AT&T U-verse Questions – HELP!

My fiancée and I are moving stuff into our new place, debating which TV to buy, waiting for the bed to be delivered, trying to find decent furniture, and then we realized one important thing: We should probably get internet. Before I jump to the point of this post I want to give a little preface.

When choosing this place we did so based on a huge list of criteria ranging from our budget to its location, etc., etc. Everything is truly amazing except for the fact that the only internet provider we can get is AT&T U-verse. What a total drag. I hate being victim to a monopoly, but supposedly the developers gave TWC time to come in but they were late so they closed up the ground and said no more running lines.

Our apartment complex was built just under a year ago. AT&T U-verse ran fiber lines directly to each unit during construction. U-verse has a dedicated rep for our complex that supposedly gives pretty good deals to rival what AT&T will sell you on their website. So I got the guy’s number and gave him a call.

I got on the phone and cut right to the chase: I want the best internet you got and I want a little bit of TV too. So he put together a package that comes in at $76/month +California taxes (that price includes their hidden fees and modem leasing, yada yada) and a guarantee that our prices do not go up each year due to the special deal we got through our complex. Yep, that’s cheaper than their online prices (I’d be paying 86 for the same package and slowest internet). I choked when he told me how fast the connection was: 18mbps. Excuse me, say what? I currently have 100mbps from TWC. The rep told me “Yeah but this is Fiber running straight to your unit. It’s better.” I asked, “Why?” He said, “because it has more bandwidth and on TWC you have lots of people sharing the same line and that slows you down.” I replied, “Speedtests showed me getting 100mbps-125mbps at all times. I didn’t feel slow. I downloaded any time of day at 10 megabytes to 13 megabytes a second.” He replied again about it being consistent and great.

Having no choice, we’re going to have our setup occur on March 30th. My question to you all is whether or not this guy is giving me a load of crap. I see 18mbps and I think I’m about to go back to the stone age. I want to watch my Netflix in super HD and not have any buffering issues, and I want to do it while playing online games with great ping. Am I going to be okay? Speak comfort to me, friends!

  • Last year, when I tried to get broadband from AT&T, my ongoing discussions with their reps, during which the clearly lied to me about speed and availability, and then later retracted those statements when I asked pointed and direct questions, got me to sign up with Comcast. I know everybody hates Comcast, but they seemed to be able to deliver relative to AT&T in Silicon Valley at least.

    The word in our neck of the woods is that unless you order the full boat, TV/Phone/Internet U-verse package, AT&T will try and push whatever data rate they promised through the 50 year old twister pair phone wires that they can barely make work for ADSL. You have to order the full packaged to get them to actually do something about the connection from the pole to your actual home.

  • Hah. Well do you think that’s an issue given the fact that they (at least claim) to have run brand new fiber directly to each unit? That’s their big selling point right now that it was fresh fiber less than a year ago run right to the house (FTTH I guess is how they abbreviate it?).

  • I’ve worked for one major ISP in their tech support department. The one thing I will tell you is that the people that handle the sales end know NOTHING. They lie just to get you sold on the service.
    A 18 meg connection is no where close to the 100 meg connection you had before. Downloading at 10-13 megs/sec before….yea, that won’t be happening at your new place.
    Now, the connection may be solid. You should be just fine streaming anything on that connection. Your ping for gaming should be fine also. The main spot where you will see the difference is your download speed. Also, multi-tasking online might be difficult if you are trying to do a lot of things that require bandwidth. I have a 100 meg connection, and at night I can download a new game off Steam, play my MMO of choice that night, talk in TeamSpeak/Mumble, and stream some HD sports on my side monitor, and I can do all of that without noticing a single bit of lag. Your 18 meg connection cannot do that.

  • You got screwed. That doesn’t even qualify as broadband or high speed under fcc rules now. Also these companies are notorious for not following these rules when they say they won’t raise prices.

  • @Justin: Sigh, I guess at least it’ll hopefully be consistent. Now I’m all majorly depressed.

    @Danath: Well, the way the complex and the AT&T guy talked is that they basically renew you every year at that rate. Sales guy says he does it because he gets a bonus for every new contract, so it gets redone every year. And yeah, it sucks that the speeds are so low. 🙁 I said to the guy, “can I get faster? Any way to get it faster? And he was rock solid on that being as fast as it goes in my area. I checked online and it is indeed the fastest we being offered.

    Uverse in general only goes up to 45mbps unless you live in an area where AT&T is trying to rival Google and offering better speeds.

