Non satellite cable providers

Is U-Verse a cable or satellite provider?
July 10, 2016 – 12:15 pm

U-Verse is closer to "cable" than satellite - it is geographically limited to locations where AT&T has fiber networks built out (because all but the last 3000' is all fiber). Sat providers only require a clear view of the satellite from your property.

However, UNLIKE cable, U-Verse service is IP-based multicast, which means the TV channels are data streams, and your circuit only receives the 'channels' you are currently watching or recording, NOT the sum total of the programming available that you can then 'tune'. Because it is multicast, watching the same channel on two different TV's does not double the bandwidth requirement - it is only split at the gateway across the customer's 'house network'. However, DVR recordings in progress will take up a channel, which sometimes confuses people.

Now, when considering Video On Demand, cable and IPTV behave pretty similarly - the subscriber orders a movie and it is streamed only to that customer/device. They can pause playback and resume on a different device if they wish, but it's only streamed to one system at a time. This stream is unicast, not multicast, so multiple people in the house watching movies on different sets can make the service hiccup (the data isn't shared even tho' it might be the same movie, because Unicast).

Some of the problems with IPTV do make installation... ehm... tricky. The underlying connection is either fiber to the premise, or short-hop copper VDSL of at least 20Mbps, to support the streaming TV service. If a customer wants HD service, the line has to support at least 30Mbps, and on up to 50 Mbps if they want multiple (simultaneous) HD streams. This is JUST for the TV, the internet access is "whatever's left over" at a lower priority, usually configured at whatever speed tier the customer has specified (6Mbps to 18Mbps). Because the VDSL needs to maintain sync at such high speeds, there can be zero issues with the copper loop between house and the fiber bridge. This includes inside wiring, because the gateway device is plugged into a standard phone jack. So the installer needs to know what to look for when doing the install, and call for Install/Repair to solve any loop issues, or the customer will be left with shoddy service that they will likely have to call in on.

DISCLAIMER: I work for AT&T, supporting U-Verse at the server end. I don't deal with the network portion, nor do I support customers directly. But, one has to know how the system works, in order to figure out what's broken by the symptoms exhibited. I do apologize for having to deal with first-tier techs. I hate calling in for support as much as you do (and yes, even employees have to use the same support line as the customers!) However, IF you get a survey request following an install or service visit, use it to voice any concerns or kudos. It may not seem like it, but AT&T leadership does pay attention to these things, and I have seen cases where comments on a survey prompted a no-charge repair truck roll, with a manager riding shotgun to talk to the customer and make sure the tech had everything they needed to do things right.

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