales information:|
Value for money:
UPDATE 3 on 1 December 2014
I've now been on Uverse for slightly more than a year, and have developed mixed feelings about it. Speed and reliability are still quite good, but the TV programming is awful compared to DirecTV, our previous supplier, and we're seriously considering going back to them even though that would do away with our "bundle" discount. It's only got another 11 months to run, anyway.
I'm extremely unhappy, now, that AT&T continues to spam me with half a dozen UCE ads every day. They use a different IP address every time, making it impossible to filter out, but I suspect I'll eventually find some way to handle it. Aside from that, and the poor TV program quality (both content and technically -- pixellation is still far too frequent), the rest of my comments still apply.
UPDATE 2 on 9 November 2013:
For a number of reasons, I finally swapped my DSL service for Uverse as of four days ago. The primary reason was cost: after adding up what I was paying AT&T for POTS + DSL, and DirectTV for TV access, the 24-month price for a Uverse triple-play package (specially configured to match or exceed my existing installation) amounted to slightly less than half that much!
I should note that my bills are probably not representative of the average user; I have two POTS lines, and my DSL was the 5-static-IP package, so my $170/month cost for POTS + 3Mbit DSL was a bit high. Incidentally, I had serious problems with billing at the older changeover. While the web pages and the confirmation snail-mail from AT&T both said the DSL would be $55/month when I upgraded from 1536 Mbits, the initial bill was more than twice that. After two full months of telephone tag with an AT&T manager I finally got it down to $60/month, and eventually got the overpayment credited, but it left a very sour taste in my mouth where AT&T and their billing practices are concerned. I'm wary that something similar may show up with my initial Uverse bill.
With only four days experience I cannot yet have any in-depth report, but so far I've not experienced any of the horrors that the Uverse forum here report. The most disturbing thing to date has been the problem I encountered trying to set "pinholes" in the firewall of the Uverse modem/router -- a 2Wire 3801HGV unit -- for my FTP and Email servers. Its administrator access password isn't where everyone I asked told me to find it! Once I did locate it, though, configuration was a cinch, even easier than my previous 3347. I now have 18 Mbit internet, which is quite a jump from 3 Mbit and makes huge transfers much less tedious. Installation took almost 5 hours total, most of which was spent pulling cable around the outside of my house for the TV connection, and drilling through the brick wall into my home office for the lines to the modem. The installer totally replaced the NID, as well; it was a bit more than 30 years old. However the underground copper seems to not have been touched.
As on all AT&T residential accounts for the past 5 years, port 25 is blocked and they refuse to unblock it unless I change to a business account -- which would destroy the cost advantage for which I made the switch. I'm changing my outgoing email configuration to solve that little problem, though, and don't expect any trouble from it.
I did find that one of the TV receivers, connected via wireless, was getting very low signal strength; it fluctuated between two and three bars on the wireless receiver's display panel. Moving the wireless receiver from a location below the TV to one above it raised the signal strength enough to show four bars most of the time, never below three, and the frequent slight pixellation vanished. Aside from that, picture quality seems to be noticeably better than I was getting from DirecTV, and hopefully I won't lose signal during thunderstorms -- which are frequent here in OKC.
So far as phone service goes, the only difference I've found so far is an absence of background noise. Haven't yet run a test on my FAX line to see if it's working okay, but I was assured that it would. Porting my existing phone numbers went quite smoothly.
All in all, I'm a happy camper again at this point, although a bit apprehensive about what that first bill is going to be...
UPDATE on 28 January 2012:
At 4 p.m. on January 24, I suddenly lost all internet connectivity about 4 p.m. Central time. Calling AT&T service eventually got me to a human (with an almost incomprehensible accent), and after some discussion I managed to elevate the issue to Tier 2, and got there after only 27 minutes on hold for the transfer. The very nice person at Tier 2 examined my account record and told me a change order had discontinued my grandfathered 5-true-sticky plan and replaced it with the current 5-pseudo-static-via-PPPoE offering, in the process changing all of my IPs and thus invalidating all of my off-site references in addition to making it necessary to reconfigure all of my equipment to regain connectivity. She also said it would be impossible to reverse the change even though I had not requested it.
Needless to say, I was not a happy camper. However, the Tier 2 tech did give me the new IP set and the newly required network password, which should have enabled me to get back on line quickly (after rearranging my equipment so that I could log into PPPoE and use the new IPs).
It didn't work. The PPPoE login did not assign the new IP. Instead, it assigned me the IP that I had been using as my outgoing gateway of the old true-static IP block, and that address refused to let me go anywhere. I called back about 11 p.m.; it was easier to reach Tier 2 this time. The second tech reviewed the notes from my first call, and informed me that the order had not completed for some reason. He attempted to force its completion while I remained on the phone, and reported success. I saw no immediate change except that I was now pulling the gateway address for my new IP block; that still would not allow me to get any closer to the internet however. The tech advised that it might take the rest of the night for changes to propagate across all involved DNS servers, but assured me that all would be well by morning. He also gave me a case number to use, just in case I still had a problem the next day.
