Blog Post

Waiting for U-Verse in Austin

I spent part of Sunday (a very small part) watching the Daytona 500 with my dad, who happens to have a subscription to DirectTV’s HotPass service. For those of you who aren’t rabid Nascar fans, HotPass allows a viewer to select a radio channel for a particular driver and hear what he and his pit crew are saying. The service broadcasts the radio channel as well as a variety of camera angles.

It’s was pretty cool, but all I could think of was a demonstration of AT&T’s IPTV service a few years ago. During a demo, I “watched” a snippet of a baseball game in which I could choose the camera angles and see stats running along the screen. The HotPass service was similar in look, but you can’t choose which camera angles you get.

Despite those limits, the service was a cool foreshadowing of what could be potentially game-changing technology — if the technological stars align, that is. IPTV, with its almost infinite number of channels available on demand, needs to be deployed. The content providers need to figure out the legal ramifications of allowing people to customize their content as well as what people might want to see. Finally, the networks need to figure out ways to broadcast multiple IP data streams from a live event.

If all this comes together, March Madness a few years from now could be sweet. Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for U-Verse to make it to my section of Austin.

21 Responses to “Waiting for U-Verse in Austin”

  1. U-verse has it’s advantages of being affordable, the channels change quickly, and you can hook it up using cat5 cable instead of coaxial. Now the disadvantages the sleep mode of the receivers gets on my nerves every 8 hours of inactivity “press ok to watch u-verse” screen pops up. I don’t want nor need the DVR I have 2 DVD recorders to record shows. I leave the house to go to work and if the program is 8 hours ahead on the timer record schedule on my dvd recorder my dvd recorder well show the press ok screen instead of the show I am trying to record. Also a lot of the channels have the broadcast flag (macrovision) and you have to hook the converter box up to a macrovision buster device know as Sima CopyThis hard to find since our Gobment of CorpMerica (formally the United States) make the device illegal to manufacture see Macrovision vs Sima Electronics. Some channels requiring use of Sima CopyThis are FOX 7, CNN, WGN, PPV, On Demand, Premium channels, Home Shopping Network, Disney, FX, MTV, and BET. Without my $40 Sima Box my dvd recorder will say COPY PROT and not record. So plan on investing in a video stablizer (macrobuster) for each u-verse receiver hooked up to a dvd recorder. You have to watch your bills with them to make sure they add up, and finally U-verse is only available in select South Austin Neighborhoods It is sad to say when I move to North Austin in the summer, U-verse is not available so my options are Time Warner (overpriced bundle crap), and 2 year contract yabba dabba do Dish, and Direct TV. I like my WGN and cheap so that narrows it down to the following painful soluition Time Warner Basic 2-22 and keep my fingers crossed for 1 year on the u-verse for north/northwest austin

  2. Stacey Higginbotham

    Dan, if I had the choice I would get FiOS for the reasons you’ve outlined. Sadly I don’t have the choice between either and no hope of FiOS ever making it to my neck of the woods. The fact that Verizon won’t come into AT&T’s turf with FiOS is such a clear example of how uncompetitive the broadband market really is. Sigh.

  3. U-Verse is a sad attempt by AT&T to make people believe that their product is “the future” when it is far from it. The AT&T U-Verse website doesn’t even list what speed Internet you get, up or down, when you buy the package. Al it says is “High Speed Internet Express” and you have to hunt around to find real details. From what I have tested myself and based on the average install, most users are getting between 3-6Mbps, and the service maxes out at 10Mbps. The highest upstream you can get with U-Verse is 1.5Mbps,

    By contrast, Verizon’s FiOS service, which I have had for 3 years, does 20Mbps on average and goes up to 50Mbps if you are willing to pay more. And it does 5Mbps for upstream. AT&T is not running fiber to the house for U-Verse, only to your block, which limits the quality. FiOS is run directly to you house so the signal is not being compressed at all. U-Verse is also limited on the number of HD channels it can support now and in the future since they are not bringing fiber directly to the home.