  • With the apt building already wired, you really have no other option. Like it was said above, you will be fine doing most things but will see a slow down if you try to do multiple things. I am surprised at that speed if the final connection is through fiber. I thought the last wire to the house/apt is usually your bottleneck. There must be something else going on further down the line.

    Watch your wireless speed. If it comes to your router at that speed then any wireless connection to that will be a bit slower too. The wired connection should be fine.

  • @Topauz: It’s AT&T in the area. Heck, the fastest U-Verse in the country is 45mbps and they just rolled that out in select markets. U-Verse must be terrible.

    What I want is for a reader of ours who actually has U-verse to comment. Anyone? anyone out there have U-verse and game/netflix/etc with no issues?

  • If you are meeting with that U-verse guy again you should ask him when they plan on upgrading that service to qualify as broadband.

    “U.S. regulators on Thursday raised the standard for high-speed Internet, voting that only connections with download speeds of 25 megabits per second or faster will qualify as broadband. The Federal Communications Commission’s previous definition of broadband was a download speed of at least 4 Mbps .Jan 29, 2015”

  • You are f-d. I have u-verse. It’s bleh. This reminds me to consider a change. Such a pain.

  • I just called TWC (twice). Told them the story about U-verse being the only one supposedly able to get me service here and they were like “oh that doesn’t make sense let’s see.” 30 seconds later “oh, well yep they’re right we can’t get you service.” I called back to get another person. That person said the same thing but said they could put in a special request to see if they could run extra lines to me but wanted a credit check. I declined.

    Called Verizon – They swear my address doesn’t exist (LOL) and can’t help me.

    Looks like I am stuck with U-verse.

    @Sleepysam: How bleh is bleh, and what speed do you have and what issues do you face? Particullarly as it regards to gaming and streaming, etc.

  • I have U-verse too. The 25 mbps package. Downloads are not great, but gaming typically is not and issue.

    Multi-tasking streaming, voice chat and online gaming could be issues though. I know there were times when downloading updates, using skype and playing games was too much that the games suffered. Another downside, U-Verse TV runs on the same connection as your internet, I believe.

    You likely won’t have much recourse though. Plan on downloading clients ahead of time. If you stay anyway from downloading while trying to game and stream you will be ok, but there will be some issues.

  • Address the new broadband rules with your apartment complex, too. Say their offered internet won’t qualify as broadband under the new regulations. As a marketing expert, wink-wink, they’ll want to address this in order to market as offering broadband connectivity in the near future.

    Also, ATT might be able to send someone out there to upgrade your lines themselves. I think they basically pair two fiber line to get the 45 mbps speeds anyways.

  • That’s a very good idea JJ. Didn’t think of that one. Could let the apartment complex know they aren’t being offered broadband service. None of the articles I’ve read mention an effective date so I imagine it’s already in effect as of now. As of right now an 18 meg connection isn’t broadband.

  • Well, I just don’t get ATT, with FTTH, they can offer up to 10 GBits/s easily since Fiber has that capability. It only works though if its Fiber to the Router. Which I don’t get why they don’t do it. The reason 45 is the max, is because the last leg from the wall of your house to the inside router is copper, and you can only do 24 over a single copper, and they use 2 cables to bond them and give you 45 (thats best case right next to the station for DSL), otherwise its anywhere from 10-40 depending on distance from the colocation. Not sure if that applies to fiber, I don’t think it does, but fiber can do 10 GBits/s over 160 km, which is pretty great. DSL service is measured in yards/ft, not miles.

    Your best bet is to see if they have any plans to get you Gigabit in that area, its the only way. Either that, or go with a WISP service if you have one, or deal with the low 18 mbps. Its fine for gaming, but a little tight for streaming. especially if you stream multiple things, or do your own streaming.

    Its tough. Its why I never move anywhere without at least Cable or Google. I check internet before moving.

  • @Keen So expensive for what you get.

    Here in Europe I get 120 mbps for 58$ a month taxes included. (and cable tv!! included)
    Maybe things will get better with the new net neutrality laws??

  • @ Zyler

    Yes, I am sure 400 pages of proposed government regulations will make broadband cheaper and better for everyone…

  • It sounds like one of those things in life that worrying about wont change.

