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troy14

join:2012-12-08

Will I like WOW Ultra TV? (Switching from U-Verse)

Hi everyone. Contemplating switching from U350 AT&T U-Verse to WOW Ultra Signature with the 30megabits/sec internet. Before U-Verse we had Comcast.

With Comcast, we were happy with the service and our 20megabits/sec internet, but AT&T came knocking on our door and promised us all HD boxes (we have 3 HD tvs, but with comcast we only wanted to pay the $$$ for 1 HD TV), home DVR, 18megabits/sec internet, and a LOT of channels, + visa prepaid cards and all of this from less than what we were paying for Comcast! It was a no-brainer and we took the offer.

Anyways, we soon found out that we could only have 3 HD streams at a time, which was very annoying. I would often record 1 or 2 HD shows and my parents/brother couldn't watch HD channels because all HD services were in use. Also, the more TVs on HD the slower our internet was. It just isn't that bad.

Now, WOW comes knocking on our door. For about what we are paying now, we can get 30 megabits/sec internet, Ultra TV signature, and 6 HD streams. I have my own Apple Airport Extreme router as well so I am not concerned with the wireless performance. How is the internet speed? The salesman tried assuring me that the cable line was NOT shared and we would ALWAYS see those high speeds, I don't know if I believe this or not. The channel lineup looks good (but no Fuel TV!!) so we are a little unsure - is it too good to be true?

Other question is regarding installation - what is really needed? With Comcast we have coaxial outlets/cables at all our TVs already. Our U-Verse equipment actually is using these. Do they need to run a line into our house, or can they use comcasts? Do they need to re-run lines inside our house? Do they need to dig up our backyard? Any insight would be nice!

Thanks in advance,
Troy
(Metro Detroit)


gatownsend

join:2003-04-26
Westlake, OH

Hi Troy,

If you've been reading around here, I'm sure you've noticed WOW is experiencing some problems right now. The recent "billing system upgrade" has wreaked havoc on their customer service lines, and getting through has been hit or miss as has been reported in several posts here. It might make sense to hang tight for a bit and see where this all shakes out.

That being said, despite the recent events I am still very happy with my UltraTV (but I have also had no reason to call customer service lately). We have four TVs in the house: 2 HD and 2 SD. Three of them a media player on them for the UltraTV, and one SD TV in the guest room just has a digital adapter. Where there is an HD channel available, I have that channel's SD counterpart hidden in the guide - so all of our watching and recording is in HD if there's an HD channel. This is so that if anyone sets the recording on the one SD TV they don't accidentally record an SD channel. When we had TW, my wife and I would occasionally fight for tuners on the DVR (we had 4, but if you wanted to record on the box downstairs you had to either set it at that TV or go online to their website to do it - you couldn't do it from one of the other TVs even though you could watch anything recorded on any tv). We have not had any problems recording and watching with the six tuners. There have been some pixelation problems on the digital channels on and off the last month or so - there are threads on here about that, too. It seems to have almost gone away completely for me the last week or so.

I am still using my old Netgear WNDR3700 for wireless throughout the house. I have the media Gateway in a terrible location in the basement (far end of the house right under a steel support beam - doh). It was easier to just set up the Netgear as a wireless access point up in my office and run everything off of that - the UltraTV wireless wouldn't reach to the other end of the second floor for me.

WOW will need to run a new line to your home from the street. We have underground utilities here, so they buried the cable in the yard (only about 2 or 3 inches down - I have a feeling I will see it again this spring - it already popped out once and they had to come back and bury it again). From the box on the house they used all of my existing coax inside (my house is about 12 years old).

I have the 15/2 plan and I generally get 15 down, even in the evenings when it's normally busy. Sometimes it will drop down to 7 or 10 for a bit, but usually not for long. I always seem to get the 2 mbps upload speeds.

Good luck,

Gary



usa2k
Blessed
Premium,MVM
join:2003-01-26
Redford, MI
kudos:3

1 edit

The only glitch I've seen (my first time mentioning it here) is that one day of the week from 10PM to 11PM we have all 6 tuners recording. The message of which to stop so you can see live TV comes up and our choice is to watch something recorded, but then we can no longer reach the media hub. (Time to read a book or play a DVR.) It recovers when the tuners free up.

The newer upgrades it has received, it seems more stable (Before a rare reboot of a set top would get things back. 99%+ of the time it works flawless.)

