Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Hey AT&T, Teach Your Technicians! My "Broadband" Experience

I run a technology company -- and have been in the technology business for years -- yet have had no real broadband available to me at home since I have moved into Rancho Santa Fe, California 18 months ago. I have AT&T DSL -- and DSL only. No cable. No other highspeed broadband options. And it has killed me! My down stream broadband is a meager 2.35 Mbps -- at best! That means that we are completely paralyzed here at home when we try to stream movies from Netflix (when we can stream at all!). Streaming music? Uploading pics to Shutterfly? Fuggedhubout it! No one else can be online.

Even worse, every time it rains (yes, contrary to popular belief, it does rain in SoCal), my DSL either comes to a complete stand-still or doesn't work at all. Case in point -- last Xmas time, and after some big rains, we had no DSL service at all for over 2 weeks! No Internet connectivity -- or phone service -- that entire time. And, AT&T simply said it was experiencing "unprecedented" demand and could not come to fix things any earlier.

Ultimately, did the AT&T techs really "fix" things for us? Yes, we got back online (at our snail's pace DSL speeds), but we continued to have outages. Things got so bad that I continue to pay $80 per month to have my Verizon broadband card back-up when necessary -- which is frequently necessary.

SO, imagine my surprise when I first learned -- last week -- that AT&T may have U-verse highspeed broadband service available in my 'hood. I was skeptical, but sure enough -- AT&T's website indicates that it is, in fact, available -- at a flavor of "up to 12 Mbps."

Did an AT&T technician ever tell us about this? Of course not (despite the fact that we have had at least 6 techs come to our home over the past year). Did we receive any marketing materials about this from AT&T? Of course not. This is the one time they chose NOT to spam us. Rather, I learned of this apparent fact simply by joining the broadband committee of my community -- at which all of us on the committee were completely shocked.

So, what did I do? I immediately went to AT&T's website and signed up for U-verse highspeed broadband. For some reason, the full U-verse package is not available to me (no TV, or digital phone). Nor are the highest speed packages -- my highest available package is "Max" (up to 12 Mbps -- which, according to AT&T's website, is not optimal for movie streaming, downloading, or Skype videoconferencing -- which are all important activities for me). That sounds ominous ... very ominous .... Yet, if I get even close to 12 Mbps, it should -- with emphasis on "should" -- be much, much better than my current 2 Mbps. Perhaps at least all of us at home can be online at the same time.

Color me skeptical -- highly skeptical. Nonetheless I am hopeful. I have been instructed by AT&T's highly personal email that I will be able to make the switch to this new U-verse package on December 19th -- after 8 pm.

Fingers crossed.

I will report back.