New ISP Options in Lafayette = A Big Meh
AT&T’s U-verse heads our way. Here’s what it means for you.
AT&T’s offering known as U-verse is moving into Lafayette. U-verse has been a popular alternative to residential subscribers around the country and has been known to cripple its opponents’ market shares upon moving into new service areas. What does this look like to you? We’ll do a side-by-side comparison of your options for the area and break it down into a few categories. First, what is U-verse? AT&T uses Fiber to the Node which means it uses physical fiber optic cables to deliver to a central distribution point (node). A node will be responsible for serving many residences. The “last mile,” or service from the node to the residence, is then delivered over existing copper phone lines.
On the low end of the spectrum, the U-Family package gives the subscriber Total Home DVR, local stations and music stations. The package boasts up to 140 channels on up to eight screens in your home and up to four simultaneous recordings at once starting at $29/month. On the high end, AT&T offers the U450 package with up to 470 channels, premium movie channels and premium sports channels to add to the U-Family plan for $91/month.
With download speeds ranging from 3 Mbps ($14.95/month) to 45 Mbps ($29.95/month limited time offer), the Internet service is sufficient for most residential users. One of the downfalls to delivering over copper is the upload speeds suffer. According the DSLReports.com, AT&T customers get about 3 Mbps upload speeds on average.
We could not locate home phone service pricing on its own. It appears all home phone service is priced with the Internet service. For 200 minutes/month, you can pay $25/month or for unlimited nationwide calling, you can pay $35/month.
Bundles offer you the ability to purchase multiple services together to save money. The catch with these bundles are the contracts. The packages we were able to locate all come with a two-year contract. Attempting to disconnect your service before the contract is over will cost you an early termination fee. This fee is calculated based on how much remaining time is on your contract. Bundles begin at $89/month for U-Family TV, 6 Mbps Internet Service, and the 200 minutes/month phone service. The highest priced bundle is $161/month for U450 TV, 45 Mbps Internet Service, and the 200 minutes/month phone service. These are the standard rates offered across the country, but AT&T is offering some introductory rates for the new market. They can be viewed here. The question we have is how does it measure up to what we already have available here in Lafayette. Let’s do some comparisons:
Video is measured in channels. Prices reflect all or some premium movie channels being purchased if they were charged separately. All features and options have been added to the high-end services. There are some hidden gotchas. We mentioned earlier about contracts that do bring down the service cost but can be costly if you decide to terminate and switch to another provider. LUS is the only provider of the three that does not require a contract to get the prices reflected above. You can terminate your service at any time for any of the three services and they will just stop billing you.
The elephant in the room — customer service
When you need help from customer support for AT&T, your only option is a huge call center with entry level support personnel who are required to grill you with questions before escalating you to the next tier. All it takes is a Google search for “AT&T U-verse customer service reviews,” and it won’t take long to see people complaining about the customer service representatives. I’ll be honest, the irate customers seeking support aren’t necessarily upset about the service itself, just the way they were handled while trying to get support. The same search, but replaced with Cox yields a lot less results. This is fairly typical as they serve a much smaller market than AT&T, but the content of the grievances seem to center more around the service itself (mostly Internet). LUS Fiber of course produces no results on these searches because it is miniscule in market size compared to the other two. Personally, other than a couple of rather long hold times, I am usually able to get my LUS Fiber issue resolved and, if necessary, a service technician to the house in a decent and timely manner.
Bryan Fuselier is the CTO of Aristotle’s Alexander and co-founder of the Lafayette Developers Network. He has 20 years of experience in software development and systems/network infrastructure. His work has been utilized in energy, communications and financial business sectors.