    I know Verizon’s FiOS service is not available everywhere, but it is available in a lot more places than U-Verse and has been around for a lot longer. The service continues to get stronger and faster each year.

  4. Brooke Braziel

    I’ve been waiting on U-verse in North Carolina personally, but the more I hear the more I think I’ll stick with my Timewarner if and when it comes. Seems like there are still a lot of issues for AT&T to figure out.

    I’ve been reading a little on and – which have been good sites to read up on.

  5. Stacey
    Very interesting comments from your U-verse users. There’s a rumor around that AT&T has cut the HD bandwidth from 8.5 megabits to 6.5 as part of the effort to squeeze in two channels. That may work out reasonably well with the new hardware based encoders, but I’ve read too many complaints like this from U-verse people lately. It would be very helpful if you could get solid information on the baudrate they are using.

    Dave Burstein

  6. I totally agree with Todd… I just got U-verse… so far it SUCKS. Now let’s just ignore the fact that ATT still can’t coordinate the back-office management of the system. Beyond that annoyance, the images pixelate all the time, the DVR only works in 1 room (unlike Dish which works in multiple rooms), the internet access is at a crawl (compared to my old ATT DSL), and they cut off my phone line during installation…

    If you’re going to wait for something, hold out for FIOS – I hear that rocks!

  7. Stacey Higginbotham

    Guys, the smashing you hear is the sound of my dreams being shattered. Is anyone enjoying U-Verse? I know my hopes are unrealistic in the short term, but maybe one day (said in a wistful tone)….

  8. I had u-verse for two days. I had it running side-by-side Comcast on my 50″ pioneer plasma. The picture quality on comcast HD was FAR superior. Also, although AT&T was promising 10mbps service, every benchmark i ran showed comcast was actually faster. Felt faster too.

    That said uverse standard def did look better than comcast. That wasn’t enough to get me to keep it.

  9. Man… any time you spending waiting for Uverse is time well spent. That service was really, really buggy and unreliable when I had it six months ago. The cable box crashed often and could take as long as 10 minutes to restart. (That’d drive you nuts during a live sports event.) Meanwhile, HD cut in and out a lot and I found the internet service to be slow. AT&T was under massive pressure from shareholders to expand Uverse quickly… and it shows.

    (P.S. It took techs–three of them–over 12 hours to set up Uverse in my “prewired, uverse-ready” apartment. Crazy!)

  10. Jesse Kopelman

    The thing holding innovation back are all the existing broadcast and licensing agreements. These are all exclusive agreements and tend to be quite broad. Innovation can only come about with the buy-in of these rights holders. For example, one may be beholden to make sure that all of the multiple camera angles offered maintain a clear view of a specific sponsor’s logo, or block the same, for that matter. Meanwhile, if a specific access provider has exclusive rights to the broadcast (say DirecTV or even local affiliates) what incentive to they have to spend money supporting new features when they have no actual competition?

  11. There’s always been something rather energizing about watching raw satellite broadcast feeds. A friend had a hacked box for years when I was a teen and we’d watch the raw syndicate feeds of hockey games quite often, with the sportscasters chattering during commercial breaks, etc.

    What would be more exciting would be the ability to shift between the fully-produced output of a sporting event and effectively building your own realtime “Mash-Up” with the remote control. Handling your own replays, camera angles, and mixing your own audio feeds would increase the interactivity between the viewers and the sport, and turn us all into armchair TV producers. Sports like NASCAR, F1, Hockey, and Football would benefit greatly.


  12. Hi Stacey,

    Great to see someone else talking about….whats coming… I think for too long we’ve been ‘sated’ with basic video on demand, it’s time for the cable networks to step it up yet another notch.

    They are being paid too much per month in cable fees just to deliver straight broadcast….if thats all they have to offer I may as well watch FTA for free.

    Dean Collins