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Rosston, TX

AT&T Is Pretty Much 100% uVerse Now

AT&T is pretty much 100% uVerse now.

Splitting hairs on the technology, speed and pricing tiers, and short-term investor's returns are good for media talking points.


I'll just say that the original article, and half the posts in the comments section, are completely off base:

The reason AT&T isn't openly talking about the U-verse build-out is multi-pronged:

1) They're actively using pricing structures and promotions to target 100% copper customers into changing to the U-verse network, and the U-verse network doesn't constitute Fiber and Coax only, and actually utilizes parts of the existing copper infrastructure, and when those parts of copper are switched to U-verse, the remaining copper becomes copper AT&T doesn't have to maintain

2) Openly just saying "U-verse will be available in such-and-such specific areas by such-and-such time, and will have future availability in so-and-so other areas" is a corporate no-no right now. Wanna know why? It constitutes the elimination of Union labor as copper infrastructure disappears.

The next reason is that, the longer they keep a lid on things, the less tip-off they give to the FCC before regulations are passed to put the same government regulations on the infrastructure that currently exists on the copper. Nobody at AT&T with a brain thinks that it will escape federal regulation, but bean-counters are tasked with estimating how long the company has until regulation attempts begin, and how long they can stall those attempts before they actually come to fruition.

Still another reason is that AT&T's initial U-verse marketing was heavy on getting your advertised speed rating, talking up the fiber involved, and selling the television service. They also made the mistake of using the word "fiber" anywhere around a discussion of the speed of the service. The speed depends on whether or not copper is involved, and the loop-distance of the copper (it's just DSL, with a change in infrastructure somewhere back up the line from you).

I can tell you that, I stare at U-verse accounts all day, or am alerted that a customer's address qualifies for U-verse service. I can tell you factually that 3 out of 4 times, it's IPDSL. While IPDSL can reach 18mbps download speeds, that kind of service availability is the exception. In fact, a huge amount shows speeds available that aren't rated any higher than the DSL that is or was in the same place.

But with the IPDSL, where it is available for an existing DSL customer, it is in every single case cheaper than DSL service rated at the same speed. Business customers can migrate to U-verse and pay zero for equipment, get a month of service free (not a rebate, they literally never get charged), free tech install, term pricing cheaper than the cheapest possible for price for the DSL they are dumping, and no ETF for cancelling before term expiration.

Next, I can tell you that U-verse VOIP telephone has previously not even been offered to business customers. It still isn't, but at the beginning of this year, the U-verse ordering tool started giving a "yes/no" on VOIP ability at businesses addresses.

AT&T is, factually, trying to move it's entire telephone base over to the U-verse VOIP system. The fact that it's showing available on IPDSL or VDSL either one, when speed is sufficient, is tell-tale of this. The pricing of the service compared to DSL is another tip-off.

Further tip-off is the HUGE amount of sales commission the company is paying to sales reps for getting a customer to sign up for a service with no ETF, in my department, it's about 2.5 times more than any other product that can be sold, despite the fact that the actual monthly payment the customer makes is, even in the case of 24mb, less than the price of the mobility service I sell. On top of that, sales contests are run during the week that assign a set dollar value to each U-verse sale. 5

Multiply the number of U-verse connections you sell, regardless of speed and for either DSL migrations or new service or for moving existing service, times the per unit dollar amount, and that's what AT&T loads onto your company issued pre-paid Visa. It's basically instant cash.

Still further tip-off is that U-verse has the ability to go up to the 4G LTE network strictly for purposes of moving data. (The speed of LTE has no bearing on the speed of the landline connection). AT&T doesn't have to charge you for data, and they are purposefully warehousing bandwidth on the cell towers now.

People are misinterpreting this in all kinds of ways, complete with the "forcing people to LTE" babble in this thread. AT&T is actually doing one thing, they effetively gave people who reallllllly want to use LTE the ability to put one mobile device onto a shared data plan, as the only device on the account. Want a 20gb data plan with unlimited talk and text for your phone? You can do it. You will pay for it, but it's there.

But, further to the point, is that the more they integrate their IP services that go over wires with their mobile data connections, the less landline infrastructure they have to maintain (and the less wireline labor they have to compensate), and the more complicated regulating the service gets for the Feds.

Frankly, while I'm sure they're aware that bouncing voice communication from copper to fiber to wireless and back again is not subject to the same regulation as 100% copper, it will get regulated. Bean counters are probably tasked with running an estimate of how much time the company has before the FCC starts trying to get involved, and they probably are also tasked with estimating how long the process can be muddled by the change in how things work.