The convenience of watching any show from any of our three HD TVs is the greatest ting ever. It took some time learning the interface - not the most intuitive, but once learned, I really have zero complaints about it.

Should a Media Hub need replacing you will lose all your recordings and scheduled settings. We've suggested here that WOW back up the settings externally so that a swap does not take ages to set up the shows again - won't hold my breath.

Here, we have a wide mix of tastes to cover four adults and two sub-two-year-old children. I keep the thing defaulted at holding 3 recordings, bumped to 5 for a few shows, bumped to 20 for Dora, Mickey, Bubble Guppies, Diego, and Oomi-Zoomi. I have a 1Tb expansion hard drive attached to triple my recording space, and I hover over 50%, closer to 60% with a few movies also recorded.

I was around 82% with defaults of 5 shows and the kids ones on unlimited. (Mickey was at 82 episodes)

So from a home with heavy usage, I highly recommend Ultra, but wish the generous storage area was even more generous, and that they externally mirrored the Media Hub settings and schedules.

Except for the call center, I give them 5 stars.

(I don't believe they have email support - my choice with many other companies.)

My early experience as I had this installed is here: »New install

--

Jim, VoIP 12/2002, VOIPo 2/2007
FAH-Tool~Pets~Join Artist-247



usa2k
Blessed
Premium,MVM
join:2003-01-26
Redford, MI
kudos:3
reply to troy14

said by troy14:

The salesman tried assuring me that the cable line was NOT shared and we would ALWAYS see those high speeds, I don't know if I believe this or not.

...

Thanks in advance,
Troy
(Metro Detroit)

I doubt the accuracy of that. I'm not a gamer, so I doubt I would notice. The random speed check I've done looked good. Even good when YouTube seemed to be choking for a while (could have been the route and not WOW).

Occasionally I've used NetFlix with great success - I have so many entertaining recording I tend to forget about NetFlix which goes through the Media Hub wireless.

I have 15/2 (says 15/1 online in their billing.)

--

Jim, VoIP 12/2002, VOIPo 2/2007
FAH-Tool~Pets~Join Artist-247

troy14

join:2012-12-08

Wow. Thank you everyone for the detailed replies. I did see the problems recently about pixelation / customer service. It seems like it may be clearing up. Our next bill is due soon so I would like to switch before that.

Our Comcast line was run underground I believe. My backyard has been recently redone with mostly cement, pavers, and a giant pool. How would they run it underground and into my house? They sure are not tearing up my backyard!


adam1991

join:2012-06-16
Columbus, OH
Reviews:
·WOW Internet and..
reply to troy14

Internet speeds are generally rock solid, except when they're not. Most recently (see my post in a recent thread) upload speed was horrendous, and it took a phone call--and a 45 minute wait on hold--for them to do whatever to fix it. My question remains, why was it bad in the first place if it was something they could fix over the phone?? Was this a result of their "billing system changeover"?

Also, over the summer I had serious broadband issues with very frequent disconnects. It was only because of WOW Dan here that I got it fixed; if it weren't for him and his knowledge, I'd still be having problems. It turned out to be something in WOW's infrastructure, and once I had (a) a WOW cable modem and (b) Dan to look at the logs, it was fixed in 6 hours. But that was after three months of suffering the frequent disconnects.

Also in late summer/early fall, ALL of WOW's 15/2 customers were suddenly getting 15/1. Customer service was mistakenly telling some people "no, there's no 15/2 service, therefore you're getting what you're supposed to get". Again, WOW Dan to the rescue. He dug through and found their "oops" moment, and had things fixed pretty quickly.

But now WOW Dan is off to another position and is not really available here anymore for this kind of thing. Now we're back to crossing our fingers and praying we get adequate technical support. I'm not holding my breath on that. Should this type of problem come back, I expect we'll have to fight hard to get it recognized and fixed.

Prior to that, a few years ago, I had VERY slow internet speeds that no one could figure out. They rolled trucks several times, and each time they re-wired something further and further back as well as replacing my cable modem. No change. It wasn't until some dumb happy accident several weeks into it that the tech happened to be talking with someone at their network op center who figured it out: flash the damn modem. They did, and problem solved. Really? You mean not one of the several replacement modems had current firmware? After all of the truck rolls and rewiring (all the way back to my pole 300ft away and all the way down the neighborhood to the fiber node) that's all it was.

