Saturday, January 15, 2011

Does AT&T U-verse make my AT&T landlines more unreliable?

During Hurricane Wilma in South Florida in October 2005, most South Florida residents lost electricity for almost a week or more. Those that had digital phones that didn't have generator were simply without phone service. For me, the most reliable or only piece of technology that worked was my AT&T POTS telephone line. In fact in past five years, I think the phone service has been up more than 99% or more. Since that time, I vowed never to move to a digital phone service.

For those living in South Florida, AT&T has recently expanded their U-verse offering as is blatantly obvious from the plethora of U-verse Television ads. Earlier this week, AT&T came to install U-verse to my residence. Unfortunately, because of my desire to keep my landline and not switch to the U-verse Digital Phone Service as well as some wiring in my building, they were not able to install it. In concept, it sounded great and I couldn't believe it when I saw 32MB Internet Speed on the Repairman's meter. AT&T U-verse uses one clean pair of twisted pair wires and if you want to keep your landline, they will need to find another clean pair in your walls, one for U-verse TV / U-verse Internet and the other for your landline. I was even more impressed when I found out that I could keep my AT&T DSL IP Address. In addition, I would have been even more excited to have them lay CAT5 wire through my house like they have been doing for some customers rather than use the existing coax cables.

Well, after aborting the U-verse installation, the not so cooperative AT&T installer kept telling me how he had to leave and call his manager. During the installation attempt, he kept reconfiguring the phone jacks in my residence and after many attempts he finally got my landlines working again. He left without fixing my DSL line and told me I had to call. I did and it took several calls to get it working again. Eventually, after a few more calls to AT&T, they sent a line repairmen who increased the speed of my DSL - I was back to being a loyal AT&T customer.

5 days later, after 4p.m. in the afternoon on a Saturday, I discovered that my landline was down and my Internet was 3X slower. When I checked around in my building, I found out that the AT&T Installation guys had been there all day installing U-verse for others in my building. Of course, it happens on a Saturday.....

Apparently, this experience is common for AT&T U-verse customers. After it is installed, their landline goes down but their Internet line and U-verse Television is up and running. You get the error message on your phone that the line is in use.

So I've seen some early adopter U-verse chatter that maybe the AT&T telephone installer might have done this on purpose because they want to deprecate my landline. They want me to use their U-verse Digital Phone Service. It appears that the "Extension in Use" is a common landline error message once U-verse is installed.

I've always been a loyal AT&T customer with iPhones, IPads, 3G laptop cards, DSL and my landline. Although I would like to see AT&T be kinder to their loyal customer though discounts, there have really few alternatives, especially with the iPhone. That was until the Verizon announcement this week and after my experience with my landline, maybe it is time to free myself from the AT&T Repairman.

Finally, I can only surmise from this experience that the expansion of AT&T U-verse will ultimately make its AT&T flagship landline service including it's 911 service less reliable. Maybe it's time to consider a another solution...

Do you think AT&T will have my landline running on Sunday? Do you think my AT&T repairman does Sundays?