AT&T Uverse is an Internet Protocol (IP) based communication and entertainment platform, which delivers television and voice services over a high speed internet connection. Uverse is AT&T’s answer to Verizon’s FiOS services. While Verizon delivers their services over a fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) connection, AT&T is currently delivering Uverse over a combination of fiber-to-the-node (FTTN) and FTTP connections, with the option of upgrading all customers to FTTP in the future as bandwidth requirements rise. Uverse offers lower connection speeds than Verizon’s FiOS, but provides a larger array of services for a significantly lower price. Since AT&T is using a combination of existing copper wire services and fiber optics, they should be able to expand their services more quickly, and take advantage of existing infrastructure.
AT&T U-verse TV
AT&T Uverse TV provides 100% digital video and audio, in both Standard Definition (SD) and High Definition (HD), over a high speed internet connection. You can expect a channel lineup that is comparable to offerings from local cable and satellite companies including local channels. The packages start at $49/month, and are highly customizable. All of the receivers used by AT&T for Uverse are HD-ready, and there are over 100 HD channels already available, including premium HD channels. There are no contracts required for AT&T Uverse, and there is no additional charge for the professional installation, which may take up to 6 hours due to its complexity. You can even have your home theater system installed by AT&T ConnecTech (for an additional charge) to save you the hassle when you buy new equipment or move.
AT&T U-verse Total Home DVR
The AT&T Uverse Total Home Digital Video Recorder (DVR) has some of the most advanced capabilities of any DVR offered via a service provider. While most other cable and satellite DVRs can record two shows simultaneously, the Total Home DVR can record 4 shows at once, and you can play them from any U-Verse connected television in your home($7/mo equipment lease for each TV). This eliminates the need for more than one DVR if you have multiple heavy DVR users in the house. You can also connect to your DVR from any computer with an internet connection to schedule recordings and delete existing recordings. Some AT&T cellular phones can also connect to the DVR to schedule and delete recordings as well. The Total Home DVR also allows you to view the schedule and select items to record up to 14 days in advance while most other DVRs only allow you to view 7 days of advanced scheduling. Aside from TiVO, this is one of the most advanced DVRs available.
AT&T Uverse Voice
AT&T Uverse Voice provides all of the features you would expect from a Voice Over IP (VoIP) telephone service. In addition to supporting number portability, AT&T U-Verse Voice provides the following features:
- Call Waiting
- Call Forwarding
- 3-Way Calling
- Caller ID
- Call Waiting ID
- Selective Call Acceptance
- Exclusive Call Forwarding
- Call Rejection
- Anonymous Call Rejection
- Caller ID Block and Per Call Block
- 911 Service
ATT Uverse also provides the following advanced features at no additional charge:
- Do Not Disturb
- Locate Me: Rings multiple numbers to find you if you are not at home, and the messaging services also send email and text messages.
- Web Access Call Logs
- Click to Call and Call History on TV
- Fax/Modem Support: Supports fax machines
- Safe Call Forwarding: Delivers messages to alternative numbers in the event of a power outage.
- Unified Messaging: Integrates voicemail from both home phone and AT&T Cordless phone
- Battery Backup: Helps to keep the phone service working for a short time during a power outage
There is no installation charge when you install Uverse Voice with the rest of your package, and there is no contract term. AT&T offers an unlimited package at $30/month and a 250 minute package for $25. You can also add a second line to either package for $15/month. This is much more affordable than competitive services, and only costs slightly more than Vonage.
The most interesting feature of AT&T Uverse Voice is its ability to work with home alarm systems like Brinks. Brinks and AT&T have done extensive testing, and they have determined that Uverse Voice can be used as a primary means of transmitting alarm signals. This will save you the trouble of paying for an additional land line just for your security system.
AT&T Uverse Internet
AT&T Uverse is not as fast as Verizon’s FiOS FTTP internet service, but there are packages that are faster than many cable providers. Uverse provides speeds of up to 18Mbps downstream and 1.5Mbps upstream, which is faster in both directions than what the vast majority of cable companies provide to residential customers. There are slower packages, but ultimately you will save money when you bundle the services, so it is still worth the time to investigate purchasing the higher speed tiers.
AT&T Uverse has an enormous amount of potential, and it is priced conservatively compared to the packages from Time Warner and Comcast. Verizon’s FiOS may provide much higher speeds and some additional features, but the price can be prohibitive. For now AT&T Uverse poses a larger threat to the cable companies, because it can roll out services using existing infrastructure, and it can expand more quickly than FiOS for that same reason. By rolling out these services using existing infrastructure, AT&T will be able to help fund their future move to FTTP services, which I think is their ultimate goal. If you are already an AT&T cellular customer, there are obvious benefits for subscribing to Uverse, and it may save you even more money on all of your services. AT&T also had the presence of mind to offer a rebate on some packages, which will help offset the cost of breaking a contract with its competitors. AT&T has ultimately done a very good job of turning up the heat for the competing cable providers, and the consumer will reap the benefits.