Just last week I discovered a channel lineup change that they couldn't even get propagated properly throughout the system. They knew that channel 291 was supposed to be Encore HD, and their Ultra system could tune that channel--but it showed as "291.1" with a title of "TBA". And 291 did *not* get sent down to my cablecard at all, which meant I could not tune it. And because of the horrendous hold times on the phone, I had to make a trip to their customer service office to get it straightened out. This had gone on *how* long before I bothered to make an issue of it to the right people???

The problems with the Arris gateway go beyond just the poor wireless signal. Depending on what you do with your broadband connection, you may find that the Arris gateway gets in your way.

Pluses: WOW can provide however many HD streams you need. I have a 4 stream cableCARD tuner, but I could get another one and get 8 streams. Or 12. Whatever. You can have your Ultra; I'll take my Media Center (complete with commercial skip), thank you very much.

Price is reasonable, but the value equation is changing drastically with whatever problems they're having and barely acknowledging. It's getting to the point where T-W service--albeit higher priced--may be the higher value.

*When* the broadband is functioning properly, I've never--not once--seen the speed change depending on time of day. They seem to manage that part of it well. Even during prime time on a cold day, speedtest.net shows my 15/2 service giving 15.73/2.06.

They will need to run their own cable from the pole to your entrance. From there they can use your internal cable, if they want--but they will have to put their own ends on.


alan92rttt

join:2012-02-27
reply to troy14

Without discussing the current billing mess. I'm happy with the Ultra system. I have had it since march 2012.

I've had it since march of last year. Short of rolling your own media center/players I doubt you'll find a better system. In Madison Heights I'm getting a rock solid 15/2.

According to other posters the wifi in the gateway is weak but I don't use it. When I upgraded I took the line went from my Linksys to my cable modem and plugged it into the gateway. Zero issues.

It has totally passed the wife test for being usable and not too techie.

I have used its ability to connect to a DNLA server on several occasions.


gatownsend

join:2003-04-26
Westlake, OH
reply to adam1991

said by adam1991:

Internet speeds are generally rock solid, except when they're not.

Whether you intended that to be funny or not, I did get a chuckle out of it.

~Gary

BigD

join:2013-01-06
Fraser, MI

1 edit
reply to troy14

With all due respect to those who've had positive experiences with Ultra TV, I would caution anyone who is considering it. I got Ultra TV back in Sept (2012). Originally, I had WOW DVRs in my living room and bedroom. Those boxes, Scientific Atlanta, SUCKED! Between 2004 and 2011 I went through 13 of them, eventually replacing them with TiVos.....which I was happy with save for the extra cost of TiVo service.

When I saw that WOW had introduced Ultra TV, I figured I'd give it a shot since the equipment was made by Arris and not Scientific Atlanta. Big mistake.

The glitches started almost immediately. For the first 6 weeks I had to reset each of my media players at least once a week because they weren't sending any signals to my TVs. The gateway itself also had to be reset 5 times during the 3 months that I had Ultra. To me, resetting the gateway is almost inviting more problems.
Then there was the video and audio break up. They would also skip. Tiling and pixelation were a constant problem too. Two of the techs that came out to my home told me that my signal was very strong so the problems had to be within the Ultra system.

The TV guide on Ultra's "Smart Menu" (the style of guide that I preferred) was also an issue. I utilized only the HD channels so my guide started at channel 200. The premium channels are in the 400s. I would scroll into the 400s to see what was going to be on, only to have the guide REPEATEDLY freeze up. Then, when it was done freezing, it would kick me all the way back to the beginning....channel 200. Scroll back to the 400s....freeze....kick back to 200. Over and over.
One tech told me that the only option was to switch over to the classic grid style guide. The less preferred guide.
In other words, you're not getting what you pay for.

Then there were the programs, all of them series, that inexplicably stopped recording. And when I went into the system to reprogram them to record, I would get a window telling me that it was a duplicate request and that the program was already scheduled to record..............and then it would fail to record them. Resetting of the boxes and gateway did nothing to remedy the issue. The tech acknowledged that the ULTRA system had many issues and that they, the tech geniuses at WOW and Arris, were working to get them resolved. My options were to either get a new gateway or to be patient and hope that they were able to find the fixes and then update by system. I opted for the former (I'll explain why in a moment) and said that I'd give them a month.
So why give them 30 days to fix the issues internally? Because getting a new gateway meant that everything was going to have to be reprogrammed. Settings, recorded programs etc. And since I was becoming so UTTERLY disappointed with WOW, I figured that if I was going to have to go through the hassle of reprogramming another system, then it would be that of a different provider. And that's what happened.