I was glad to have it, because nothing changed overnight. A third call to Tier 2 (the case number got me immediate transfer, and by then I had learned how to bypass the machine-programmed triage questions) told me that the order was still incomplete. The tech had to put me on hold for several minutes while consulting with the business office to determine why he could not force completion, but when he came back and told me to give it another try, I was successful in reaching the outside world. The problem wasn't fully solved yet, but at least I could come here and ask for help from the experienced forum members!
For one thing, I was still unable to use the five "usable" IP addresses of the new block, although the Tier 2 techs had assured me that at least the first of the five would be assigned automatically when I connected. Even more pressing was the fact that my wife's machine, located at the other end of the house and connected via 75 feet of Cat5 running through the walls and attic, was totally unable to connect to my router now, although it had been working perfectly with the old setup. After an entire evening and much of the next day checking configurations at both ends, I gave up and called my favorite repairman. He showed up about 5 p.m. on Thursday, verified that my configuration settings were correct at both ends of the line, and then began testing the cable itself -- which had patch cords at both ends, with the long run terminated in wall sockets at each end. Both patch cords tested out okay. The long cable showed an open conductor. For a number of reasons, repairing it is no longer an option, so the fallback solution was to install a USB wireless adapter on her machine and connect to the router in that manner.
However by that time, all the parts houses here had closed, so it was 10 a.m. Friday before I was able to obtain the adapter. Once I had it in place, connection was straightforward. One problem mostly solved!
While waiting to obtain the adapter, I continued my research and discussion here, and learned that it was necessary to make a slight change in my login ID to enable the "static" IP assignments to work. Not one of the three Tier 2 techs had informed me of that requirement although all three had told me that my existing ID would work properly (and it did work, although not completely properly).
I also learned that my WRT54G would not be able to handle multiple IPs, anyway; they will require a 3347 router (at $100 from AT&T). I also discovered that the new plan's price is more than $30/month lower than my old plan, so I'll be waiting to see whether that's reflected in my next bill! I'll also be investigating moving to a higher speed than the current 1536/256.
Making the change to the login ID has not yet had any effect on the IP assignments, so I cannot report that the situation has fully resolved at this time. Operation is still somewhat flaky, with intermittent packet loss as great as 20% according to the line quality tests here, and some of those packet loss situations may be responsible for an intermittent inability to connect to the outside world (which is usually fixed by simply repeating the attempt immediately).
Bottom line: I no longer have such a good feeling about my AT&T service, but have not yet become sufficiently disgusted with it to fall back on Cox Cable; UVerse would still be AT&T (although I've seen reports that moving from DSL to UVerse may be forced before much longer). It won't take much more, though, to tip the scales the other way...
ORIGINAL (much happier) REVIEW:
In my city, only two non-dialup options were available when I decided to get better speed. They were Cox Cable's @home service, and SBC's ADSL (with several resellers but only one actual plant). Having grown totally disillusioned with service from Cox (and dropping their cable in favor of a satellite dish for TV), that left me only one option.
I initially ordered basic residential service in April of 2000, as soon as it became available in my area. Because of distance from the CO and weak signal, I had to be capped at 384K download in order to have the service at all. Nevertheless that was still much better than dial-up and I was quite happy with it until encountering an EMI problem in late summer of 2002. While searching for a solution to that I discovered that an RT had been available in my area since November 2000 although I had not been notified of the possibility to upgrade my account.
I immediately ordered service on my second POTS line, to take advantage of the RT without down time, and placed my order on-line. It was confirmed, but the due date came and went with nothing happening. When I called, the sales rep could find no trace of the order; I placed it again, upgrading it to the 1500/256 5-static-IP business service since I do use the line for my data recovery service. This time, things happened exactly on schedule, and thanks to the official SBC reps here in the Southwestern Bell forum, I now have true broadband service, free of problems.
In the past five years I've had no significant signal outages, although my original modem (SpeedStream 5260) is showing its age and the replacement I bought at the time of the upgrade (5360) is also getting long in the tooth. Looks like I'll need to pick up a 4100 before long. (Edit as of December 2007: Both of the old modems finally did give up the ghost, and I'm now using a 4100 which does a great job.)
The company itself seems not to have many clues about using their web sites to best advantage, though. The help files are hopelessly out of date. Placing an on-line order simply didn't work, even though I received a "confirmation" E-mail message. The excellent support provided in the forum here, however, more than compensates for that shortcoming. I've learned more about the technical details of getting and keeping good service in the years that I've been active here, than I could ever hope to discover elsewhere.
Not long after I moved to the RT, the company discontinued true static IPs in favor of "sticky PPPoE" addresses. Were it not for that and the fact that any changes to my service would convert me to PPPoE connections, I'd take advantage of the price changes that would give me 6000/768 speeds for the same price I pay for 1536/512. Since I use a Linux box as my firewall and router, I'm unwilling to switch to PPPoE at all, and continue the service unchanged.
Bottom line: I'm a mostly happy camper, and advise anyone considering the choice between SBC and other providers to visit the forum here and get the real low-down before making any decisions. It's now been 5 years since I made the service change from CO to RT, and it's still performing excellently even though my costs are not in line with current standards.t
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