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cfineman

join:2009-01-02
Berkeley, CA

Fiber comes to Berkeley CA? I'm tempted

An AT&T sales guy came to our house the other day saying that AT&T had run fiber to our street. Now my understanding is AT&T just runs to the "node" (FTTN?) not the premises but from what I gathered from his description it's still a fully provisioned line from the node to our house (i.e. not the same bandwidth sharing "loop" that I'm on with Comcast). I'm currently a comcast internet customer and directv customer. Reasonably satisfied with both but I can get a MUCH better price going with uverse and combining them.

So... how is the AT&T internet. I'm i likely to be happy with the SLAs? The programming for AT&T seems at least as good as directv (for the stuff I care about) but I've heard mixed reports on their picture quality.

Does anyone have experience with AT&T's FTTN setup? Folks from the SFBay Area especially.



Thinkdiff
Premium,MVM
join:2001-08-07
Bronx, NY
kudos:11

1 edit

The whole "cable is shared" business is pretty much moot at this point. Modern, well maintained HFC networks are more than able to handle multiple users at the same time. Do you notice any slow-downs during peak hours right now? Don't buy into the marketing if you're happy with your current service.

As for AT&T, U-Verse is typically Fiber to the curb, where a VRAD is used to convert the fiber to VDSL2 over traditional copper telephone pairs. For the time being, your max bandwidth will be restricted by VDSL2 and distance/line quality. AT&T recently announced that over the next year/few years, they'll be implementing faster speeds. But there's no guarantees or specifics at this point. What speeds are you getting on Comcast right now?

There's no SLA for consumer service, so I'm not sure what you're talking about there.

U-Verse TV is highly compressed MPEG4 streamed over IP to the STB (not like traditional cable or SAT). You can only have 4 HD streams at a time, and it will start to eat into your internet bandwidth depending on your setup and internet tier. Many people complain about the quality (it will be worse than DirecTV), but some people don't care/notice the difference.

Edit: I realize my post sounds a bit harsh. Don't get me wrong, there are people that prefer U-Verse, but if you have other good options, I don't see how U-Verse can come out on top unless it's strictly pricing. Comcast/DirecTV may give you a better deal than you have now if you tell them you're thinking about switching. That may be your best option if you're happy with your service.
--
University of Southern California - Fight On!


cfineman

join:2009-01-02
Berkeley, CA

I'm reasonably happy but AT&T is offering about a 35% discount over my current ala cart offering. My question around the SLA was really about the speeds i'm likely to sustain (not really an SLA, I know). Currently SpeedTest clocks in pretty consistently around 25 down and 4 up (and yeah... i've not noticed slowdowns for the past few years).

I'm pretty good with the picture quality over DirectTV but it's more costly than AT&T and ComCast and the content isn't that great (e.g. I was looking at the ComCast VOD selection at my neighbor's and it's better). I do worry about PQ with ComCast (and A&T)... I would care if that got worse. I think ComCast used to do much of the same compression but it was not that evident at my neighbor's



Thinkdiff
Premium,MVM
join:2001-08-07
Bronx, NY
kudos:11

Cable compression varies by company and even area. Typically, you can expect a 10-18Mbps MPEG2 encoding from cable. In my opinion, the 6Mbps MPEG4 AT&T uses is roughly equivalent to 10-12Mbps MPEG2. So by that metric, cable will always be as good or better than AT&T (assuming it doesn't drop below 10Mbps), but again, that's my personal opinion.

DirecTV uses MPEG4 (like AT&T) for HD content, but the bitrate is typically much higher than AT&T and variable based on content (fast moving content/sports gets higher bitrate, etc). People have seen bitrates anywhere from 6Mbps to 16Mbps (much better than cable).

For internet speeds, if you can reach a certain speed on U-Verse (lets say 24Mbps), you'll always get that speed 24/7 unless there are line quality problems. The only case this doesn't apply is what I mentioned earlier - HD streams can start to suck away bandwidth from your internet connection depending on the maximum bandwidth of your VDSL2 loop.

For pricing, you're definitely getting screwed going a la cart. I used to have DirecTV/Cable/TelCo phone. I saved >$100/month by going with a single company. The upside a la cart is that you can go with the best of each category (DirecTV for TV, Comcast for Internet, Comcast or AT&T for phone), but it's hard to justify the extra price just for that.
--
University of Southern California - Fight On!


cfineman

join:2009-01-02
Berkeley, CA

And AT&T is capping their delivery at 6mbps? Even if the loop can provide much higher?

Cable would not siphon off bandwidth from internet?

Do you know of any resources where I could find out the kind of speeds people are seeing in my area on AT&T? I guess I should check out the speedTest.net database. Any others?