I realize that different people will have different experiences with Ultra TV, but my system had more bugs than a rotting corpse. And in lieu of remedies, I was given excuses. I was left shaking my head and wondering how WOW could have released Ultra to the public when there were, according to three techs in total, so many issues that needed to be resolved. I wonder if WOW, in an urgent attempt to stay competitive, rushed it to market.

Regardless of the whys and wherefores, it ended up costing them an 11 year customer. I switched to AT&T Uverse 6 weeks ago and I haven't had so much as a hiccup.


yyzlhr

join:2012-09-03
Scarborough, ON
kudos:4

said by BigD:

Regardless of the whys and wherefores, it ended up costing them an 11 year customer. I switched to AT&T Uverse 6 weeks ago and I haven't had so much as a hiccup.

I've used both U-Verse and other MS Mediaroom deployments, and i've used the Arris gateway system on another MSO, and Mediaroom definitely is far superior to the Arris system. The UI is just a lot more fluid and easier to navigate and generally has very few bugs. Using the arris gateway solution after using Mediaroom definitely felt like a step backwards. For the OP, they'll need to decide whether they are willing to trade a relatively error free TV platform for one that is still playing catchup but offers more HD streams and faster internet.

Joe12345678

join:2003-07-22
Des Plaines, IL
reply to troy14

try no NFL network, No nba tv, no nhl network , no CBC HD, no big ten alt hd, no cbs sports network, and others.


levis76

join:2013-01-06
Reviews:
·WOW Internet and..
reply to troy14

I recently switched from U-Verse to save a few bucks on the monthly bill. I have nothing but regret. U-Verse was problem free and rock solid. WOW has been nothing but a nightmare. Constant pixelation, and freeze ups during prime time programming. Internet speed tests keep coming up great but we can't use it to stream any kind of video. YouTube videos play 5-10sec then buffer for upwards of a minute. Watching my network traffic, there is none. It just stops d/l'ing the video, then bam, another 10sec chunk pops up and repeat. Very frustrating. My poor 5yr got frustrated trying to watch and play games on Nick Jr. site the other day, something she's been able to do problem free until we switched.

Bottom line, once I can get through to a CS rep, we are cancelling and going back to AT&T. It's just not worth saving a few bucks for all the stress and frustration.


coastman49

join:2004-12-31
reply to troy14

I too just signed up for U-Verse for the second time. I have been a WOW customer 3 times with a total of 12 years with them. Everything has been decent up to November 2012 when they upgraded their billing system. They screwed up both my accounts. They shut off my service even though the bill was paid and the checks had cleared the bank over 8 days. Now the customer service is worse than Comcast was previously. On top of that, the last week or so has been horrific as far as TV goes. All channels pixelate, HD and SD. The good thing is their phone and internet. You think I am justified to switch???


levis76

join:2013-01-06
Reviews:
·WOW Internet and..

Absolutely. Why pay for poor service, no support, and no explanation as to when it will be fixed or even acknowledgement that there is a definite problem?

For the record, the internet is crap too. We use our connection heavily, which is why I figured a 15/2 cable connection would be a significant upgrade from the 6/1 DSL we had with AT&T. No such luck, WOW! internet is dreadfully slow most of the day. My daughter gets bored waiting for videos and games to load. My wife gets frustrated trying to do our bills and payment processing takes much longer and sometimes fails due to poor connection. I do a lot of gaming and use it for streaming live meetings for work and since we changed I haven't been able to get that work at all. It all comes down to an unreliable connection. Sure it's fast, but only up to WOW!'s servers, there it chokes right out. My real time speeds are more like 1-3M down and 1M up. That's what I see when d/l'ing files for work. I used to get speeds up to 5Mbps down and a full 1M up with AT&T and nothing has changed on our servers at work. The other day it took 45min to d/l a 52M file. I have d/l'd that same file hundreds of times in less than 5min. I can jump on my neighbor's wifi, with his permission of course, and d/l in 10min and he has a 2M cable line.

We had 0 problems with U-Verse, it was just the end of our promotional period and they were unwilling to extend it or discount our package in any way other than to start cutting out channels. AT&T seems very inflexible when it comes to that aspect.