  • LOL, I’m sorry but let me just bring some reality to your situation.I live in South Africa, I have 8 mbps internet and I am in the top 10% of the fastest speed home broadband users in South Africa. I am very happy with my internet as it is one of the fastest lines possible in SA.
    So just to put it in perspective, you may feel hard done by, but trust me you have it good 😉

  • Just to point this out: There is no direct connection between your bandwidth and ping, some of the best ping I’ve ever had has been on low bandwidth connections.
    Otherwise, it seems strange to me that we have arrived in a situation where 2.25MB/s download speeds are considered slow, I remember downloading 50 MB mov/asf files with 8 KB/s.

  • I can remember as far back as the 14.4k modem days. Upgrading to the 28.8 then the 56k… heck, I played EverQuest on a 56k for 6 months! 😀

    I feel pathetic for complaining, but I hate spending almost as much on 18mbps and some TV as I did a 100mbps connection.

    @Reaper: Yeah, that’s true. I think what I’m worried about is my wife watching Netflix or regular tv and me playing at the same time.

  • So, I’ll have to run a speedcheck later I don’t remember what speeds i’m getting (or which deal i’m signed up for).

    I was hoping for Verizon FIOS when I got u-verse, but they don’t reach our neighborhood.

    I do like the u-verse setup because my iphones/ipads are used as remotes, and I have a bluetooth remote u-verse provided that allows me to hide one of the boxes. They have also come a long in having on demand stuff in their app.

  • What kind of a gamer doesn’t check the internet speeds as the first thing when looking at an apartment, such a rookie move. Though at least the price is dirt cheap, Comcast here in MA costs me $200 a month for TV/Internet, but that’s full TV and Boost Internet (125mbps on a test), which for me is worth it.

    As others have said, for most games that aren’t ping-heavy (not FPS or MOBAs), you will be fine. Multi-tasking though will likely be a noticeable drop-off, and god help you if you are playing a FPS and Steam starts an auto-update or someone else wants to watch something on Netflix. Also games that push 30gbs or larger (more and more common) won’t be a ‘let me grab this real quick’ situation, but a “back in the day” overnight deal.

  • @SynCaine: Really didn’t have a choice. Not much available in the area, and these apartments are phenomenal (brand new and sooooo affordable and we were on the wait list for 6 months). I’ve realized I am now first a husband and second a gamer. 😉 In the end, wife being happy matters more to me than my internet speeds. I’ll just bitch about it on my website to feel better. And it’s an apartment, so I’ll live with it for a year or two tops then we can start talking houses (WHICH I WILL SCRUTINIZE FOR INTERNET SPEEDS)!

    Honestly it’s going to be the ‘someone else watches netflix’ and the ’30gbs in 15 minutes’ I miss most. I come from a house where we had 4 people on the internet at once on all sorts of devices all downloading and never feeling the pain.

  • #citypeopleproblems

    How about you come out into rural america, where we don’t even get an in-ground internet option. You can’t even get DSL where I live. It’s sattelite or Verizon’s 4G LTE fixed internet.

    I spend $60 a month for 10GB a month data cap, and it’s anywhere from 4-20mbps down usually. Supposedly it can go up to ~50mbps if you live right next to a tower.

    Streaming isn’t even an option. Hell, we don’t even attempt to do any internet radio. If you want to download a game, you better plan out how many pieces of it to download over several months, or just skip any game that’s going to take a 15+ GB download.

  • My husband and I were in the same boat at our previous residence (U-Verse exclusive apartment complex). Can also confirm that video streaming is fine as was gaming. It was though, without a shadow of a doubt quite a bit slower than cable and you will run into bandwidth issues if too many people are doing too many things.

  • Thank you Keiya, I appreciate the firsthand insight. I’m hoping between the two of us we don’t use too much bandwidth. Hearing that gaming and streaming were doable makes me a little more comfortable.

  • I have Uverse Keen. I have ZERO bandwidth issues with the 18mbs package. The only problem you will have is going from 10-13 meg a second downloads to around 2 meg. Takes some adjustment.

  • Keen you have fiber directly to your apartment and Uverse doesn’t offer their 45 meg service?

  • @Brett: Nope 🙁 maybe they’ll offer it soon. I’m waiting for my rep to call me back and talk. I’m going to push for info on why it’s not faster.

  • Well as someone who has used both Uverse 18mb and TWC 200mb and also happens to work for ATT (I work for Mobility specifically but we deal with Wireline in a limited capacity) I can tell you a few things:

    Firstly, run a speedtest the moment you get the service, sometimes you’ll get above advertised speeds. My 18mb with uverse never ran below 24mb speeds which was nice.

