AT&T’s U-Verse Service

A number of my friends have this and seem to be pleased. U-verse is vDSL — even though when I ordered it, they told me it was FibreOptic — and has speeds up to 18MBPS. It’s not been available in my neighbourhood until this month, though the product itself is a few years old. Normally they sell it as a package including TV, DVR, VOD, etc. They do offer an Internet Only variety, which is what I got. I won’t give up my DirecTV.

Today was installation day. From 8am to 10am window. The first tech showed up at 815 and told me to remove the DSL router. I did. He disconnected my existing aDSL and connected the vDSL and as he was finishing the second crew of two arrived to do the install. They were pleased to see it was Internet only because it shouldn’t take long. How wrong they were.

I asked if we could use my existing router (N wireless) with their modem (G wireless) and they said yes. So they did their voodoo magic and got signal to my computer room (yay) and it was strong too: maxing out at just over 14MBPS during trials. We hooked up my router, disabled the wireless on theirs, and…. NOTHING. No connection. Every attempt to make my router and theirs play nice failed.

That left the arduous task of reprogramming every connection in the house to the new network. That’s a PS3, Wii, DirecTV DVR, Guest Room computer, work laptop, and my PC. Sounds easy but with a G signal we were having range issues. It all works except the Wii which probably works but we never tested it.

They prepared to leave, and I said to wait, let’s make sure e-mail works. Fail. We can receive e-mail but not send it. First error: the instructions on the U-verse page for the Mac have a serious typo. They have the SMTP and POP instructions reversed. We caught this after a little while (doh!) ourselves. It just wouldn’t work. The tech called into support and was transferred all over hell and back (India, Texas, and so on). They subject their own employees to this crap: not a good sign.

Finally we got a good tech who was able (after over ONE HOUR) figure out what the problem was. But first, I wish to point out that the tech could NOT understand that I was using my server ( to receive and theirs to send. This was over his head. Seriously. Anyway, neither here nor there. Finally he figured it out. The instructions on their website (the faulty ones) are for AT&T/BellSouth addresses only. Seriously. If you have another address, you have to use their webpanel, authorize that individual address you want to send from, enter a key into the webpanel in an email they send, and then you can send using totally different instructions. That was a long, long process. This isn’t the optimal solution, but at least I’m not isolated.

I then ask how to make NNTP work (Usenet). This issue never resolved. All settings are correct, and it even connects to their server. It shows “95 new messages” and then says ‘authentication failed’ — so there’s a problem. The thing is NNTP is simple. There’s not a lot to change unlike email. We even created a new NNTP account and started over. Same result. If anyone has a Mac, Entourage, and can get NNTP to work over U-verse, tell me how. My U-verse friends are welcome to help me out here or anyone wise in the ways of NNTP. Hint, hint, nudge, nudge. I hate to have to pay for a service that I get, but can’t access. Update: I have read-only NNTP access through a server. I am now happily reading rec.humor.funny and again. I cannot post from this free server, but it does offer free read-only access for NON BINARY groups (ie: no photos and such) — no attachments of any kind to any posts. Worse, I have found out my DirecTV VideoOnDemand feature no longer works. I didn’t even think about that. I’ll try that tomorrow. ATT U-verse sucks more and more. They really need to survey their customers, get a list of equipment you expect to use and then make sure they’re prepared to handle it. The bottom line is the speeds are zippy, but I would never wish this process on anyone. Ever. No matter what. I got to work well after 1pm. (After they left, I re-did their router and changed it to match my old settings and then re-set my wireless points and all is well again albeit at G speeds instead of N speeds. Amazing Firefox conveniently remembered the password they used to access the internal router screens. Fancy that.)

Special kudos to Billy Elliot, the Broadway remake of the legendary West End show. It scored FIFTEEN Tony nominations. It’s one of my favourite plays of all time, perhaps my favourite. While I haven’t seen the New York version, I’m sure it’s almost as brilliant as London. (Though looking at pictures of the cast, the kids don’t look very much like Billy….)

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