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Giving up on AT&T U-verse - ka9q [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
ka9q

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Giving up on AT&T U-verse [Oct. 10th, 2013|08:34 pm]
ka9q
I'm finally giving up on AT&T's U-verse service after four years of frustration.

Around October 1 AT&T pushed down a firmware update to my "residential gateway" (the AT&T-provided VDSL modem and router I must use) that supports IPv6. That would seem like a good thing, but it's not. IPv6 is disabled, I have no way to turn it on, AT&T's support staff has no idea what IPv6 is or when they'll enable it, and the gateway now blocks ALL IPv6-in-IPv4 tunneled packets, including those I had been tunneling myself. That is, it blocks IPv4 protocol 41.

In other words, AT&T completely broke IPv6 for me without any warning. They did it when I was out of the country, so I had to remotely diagnose the problem, disable IPv6 on all my hosts and remove my AAAA DNS records.

The really funny thing is that just a month ago an AT&T chat agent talked me into accepting a new residential gateway with the IPv6 firmware. I hooked it up, discovered the same problems related above, put my old gateway back in service and returned the new one to AT&T. Now they have made my old gateway equivalent to the new, broken one I rejected.

AT&T's disregard for their customers is stunning. Not one of the bugs I documented shortly after I got the service in November 2009 has been fixed. This is the last straw.

I originally got U-verse because it was the fastest internet service available in my area at the time: 3 Mb/s up and 24 Mb/s down. Times have changed; Time Warner has rolled out DOCSIS3 and I've signed up for their fastest service: 5 Mb/s up and 50 Mb/s down.

Yet another promising technology ruined by corporate incompetence. I'm almost embarrassed to say that I used to work for AT&T (through Bell Laboratories) 30 years ago.
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Comments:
From: ka9q
2013-10-19 04:34 am (UTC)
A followup: reading the U-verse forums I saw that higher speeds (45 Mb/s down, vs 24 Mb/s now) are now available through the use of "pair bonding", running VDSL2 over two telephone lines instead of one. This brings U-verse back into competition with TWC's DOCSIS3 service, on speed at least.

More importantly, pair bonding requires a new Residential Gateway, the Motorola NVG-589. Users who have gotten this box report that it works much better than the standard 2Wire/Pace 3801HGV. IPv6 actually works!

The NVG-589 manual suggests that its software has a different genetic origin than the 2Wire/Pace 3801HGV, so maybe it doesn't share its many braindead bugs and misfeatures, none of which have been fixed in the 4 years I've had it. The NVG-589 menus suggest that it may be possible to completely turn off packet filtering. That would be a godsend!

So I put in an order for the pair-bonding upgrade so I can compare it side-by-side with Time Warner's DOCSIS3 cable modem service.

We may end up keeping pieces of both services. We're definitely dumping the Uverse premium TV tier that we hardly ever watch and replacing it with Time Warner's basic tier with the few channels we actually do watch on occasion (Discovery for Mythbusters, of course; KPBS; BBC America for Dr Who; and Comedy Central). An A/B comparison shows that U-verse definitely has the inferior picture; they probably recompress to a lower bit rate. Switching to TWC for TV would give us a better picture and offload that traffic from U-verse if we decide to keep it for Internet dialtone.

Why keep U-verse for Internet access? Only one reason, really. TWC requires you to switch to Business Class service at hundreds of dollars per month just to get a static IP address. AT&T sells static IP addresses as a reasonably priced option to U-verse service.

We haven't decided what to do about plain old telephone service. The service bundled with U-verse gives unlimited domestic for $35/mo, but like many people we seem to use our wired phones mainly to call our mobile phones when we're trying to find them. And nearly every incoming call is from a telemarketer.

Seriously, I still prefer wired phones when available for their comfortable handsets and better voice quality, as mobile phones use heavy speech compression. But many 3rd party VoIP services are much cheaper than AT&T's $35, not that that's all that much. But AT&T's ancillary voice services are very poor, particularly voice mail. You can't automatically forward it to an arbitrary email address; you have to get on their flash-heavy website, and while you can manually forward messages from there you have to do it one message at a time!

Edited at 2013-10-19 04:55 am (UTC)
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