    Secondly, Uverse generates extra ping, I don’t recall the exact techie jargon on why (feel free to google it) but the way the technology works is there is an extra layer of…er…stuff…that happens with uverse that creates extra ping. As an example my ping for SWTOR on TWC is 27 on average but 43 with Uverse. It’s really not noticeable unless you’re starting at ping bars but it’s there.

    Thirdly, the whole “dedicated lines” and “Fiber to the Node” (note: Uverse is NEVER Fiber to the Premises which is what FiOS is) is marketing salesmeny garbage. It results in no perceptible difference to the end-user.

    Fourthly, 18mb is enough to stream Netflix and play video games. In fact you can safely play your games with your downstream saturated upwards of 90%. MMOs don’t send large files while you’re playing (updates and installs being the exception of course). I went a week without real internet and tethered my cellphone to my desktop and largely played FF14 alright and that was with less than 3Mb downstream.

    Lastly, you’re going to frakking hate your life when you’re downloading Star Citizens 100GB+ client. Enjoy.

    P.S. What I used to do when I needed to free up bandwidth to download a large RPG was frak with my router’s wifi, booting my wife off it to free up considerable speed. Your mileage will vary based mainly on how good your poker face is.

  • Ahhh, city problems. Out in the country the only choice that’s not dialup (or a several thousand dollar installation) we’ve got is a 1.2mb/s wireless connection. My ping is never lower than 800ms (1500 is typical), and the connection dies for days at a time at random intervals. City folks really are spoiled by their monopoly. Our monopolists are much less kind.

  • Supposedly we’re getting 45mbps in a few months and it’ll be rolled out to residents on the 18mbps without a price increase. I’ll believe it when I see it!

  • I unfortunately live at home with my parents. If my dad is playing online poker and my mom is watching Netflix or some U-Verse recording, my ping in Team Fortress 2 makes it literally unplayable.

  • These comments hurt my brain.

    You will be fine on 18 Mbps download speed and perfectly set at 45 Mbps if/when it happens.

    Your average game or Steam server download tops out at approximately 2 MBps (thats Bytes) which is about 16 Mbps (those would be the bits) which is fine on your connection. FIle size is measured in Bytes and bandwidth speeds in bits; there are 8 bits to every 1 Byte. Bit Torrent is about the only average program anyone would run that gets into higher download rates. Yes, I am sure someone can pull a screenshot up of faster downloads over Steam or whatever but that is completely besides the point: 2 MBps on a file download is EXCELLENT which again is well within your connections reach.

    Your main concern will be the much lower upload speed which can hamper outbound communication. I’d assume you would get between 0.5 and 1 Mbps upload which playing an online game and using teamspeak could burden. It would also likely rule out any live casting.

    A second item to consider is this is with a single user in mind. Putting two users on this trying to both download files or watch HD videos while the other plays games could impact each other. Takes a little more management (for example pausing a Steam download to watch a Netflix show), but you can run into those issues even when there is much more bandwidth available. It makes for good practice to actually understand what is going on with your internet connection and how to control it.

    Source: I have 15 Mbps Charter cabIe (which bursts up to 30 Mbps) and I game, Netflix, Google Voice VoIP call, watch my pr0n, etc. without issue. Oh and I may just happen to work at an ISP (formerly as a lead IP networking technician and now as a manager of a team of coffee powered IP networking technicians). My job descript was literally; “I make the Internet work (most of the time)”.

    With all of this said; AT&T actually has to deliver the 18 Mbps to you. If they have fiber to the building then you are probably in good shape as then its just down to the cabling in your apartment complex. Be careful as AT&T (like many ISPs) are advertising “up to” speeds of 18 Mbps while you may only ever see 10 or less of it.

  • Thanks for the good info, Heartless. I’ve had AT&T for a month now, and my results are decent. My “up to 18mbps” connection has held strong giving me 18-24mbps wired. My wireless connections in the house are also doing decent getting 15-20mbps on average.

    While I miss downloading steam games at 10 megabytes a second (with my 120mbps+ connection), I haven’t noticed any degradation in my gaming experience, or even more latency on ventrilo. In fact, my ping has been great.

    I see that in my closet is a “smart panel” (whatever that means) and I have the fiber lines running right into my closet. Supposedly that means I’m good to go for any speed increases, should AT&T feel the need to ever be generous.

    My only complaint is that my Netflix takes longer to ramp up to a good quality, and it does actually take time for youtube videos to fully load on good resolution.