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AT&T says it may be forced to "lay down the shovels" and stop investment in its wired cable offerings if they are reclassified by the FCC.  (Source: Garden Network)
The FCC won't let AT&T be

AT&T's Uverse broadband television and internet bundle is growing in popularity around the country.  It had 2.3 million subscribers at the end of March, up 231,000 from a year earlier.  And it is available to 24 million homes.  

AT&T hopes to reach 30 million households by the end of 2011.  But a change in Federal Communication Commission's (FCC) classification of broadband providers could cause AT&T to decrease funding to Uverse, its executive indicated in recent remarks according to the
Wall Street Journal.

The FCC is considering reclassifying cable internet to a Title 2 service.  Under the tighter Title 2 classification, the FCC would gain new powers of regulation.  AT&T executive Randall Stephenson says that could change the economics of the business.

The FCC says it won't exercises its greatest Title 2 power -- regulating pricing -- but AT&T fears that stance could change at any time.  Stephenson states, "If this Title 2 regulation looks imminent, we have to re-evaluate whether we put shovels in the ground.  I'm a 3-2 vote away from the next guy coming in and saying I disagree with that, I take it away"

Besides pricing, AT&T did not elaborate on what other forms of regulation could be damaging to the economics of its cable television business, though

Stephenson estimates that AT&T will spend a "couple billion" of the approximately $19B USD it spends on wireline and wireless infrastructure this year on the Uverse offering.

Even if the reclassification goes through, it may be shot down in courts.  Courts recently ruled that the FCC did not have the power to censure Comcast for throttling peer-to-peer traffic.  However, that could change with new Net Neutrality legislation that looks to give the FCC greater, explicitly-defined regulatory powers.

That legislation and the reclassification of broadband and cable may have a serious effect on other service providers as well.



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Uverse has hit a road block already!
By jrb531 on 6/16/2010 12:22:25 PM , Rating: 5
The dirty little secret about Uverse is that they have hit a roadblock because they insisted years ago on going cheap and thus reusing that old copper phone line to try and delivery TV/Internet/Phone.

While this work ok under perfect conditions, the market ir rapidly moving to HD and under Uverse you are stuck with 1-3 streams (a term they use to describe how many channels you can either watch or record at the same time) of TV.

When Uverse was in the test lab they were getting much better results (the father you are from the local fiber hub or VRAD, the more errors you get and less service you can get) than real world condiditons proved later.

If you are very close to a hub you can watch/record 3 HD channels at the same time but if you are farther you can only watch/record 1-2 channels of HD.

AT&T has no answer for this and it is speculated that they are hoping that some new technology will come out to allow them to overcome this serious limit.

Lets say you have 4 HD TV's in your home and are a moderate distance from the local hub and can only get 2 channels of HD.

What happens is that the first two channels being watched or recorded can be in HD and the next two drop down to SD. If you are recording 2 shows then that counts as two channels.

There is no fix right now and while Uverse does have a few nice features (one DVR shared for every TV is good because you can watch recorded programs anywhere in the home - drawback is potential limited hard drive recording space if you have multiple TV's and people in the homes who like to record) the simple fact is that Uverse really can only compete vs the big boys on price and their price has been creeping up over the years.

If you are a light user or do not care about HD (their SD quality is actually pretty good) then Uverse might be an option. If you value HD and have more than one HD TV in your home... you might be pretty upset they first time you get that "sorry you ran out of streams" message and are forced to watch SD on that expensive HD TV you just bought.

Only so much data can be transferred over old copper phone line and while other companies such as Verizon have committed to full fiber to your home... AT&T had decided that if you want the best HD... well you can skip them.




RE: Uverse has hit a road block already!
By viewwin on 6/16/10, Rating: 0
By ksherman on 6/16/2010 12:48:29 PM , Rating: 2
Though there needs to be a balance. They need wires to the cell towers, so infrastructure investments in cables are still necessary.


By jrb531 on 6/16/2010 12:49:26 PM , Rating: 3
It's clear that AT&T is banking on the Iphone for the immediate future and putting Uverse on the backburner. They are happy to "cherry pick" less demanding customers for Uverse and accept losing the more advanced customers.

IMHO there is not enough spectrum to move all TV to 100% wireless... at least wireless that does not require a big dish LOL... and what may work on a tiny cell phone screen, will not work on a 50+ inch 1920x1080 screen :)

This is all about money and years ago when the cable companies were spending 10's of billions of dollars to upgrade their networks... AT&T sat on their hands and collected profits doing VERY minimal upgrades to their networks.

