AT&T U-Verse vs. Time Warner Cable

Tue 15 May 2012
By mute

I had AT&T sales rep sell me on trying the U-Verse TV and Internet package. He said no-contract and 30 day money back guarentee so I figured why not. The install was yesterday. It was interesting but I'll try not to bore you with too many boring details... But maybe some.

Neither place I wanted to have the U-verse gateway had a phone jack, but one already has a hole in the floor so a dedicated cat5 was ran between the den and the telephone box outside. The rest of the phone wiring was left as-is and disconnected so I could still provide dial-tone to it using my VoIP ATA later if I wished. I was keeping cable service, so I did not want to disconnect any coax. A typical install has the U-Verse gateway located near a phone line and cable outlet, since coax is usually already available near your television sets. The gateway uses HomePNA coaxial networking to provide IP service to the wired IPTV receivers. Recently AT&T U-Verse began offering wireless IPTV receivers, but the DVR box must be wired.

Luckily I left work early and was there to explain how my home was already wired and that cable wasn't to be touched. The DVR is connected using my existing cat5 between the den and the bedroom in the garage. The wireless IPTV receivers connect to a small wireless access point connected to the U-Verse gateway. The U-Verse gateway internally offers an 802.11g/b AP (at 400mW!), but the separate AP uses the 5.025-5.035GHz range and did not show up on phones and whatnot. My internet service is 12Mbps, but the gateway itself reports that it's provisioned for 32Mbps. The extra 20Mbps must be for video. It reports a maximum of like 53Mbps (I'm right across the street from the box). This means 24Mbps should work here. I assume the U-Verse gateway itself is responsible for throttling the non-IPTV traffic to 12Mbps, which makes it likely candidate for "uncapping" :D

I found the Xbox U-Verse Installation Disc online, burnt it to disc, and installed it. Obviously it wasn't added to my account, so I had to call it in. The first attempt was unsucessful. I was told they're not currently activating Xbox 360 as seen on http://att.com/xbox (which does say it's unavailable while they improve it). So I went through the online troubleshooting for "Client is unprovisioned" and got a live chat agent to activate it. This time I said, "I already have the old kit." Saves $7/mo! :)

Pros: The IPTV recievers are snappy and probably function most like a modern satellite receiver. They rent at only $7/mo and all of them can access the DVR to schedule and watch recordings.

Cons: Cost. Non-contract, after 6mo promotion period, it seems it will cost $30-50 more than cable. Of course, both offer various promos an "12 months locked-in" rates, so it's hard to say... High Def service is an extra $10/mo. I expected better ping times from what I've read about cable. I guess in my area Time Warner is running their network very well. The option to increase bandwidth only goes to 24Mbps, whereas cable offers 50Mbps. Assumption: Potential for saturating my connection if watching TV on all recievers at the same time. AT&T also imposes a 250GB/month cap (which I don't believe I've ever reached this limit in my lifetime on other providers), but still, what if I do? Overages (After initial 2 free warnings I think). :(

So it's only been a day, but I don't forsee keeping it past the promo period unless it somehow becomes cheaper than cable.

Current promo price with tax: $112
After promo estimate: ~$168
New cable service with 3 recievers: ~$138 (HD service comes free)

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