Sunday, January 4, 2015

Goodbye U-Verse!

I've finally gotten rid of AT&T U-Verse.  After years of expensive television and painfully slow Internet service I finally convinced my wife that we needed to change television and Internet service providers.  We changed from Dish Network Satellite television and AT&T DSL Internet to U-Verse for both services back in 2012.  You can read about that experience here.  The problems I found with U-Verse from the start were numerous, 1) the installer put the required and less than adequate U-Verse router in the worst place in my home for coverage reducing my kitchen table to a work desk, 2) the installation itself was lame, and 3) worst of all, the U-Verse television and Internet share bandwidth.  I paid for the fastest U-Verse Internet available, 18 Mbps Max Plus, but I got far less, with 7 Mbps typically being used for the television which left only 11 Mbps for Internet.  I was ready for a change.

Susan and I were in the Costco in Brookhaven, GA before Christmas.  We were in the Brookhaven store because the Costco in Morrow near our home sucks.  It was in the Costco where the DirecTv satellite television sales guy snagged me with his sales pitch.  Before I knew it we were scheduled for an appointment to install DirecTv service.  Before the service technician arrived, and while both the TV and Internet were still on U-verse, I tested my Internet speed.  The result was 11.2 Mbps download and 1.81 Mbps upload speed.

After the DirecTv was installed and U-Verse was only providing Internet service, the DVR and receivers were removed, I tested the speed again.  It improved, now my download speed was 20.54 Mbps and my upload speed was 1.98 Mbps.

My plan to get rid of AT&T was halfway complete, until I was reminded that AT&T recently purchased DirecTv, and then there's my cellphone service which is AT&T as well.

The Comcast guy was supposed to arrive to install new cable Internet a few days after my DirecTv installation.  He arrived on a rainy morning.  He was polite and seemed to have everything he needed, for the most part.  The cable from the street to my house was bad so he had to run a new line.  We had about 55 trees removed about a year ago so that could have had something to do with the cable issue.  The Comcast guy ran the cable over my fence and across the back yard.  The cable burying crew should resolve that issue eventually.

In preparation for the installation of my cable Internet service I purchased a new Linksys WRT1900AC router and a new Arris Motorola SB6141 modem.  Providing my own equipment saves me about $9 or $10 per month.  Buying my own equipment is a better alternative to paying top dollar to rent what would have likely been sub-par equipment from Comcast.  I purchased both items from  The router was $197 and the modem was $90.

I speed tested my new Internet with my laptop connected via Ethernet cable directly to the cable modem first and then via the WiFi.

In addition to my service being 3 times faster, at a cheaper price for the 12 months and still reasonable afterwards, the coverage provided by my new router is awesome.  I'm no longer relegated to surfing from the kitchen table.

As the installer left my house he knocked down and broke my 45 lbs concrete gargoyle from its perch on my mailbox probably with the ladder on the top of his van.  Then he ran over my sprinkler head with the orange flag beside it (so no one runs it over).   He was a one man wrecking crew. What made it worse is he didn't even say a word about it.  My driveway is curved and some people have trouble backing out.  I found the gargoyle laying in the street where it could have easily destroyed a neighbor's front car bumper.

He did get my Internet working before he left.  He installed it in the basement as I requested.  Since the basement is in a state of "unfinishedness" it was the easiest course of action.  He did run the drop cable from the box at the southeast corner of my lot all the way around to the the northwest corner of my house to get access to a ground and then back to the northeast corner of my house to gain access to the basement.  The cable is probably about 140' longer than it needs to be and just because he didn't have access to a ground.  Had I known beforehand I would have installed a ground rod.  I might still buy one as the crew assigned to bury the cable will probably not arrive for some time.  A previous example of their level of service had a Comcast cable to my neighbor's house laying in the gutter and jutting across the street for the better part of 2 years.  I laughed every time I saw a Comcast truck drive by knowing full well they saw the orange cable just laying there.

In addition to Internet speed, cost was also a factor in my decision to switch from U-Verse.  Here's a quick look at the numbers. I was paying $56 per month for an advertised 18Mbps as part of my U-Verse TV and Internet package.  Any introductory pricing from AT&T had long since expired.  My 50 Mbps Comcast Blast Internet introductory price is $44.99 for the first 12 months.  After 12 months the price goes up to $66.95 for High Speed Internet and $10 more for Blast for a total of $76.95 per month.  That's $20.95 more than I was paying for U-Verse.  A better comparison would be dollars / Mbps.

U-Verse $56 / 20.54 Mbps = $2.73 per 1 Mbps
Comcast $76.95 / 59.50 Mbps = $1.29 per 1 Mbps

U-Verse is 212% more expensive comparing Mbps to Mbps.  I'm clearly not a fan of U-verse or a fan of Comcast for that matter.  I just feel like I'm getting more for my money with Comcast.  If there were no introductory discount and the cost of my awesome router and modem combined ($287) were inserted into the mix over the same 12 month period that would add about $23.92 per month.  That would increase my cost with Comcast to $100.87 per month.

Comcast $100.87 / 59.50 Mbps = $1.70 per 1 Mbps

Oops!  Wait a minute.  I got a $300 Costco gift card for signing up for DirecTv.  So, in a round about way, I broke even.  The real test will be whether or not I use the additional bandwidth at my disposal.  I'm thinking that I will.

So, that's my story.  I'm sure that almost everyone has a story about their phone or cable company.   This is just the latest chapter of mine.  I'll return my U-Verse equipment.  Getting my U-Verse service canceled was a saga in itself.

Thanks for reading.

Update (3/14/15): After a few months of bills from my new television provider, DirecTv, I've come to realize that their pricing is a bit misleading.  While I had expected an introductory price of about $42, I found that the actual price was just less than double that amount.  It was $82.  The extra cost is partly the 3 receivers but in reality their pricing is unattainable considering the fact that one must have at least one receive to use the service.  My second complain is with the interface.  I found the U-Verse to be better but I think I prefer the Dish Network interface to any of them.  However, I haven't had Dish Network in several years which is plenty of time for them to screw it up.