Now they want to compete with the big boys using a "cheap" hybrid tech that just cannot compete.

In the end I really do not care about what tech is used.... I want to watch HD and I'll go to whatever company can provide what I need for the least amount of money.

I tried Uverse for a year and in the end being limited to 2 streams of HD just to save $15 a month was just not worth it to me.


By afkrotch on 6/17/2010 12:39:39 AM , Rating: 2
Except that wireless technology isn't overtaking wired technology in the next few years. Where do you think the bandwith for those wireless towers come from? That's right, wires.


RE: Uverse has hit a road block already!
By SixSpeedSamurai on 6/16/2010 12:59:19 PM , Rating: 2
Don't forget the Dolby Digital bug with U-Verse if your U-Verse box is hooked up to a A/V receiver. Skips, pops, and drops, over 2 years and no fix.

I recently dumped my U-Verse TV and went back to Directv. Way better picture and I was able to get the new multiroom DVR.

Kept U-Verse internet, very happy with it compared to Charter.


By jrb531 on 6/16/2010 1:06:51 PM , Rating: 2
Same here... kept Uverse for Internet/Phone (that part is very stable) but went back to Dish for TV.

Once you get used to watching things in HD... well you just do not want to go back :)


By IcePickFreak on 6/16/2010 7:29:28 PM , Rating: 2
I've been with Directv for 8+ years, but last year I decided to give U-verse a shot just to see if the grass was greener. It was a disaster starting with their horrible installation. I had to work so I couldn't be there, but they had cut cables, replaced hdmi with composite rca cables on an hdtv, etc. And to top it off one TV didn't work. They 'improved' that problem, but it still would pause on HD channels. Then I also found I could only have 2 HD channels on in the entire house. It lasted a week before I had my directv box hooked back up.

I did however keep the U-verse internet as well and have been happy with that FWIW.


RE: Uverse has hit a road block already!
By Redwin on 6/16/2010 8:36:38 PM , Rating: 2
OMFG this bug is so annoying.. HOWEVER it does have a workaround, at least on my UVerse box.

Basically, the audio ONLY pops and stutters if I am watching a show (usually HD, but I watch almost no SD so hard to say) that is broadcasting in 2-channel stereo and NOT 5.1 with your UVerse TV box set to output audio in Surround

A good example would be The Daily Show on comedy central HD. The video is HD, but the audio is only 2-channel stereo instead of the 5.1 you'd expect from most "HD" sources.

If you have your UVerse box set to output digital audio in "Surround" it will pop and stutter. If you go into the menu and change it from "Surround" to "Stereo", the popping will magically vanish.

If the HD show you are watching IS actually in 5.1, then you can leave your box set to "Surround" and it will sound great and be fine.

So.... the "workaround" is when I start watching something and it starts popping (I always query my receiver and it always confirms its only getting a 2-channel source) I have to go into the UVerse Menu -> Options -> Audio/Language Options -> Digital Audio Output, and switch it to stereo, and then try to remember to switch it back to surround after that show is done (else my regular 5.1 HD shows don't sound nearly as good)

In general I am happy with the service (go 24mbps internet!) but if they don't fix this audio problem I am gunna start mailing them bags of dog crap. =P


By MGSsancho on 6/17/2010 3:24:43 AM , Rating: 2
IAMA charter cable user but hear me out on this. I set my box to digital out which is really bit streaming and my receiver handles all the stuff. either my $1000 receiver is really smart or there is meta data I have never heard of. when a Dolby sound comes in then i can see on the front panel display on the receiver whats going on. when the stereo kicks in (commercials etc) yes my receiver handles it like stero and i have my own settings to handle that but it detects what it is. If the signal voice then it says "Dialogue -X" where X is the number it tries to lower the volume to normalize it. weird does a good job with commercials. anyways to my point, the U-Verse should either to like PLX-II and try to create surround with a stereo signal or just bit stream the PCM stereo and Dolby signal and let your receiver handle it. those of use who care about the 5.1 usually have decent enough equipment to handle the switching.
</rant>


By clovell on 6/16/2010 1:15:35 PM , Rating: 2
Shens - They're not offering & advertising 24 mbps speeds on copper lines. No effing way.


RE: Uverse has hit a road block already!
By sweetspot on 6/16/2010 1:32:37 PM , Rating: 2
Not completly true, can get 4 HD sets over the vrad, I have 5 set up in house and can watch 4 of the 5 at once.