I can tell you now that they aren't stupid enough to believe they can simply prevent it, or that it's cost-effective to try preventing past a certain point.

Still further evidence:

AT&T is selling tp large companies that have huge PBX trunk phone systems or VOIP systems - the integration of mobile devices into the PBX trunk system, and smartphones that are on the VOIP network via their LTE data connection. All of it works just like a phone on the wired systems, but you can pick it up, walk out of the office, drive home, and have your desk phone with you the whole time.

Again, getting back to copper customers being switched to VOIP, the initial goal when this goes to the masses is that home telephone service and cell service is all on the same VOIP network that utilizes a blend of wireline infrastructure (that has had it's footprint reduced to a tiny fraction of what it once was) and the mobile data infrastructure (again, VOIP service running through 4G LTE and wireline service doesn't merit a discussion about the speed of 4G LTE or the speed of wireline -it's a matter of whether or not AT&T can move the nation to VOIP). Troubleshooting and ensuring continuity of voice service that is entirely on IP-based protocol, whether it's going through wires or the air, has been argued within the company to be easier or less costly than present.

I will say one thing about U-verse on coax: It is 100% confirmed that 44mb U-verse is coming. It's confirmed to the point that a manager at the level of management that involves running the primary call center for AT&T Southwest and West business customers is saying "no info on date or pricing, yet", and with her language that means the date is probably related to the pricing that has been submitted to tarrif (read: Service ready, marketing assigning monthly recurring charge and various promos associated with getting the service).

The last indicator is that AT&T is making the pricing on 100% copper long distance service prohibitively expensive for wireline customers, unless it is bundled with broadband or mobile service. Even when bundled, you get exactly one year, and then the price increases 200% and immediately locks you into a new term commitment with an ETF that is now 200% increased.

Basically, AT&T structured long distance pricing for copper in a way that the only way the service seems reasonably priced is if you are purchasing something that would be a component of the new wireline/wireless hybrid voice network (it would also be able to move data, but speed would vary wildly with how you were moving it, which AT&T has probably got some plan in place for, as well)

They aren't actively eliminating wireline customers. I can tell you right now from looking at pricing patterns on wireline services for the last 3 years, primarily pricing that either affects brand-new or long-time customers: The system has been rigged to keep people on 1.5 mbps or 3.0 mbps DSL with AT&T (one of those is the broadband speed requirement associated with VOIP service when you qualify an address in the U-verse tool).

One other oddity: Price increase on DSL - VERY SPECIFIC TO AVAILABLE TERM PROMOS - makes it less attractive to either new subscribers or people who have DSL but no U-verse IPDSL available, but where U-verse migration is available.

It is also factual that expiring DSL promo prices on customer accounts appear to have had their rates increased in an amount that makes U-verse an attractive buy (the MRC on the U-verse is cheaper than the MRC the customer paid for DSL prior to expire) for DSL customers. It's working so well that it appears that AT&T has availability of IPDSL in particular areas scheduled in accordance with promo expirations on DSL.

So let me spell it out for you, and this is specific to IPDSL service: When you look at promo prices on DSL, when they expire, and what the new rate is - the end result is that the customers price for switching to U-verse is ALWAYS cheaper than the DSL.

My guess is corporate approved these promos for DSL at a particular speed tier that on IPDSL would constitute availability of VOIP, started marking a map with locations of customers who purchased the service, which probably required a bunlded copper phone line, and then started converting the areas to IPDSL based on expiration dates of promos.

Additional promos were put in to get customer's pricing into a state where changing to IPDSL made sence, and will next make even more sense if they get IPDSL and change their copper telephone number to VOIP.

The only way out is to add either new broadband or new mobility so you can get the previous price back (if you already have both, you can't the previous price back in any circumstance).

There is, waaaaaaaaay out in the future, probably the desire to entirely do away with wires in the AT&T infrastructure and put everyone on a network that has no wires except the one that charges the battery on your wireless devices. The savings in infrastructure and labor to maintain it are incomprehensibly huge.

The logical step is that AT&T micro-manages the migration of it's voice customer base first partially off of copper and onto IPDSL (or in more limited cases, VDSL), and then further migrate them over to a blend of U-verse and the mobility network, and then migrate them off of U-verse entirely onto the mobility networ, while maintaining the VOIP telephone network that went into place with U_verse and now just uses a different method of data transmission.

It will take years to get done, and won't even be possible in some areas, but it will happen.