DataRiker
Premium
join:2002-05-19
00000

1 edit
reply to cfineman

ATT marketing is ridiculous.

Good luck getting getting close to Cable type speed ( especially on higher tiers )

And enjoy the absolutely horrendous TV quality.



Thinkdiff
Premium,MVM
join:2001-08-07
Bronx, NY
kudos:11
reply to cfineman

said by cfineman:

And AT&T is capping their delivery at 6mbps? Even if the loop can provide much higher?

Cable would not siphon off bandwidth from internet?

It's not that the data is capped at 6Mbps, they could provide a higher bitrate if they wanted to. It's that AT&T is using a 6Mbps encoding profile on every channel, so the video itself is encoded at that max rate.

Cable uses separate channels for TV and Internet, so your speed does not decrease when watching TV. You can also have as many concurrent TV channels being actively viewed as you want without seeing any problems (assuming signal strength is good).
--
University of Southern California - Fight On!

cfineman

join:2009-01-02
Berkeley, CA

That's what I was asking... if the encoding itself is capped.

I actually just gave Comcast a call (after shoddy treatment on the chat channel ) They are rolling out X1 here... I just may have to take the plunge.

Thanks for your thoughts/knowledge TD (and DR for the more visceral response )



GroundPoundr

join:2005-04-15
Clarksville, AR

We switched from Comcast to UVerse for trial purposes. It was a horrible experience. The internet speeds of the two are light years away from each other. My parents are hard of hearing and the volume of UVerse was much lower than Comcast. I even set the volume to it's highest in their box, which didn't work.

After 4 days of AT&T, we switched back to Comcast..


public

join:2002-01-19
Santa Clara, CA
reply to cfineman

said by cfineman:

An AT&T sales guy came to our house the other day saying that AT&T had run fiber to our street. So...

That is a commission only contractor desperate to say anything to close a sale.

how is the AT&T internet. I'm i likely to be happy with the SLAs?

SLA??? Now that's really funny...

davidhoffman
Premium
join:2009-11-19
Warner Robins, GA
kudos:2
reply to cfineman

There are two reports done on ISP delivered speeds
»www.fcc.gov/measuring-broadband-···012/july
Look at Chart 12 for a picture of how AT&T compares to Comcast during the peak usage time of 6PM to 10PM.

»www.fcc.gov/measuring-broadband-···1/august

One page to highlight is the year to year comparison page
»www.fcc.gov/measuring-broadband-···#Figure2

If you can get quality Comcast ISP service, I would say take it over Uverse. I do not know much about the video offerings and DVRs from Comcast, but I do know all my DirecTV using friends love the service. The latest DirecTV Whole House DVR, Genie, gets very good reviews. 1TB storage and 5 HD shows at one time. »www.directv.com/technology/genie_receiver


w4ncr

join:2000-10-27
reply to cfineman

For the higher speed tears stay with cable if you want slower Internet and go with AT&T if you want cheaper TV program tell the cable company you're switching to AT&T services for video !



djrobx
Premium
join:2000-05-31
Valencia, CA
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·VOIPO

2 edits
reply to Thinkdiff

said by Thinkdiff:

Cable compression varies by company and even area. Typically, you can expect a 10-18Mbps MPEG2 encoding from cable. In my opinion, the 6Mbps MPEG4 AT&T uses is roughly equivalent to 10-12Mbps MPEG2. So by that metric, cable will always be as good or better than AT&T (assuming it doesn't drop below 10Mbps), but again, that's my personal opinion.

Yes, cable quality varies by area. TWC HD looked pretty horrible here for a while, even worse than U-verse. MPEG-2 loses its composure pretty badly when bit starved.

U-verse encodings are capped at a specific rate, because they are only encoding the streams once for everybody (multicast). Given the limited size of the download pipe, they need to know for certain that the stream will not exceed a certain rate, because they cannot know what combination of channels the end users will select that will ultimately share a limited pipe. I read at one point AT&T was trialing slightly higher quality streams for certain profiles, but I don't know what happened with that.

With cable and satellite, channels are always broadcast together on certain pipes (transponders or QAM channels). In this case, encoders can detect when a high action scene needs more bits, and borrow them from other channels in the same pipe, which might be showing less action. They call this "stat-muxing".

--
AT&T U-Hearse - RIP Unlimited Internet 1995-2011
Rethink Billable.

Zoder

join:2002-04-16
Miami, FL
reply to cfineman

said by cfineman:

Do you know of any resources where I could find out the kind of speeds people are seeing in my area on AT&T? I guess I should check out the speedTest.net database. Any others?

What people are seeing in your area is not going to matter. It's based on your individual phone line's physical distance from the VRAD and the quality of your line. Assuming you line is in good condition you'll see stable speeds. Your distance will determine the max speed you can order.