Depends on where you live what FTTN / VRAD type service is avialable in your area is more likely the deal. All phone / cable services reguardless of carrier is based on what line types have been put down where you live.

Running new wires across different jurisdictions is expensive in todays over regulated economy, the permits alone kill the reason some areas dont get upgraded at all, alot of carriers wont even touch it, simply due to the costs to go their and maintain it once the lines are in place.


By jrb531 on 6/17/2010 10:51:44 AM , Rating: 3
People who can get 4 stream of HD are in the VERY small minority.. heck you can prob see the VRAD from your window :)

Look... it's not "our" fault that we do not happen to live next to the VRAD... we did not pick the location and since we all pay the same money for the service... should we not get the same service?

If Uverse discounted the service depending on what they could provide... well that would be a fair way of compensation for less service but they do not do this.

If you get 1, 2,3, or 4 stream (very few people get 4 streams) you all pay the same!

So AT&T wants to charge up the same because THEY do not want to spend the money to upgrade their service. Uverse is like playing roulette...

Pay your fee, spin the wheel and let chance (where you happen to line, where THEY placed the VRAD and the quality of AT&T's owned lines they they may or may not have upgraded in the past 50+ years) decide how much HD you can watch.

How does cable provide more? Do they not have the very same restrictions and cost on running line in a community? If they can do it then AT&T "could" do it "if" they wanted and if they wanted to spend the money.

Sadly, IMHO, they think we are fools... fools enough to pay full price for less service.

Let me ask you this... you say you have 4 streams of HD right now... would you pay the same for 2 streams? How about only 1 stream?


By MrFord on 6/16/2010 1:38:05 PM , Rating: 2
I didn't know that... reminds me of DSL vs cable.
Verizon took the expensive route with FiOS, but they got rewarded with a growing customer base, and even if Cablevison/TimeWarner tries to convince us (in the NY/NJ region) that so many people are going back to cable, I don't hear a lot of stories where people were dissatisfied with FiOS service. Yes it's more expensive, and customer service is as good as anything Verizon, but for most of the time, it just works, and fast at it.

AT&T can cry a river, it's their own fault then for not doing it correctly the first time.


RE: Uverse has hit a road block already!
By reretteK on 6/16/2010 1:42:51 PM , Rating: 2
What about pair bonding? Technology already exists now....

Should be able to both increase distance a little and bandwidth. Maybe to 3-4 HD streams for most houses.

Maybe they will even go to 3 or 4 lines bonded....I have that many coming from the VRAD.

Plus other technologies like you said may help.

Not giving up!


By HrilL on 6/16/2010 8:14:34 PM , Rating: 2
That is probably possible with the amount of people dropping their analog phone service. They'll have a lot of free lines coming up.


RE: Uverse has hit a road block already!
By Looey on 6/16/2010 3:05:25 PM , Rating: 2
jrb531, you have many mistakes in your description of U-verse and how it works. Do you work for TWC, Directv, Verizon or some other cable company? Why not list the short comings of all subscription TV instead of trying to trash one? What about Directv rain fade for one? I had Directv and TWC for 12 years and I could list many problems with their service. I don't have a job and I don't want one so I'm not representing any company.

There is no dirty little secret about how U-verse works. It is available to anyone interested in how it works.


By hr824 on 6/16/2010 9:24:40 PM , Rating: 2
Well I have uverse and I am not to happy with it.

HD compression is horrible watching any kind of sports or action movie turns the picture to mush.

The audio syncing with a/v receivers is annoying especially if your watching concerts.

1.5 up on the Internet is sad and even if your lucky enough to get the 24 meg down it's still 1.5 up.

Lighting causes the picture to pause, old tele pairs don't shield aginst lighting all that well.

I had none of these problems on cable and would go back but I would rather deny Wide Open West and comcast and live with the problems until ATT pisses me off at wich point I will go to the service with the fastest Internet.


By jrb531 on 6/17/2010 10:56:31 AM , Rating: 2
LOL no I do not work for those companies... I had Uverse TV for over a year...

Rain fade? Yes raid fade causes me to lose the signal for 5-10 mins maybe 3-4 times a year. You are correct that no service is perfect but I'll gladly trade raid fade during cloud bursts vs being forced to watch shows in SD on my big screen TV.


