Why we dumped UVerse

We’ve been enduring ATT’s UVerse (TV and Internet only) service for a number of years and the service itself has been unreliable, with their internet gateway (combination modem and router) randomly rebooting, the signal dropping (usually near the end of a show so you miss the conclusion) and less than totally honest (as well as expensive) pricing. Coming near the end of our contract along with attractive pricing from Spectrum (née TimeWarnercable) caused us to take a look at what we were getting for what we paid. We discussed “cutting the cord” but were reluctant to give up things like local and network news, cable news (CNN, MSNBC, etc). We could live without Fox News. We have Netflix and a bevy of other boxes (Apple TV, Anazon Firestick, Chromecasts) and there are ways to get non-live TV shows to replay later, but cutting the cord was more than we wanted to do just yet.

We had a UVerse 200 package, which meant there were probably 15-20 channels we actually watched and a number of channels included in their count that were basically infomercial channels. We had their highest speed internet (48 meg download. Woohoo!) available. For the TV and Internet package, we paid around $150/month. At least it was supposed to be that, except they raised their prices and indicated our price was a discount off of their pricing. Except I agreed to a fixed price, not a discount off a future unknown price they raised during my contract. I consider this to be a shady practice. Seems like its a contract only for the consumer. And, if you don’t agree to a new contract and twist their arms with competitive pricing, they’ll really rip you with price increases. In addition to the $150/month for Uverse, we were still paying for a landline to ATT (yep, some people still have’m; our cell reception not great). It seems ATT itself is pushing new customers to DirecTV, which they recently acquired as programming cost/customer is apparently lower. We had DirecTV some years ago and dropped it for performance (thunderstorm=no signal) and price. So when we called to cancel, we were prepared for their retention efforts to shift to DirectTV.

With ongoing issues with the quality of service, we certainly had ATT service reps out too many times to count and I was creating logs of how often their Internet service spontaneously rebooted. To their credit and discredit, ATT dutifully sent out tech support. They’d replace some or all of the equipment, run diagnostics. Nope, can’t figure out what the problems are. They once sent out a tech support manager whose sage comment was “You have a lot of devices connected.” So what? They said they could not do anything more and it was obvious that perhaps their technology wasn’t up to the task and/or their equipment was poor quality (you have to insist on getting the newest level gateway or they’ll stick you with old technology and hope you know no better), or maybe the techs don’t know what they are doing. ATT is trying to push a lot of content over copper wire and I think it’s just too much to handle the bandwidth, combined with low grade equipment (replaced gateway 2 times, DVR 3 times) using wireless transmitters/receivers to the TVs. I gave up complaining because they couldn’t ever fix things and you’d spend a lot of time each time waiting for that appointment window. Their phone tech support was laughable, with one support rep oblivious to the TV signal coming in over their connection. The normal advice (like so many others), reboot (really, all my devices?). Their recorded on hold messages refer you to online services; helpful if your internet is down. 

Enough is enough.

Time to change. Spectrum didn’t start out well. The first two techs who came out either couldn’t find their neighborhood junction box, or thought it was in the next door neighbor’s ( who actually lives in another country) yard,which was locked . Only because I happen to see another Spectrum installer who was looking for their box too, but happened to find it, did I find out where it was so I could get our service installed. Their box was not in my next four neighbor’s yard after all. Clueless.

The third attempt at installing service might be the one? The contractor spent nearly 5 hours running new fiber lines (yeah!) from their box to our house, running a drop to a different part of the house where the cable modem needed to be located, set up the VOIP service. I finally got to connect that Netgear Nighthawk X8 that I bought in anticipation of getting service worthy of spending $350 for a router.

Netgear Nighthawk X8

Its a beast, weighing 7lbs.  And those four external attenaes are all going to be pointing to the other end of the house where WiFi has always been poor. Now if Spectrum’s speed was what they indicated! Latest test showed 117 meg down, 11.5 meg up. The router has a lot of capabilities and not a piece of cheap junk like the ATT gateway.

The VOIP service went out the next day and the tech was diligent in trying to root out the problem. Didn’t entirely figure out what could be a wiring problem affecting one of the TVs, but did seemingly finally fix the VOIP, though he spent the better part of four hours doing so.

After all of that, I now have time to get everything reconnected. My plan was to rename the NetGear SSID and password to the same as we used before. This worked, sometimes. But I still needed to set up static IPs for several devices, set up port forwardings, change the default gateway address used in my Synology server. You realize how much you depend on this technology when things don’t work. First world problems like Alexa not being able to turn lights on or off, your thermostat and security camera being disconnected from the network, Plex not being able to stream outside your network.

Seems like everything is finally working, for now.

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