RE: Uverse has hit a road block already!
By Samus on 6/16/10, Rating: 0
By Redwin on 6/16/2010 8:23:48 PM , Rating: 3
Hi Samus, I think tou are a little confused about how UVerse works. There is no "cable" connection separate from the "copper" connection.

UVerse is fiber to your neighborhood VRAD, then VDSL over copper phone lines from there to the box on your house, and then either twisted pair copper (preferably Cat-5) OR co-ax (what you think of as "cable") thorugh the walls of yoru house to the Uverse router, and from there to your TV's, computers, and phones.

Outside your house, ALL the data is coming over the plain old copper telephone wire, via vDSL. The max bandwidth is 32mbps down and 5mbps up, if you are very close (i think under 2000ft, not positive) to the fiber node.

The 2 different numbers you are seeing (22mbps for one and 6mbps for the other) are different things. The 22 is your TOTAL bandwidth to the node (all of it coming over the copper phone line via VDSL). The 6mbps is the amount of that bandwidth allocated to your internet connection, but its still part of the same 22mbps whole. Its 6mbps because that's the internet speed you are paying for.

I have to pay $65 / month for my 24mbps, and I have to have the 32mbps full speed link to the node to allow it (the other 8mbps is for TV and phone). You won't be able to get the 24mbps package if your total link speed is 22mbps, but you could certainly upgrade to more than 6 if you want.


By greywood on 6/16/2010 4:52:39 PM , Rating: 2
Does anyone else here think this sounds like a *threat* by AT&T? They sure sound like a spoiled brat, screaming and throwing its toys out of the pram.


Govern Reg's...
By Reclaimer77 on 6/16/2010 11:37:03 AM , Rating: 1
Are all fine and dandy until they effect YOU. Let's see all the DT socialists, ironically, rage against this change :)

/popcorn




RE: Govern Reg's...
By Flunk on 6/16/2010 12:18:51 PM , Rating: 4
You're drawing your conclusion based on the assumption that there is a group of people you would categorize as "socialists" that support government regulation for everything. This is a very naive assumption as political positions are not black and white two sided arguements.

There are more than two sides to all but the simplest issues.


RE: Govern Reg's...
By Smilin on 6/16/2010 12:19:45 PM , Rating: 1
They suck. If regulation makes them better, awesome. If regulation makes them exit this market, awesome.

It's funny that their competitors are doing fine under regulation.


False atribution....
By frankinla on 6/16/2010 12:05:55 PM , Rating: 2
I had ATT dsl installed 18 months ago when I dumped cable. At that time I asked the installer if U-Verse was every gonna make it to my block. His reply:

ATT "where not going to be extending into new areas due to the economy... they were finishing expansions that were underway, but that was it until things turned around..."

That was 18 months ago. Now, when they want to whip up the tea bag crowd they say it's the new proposed regs!!

I call BS




Too flaky...
By rob8129 on 6/16/2010 1:23:23 PM , Rating: 2
My In-laws have had U-verse for a while now and they have had all kinds of issues with the tv boxes. They have 2 TVs and have gone through 5 or 6 boxes already. Then they got a second HD TV and found out that you can only watch 1 HD channel at a time no matter how many TVs try to access an HD channel. Also, I still think the picture quality is sub par in either SD or HD. I have Comcast at my house, and say what you want, but the picture is much better and the service itself has been rock solid over the years. I really don't mind spending extra for Comcast vs. U-verse based on my personal experience with both systems. Now, if Verizon FIOS ever gets to my neighborhood... ;)




By jah1subs on 6/16/2010 5:23:23 PM , Rating: 2
I live about 10,000 feet straight line from the local CO. However, according to AT&T support I am actually 20,000 feet the way the wires are routed in this suburb.

The result is that my DSL service is limited to 384kbps downstream, not even the lowest 768 speed that is available!

At this low a speed, I cannot send invites from Outlook through Gmail to other Outlook users. At this low a speed, I cannot leave the laptop alone for very long. It puts itself into a lower energy state (Intel T4200) and the Power-On button needs to be pressed to bring it back to life. On the other hand, I had a Sprint 3G (actually 3G/4G) cellular modem on this for several months first and had no problems like this with using Outlook or the laptop powering itself down.

AT&T has almost lost me even though I still prefer landline to other connections for voice.




Oh please
By TechIsGr8 on 6/16/10, Rating: -1
"Nowadays you can buy a CPU cheaper than the CPU fan." -- Unnamed AMD executive














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