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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Beware ATT Digital Voice Overage Charges for Local Calls

This is more a note to myself about the mistake I made but also can serve as a warning to anyone considering switching to ATT uVerse and going with their Digital Voice ( VOIP) home phone service.

When I switched from regular att landline local phone service, I forget one important thing. I use dialup internet. Let me explain. I have 1 laptop computer that will not work with any wireless adapters. It previously did, but for whatever reason I can no longer get it to work with anything. I have tried it all- usb adapters, the ones that sit on a desk and have antennas, regular cards,etc. OK, that isn't that important. It's just important to know that I use dialup internet, even with high speed internet in my home. Am I weird? Maybe. The thing is I use this laptop at night when I am in my bedroom before I go to sleep. Often this can be a couple hours a day. Or around 3000 minutes a month.

This has never been an issue before because I have never paid EXTRA for local phone calls. The problem? When ATT was trying to "save" me money they asked if I used the home phone a lot and what features I used. I wasn't really thinking so I said I rarely used the phone ( I never use it to call anyone). So they saved me $10 a month by signing me up for Digital Voice 1000. As the name implied, this only includes 1000 total minutes of monthly calling. I used that in the first 4 days. Fortunately I caught my error and switched right away to the Unlimited calling plan. However, It took them over a week to make the change. I was left with a prorated month that was unlimited and 20 days of only 667 minutes allowed. As a result I am paying over $100 EXTRA for local phone calling last month.

With the unlimited Digital I am now paying almost exactly what I did before I switched. So I went from saving money with my bundle to basically paying the same or a little more. It is OK since my internet is much faster. However it is not quite the good deal that I first thought.

Most traditional local phone services as well as Broadband VOIP phone services include unlimited local calling. Some of the new plans rolling out DO NOT. Keep this in mind when you consider switching to save money.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Followup on ATT Uverse Installation

I posted previously about having AT&T UVerse installed in my home. I just wanted to followup with more details on the installation process and the home phone service I chose. My package also includes high speed internet and TV aka a triple play phone internet tv bundle. So that certainly adds to the installation time and involvement.

At&t warns that the installation is expected to take 4-6 hours. This is true. My installation took around 4.5 hours. Local cable companies here like Time Warner run commercials criticizing how long it takes ATT to install. My thought is it does take a long time but it is worth it. As long as your house is wired correctly ( my cable company seemed to have done an interesting job running the cable through the basement) and the fiber optics cabinets are close enough to your home, it is not that complicated.

After the installer determines where the phone and cable lines run, he will hookup what they call their Residential Gateway. This is a box that is a combination modem/router, replacing 2 devices in my case. The cable and the phone line connect to this device. When plugged into a working cable jack this enables IP phone for the house. In my case I also had ethernet run to 1 PC and my other PCs are connected wirelessly.

The phone and internet were on and working at that point. On my wired PC I just broughtup Internet Explorer and was prompted to register with ATT. On my wireless internet connections, I simply connected as normal. Meaning I found the wireless network in range and entered the WEP to connect.

One of the things that takes the longest is getting the IP TV service connected and working. Of course this is probably the least involved thing as it's mostly about hooking up the cable box receiver and plugging it in. But since it is all on ip streams, it takes awhile for the box to download? the service. After the Motorola receivers were plugged in they would say something like "downloading service, 36 minutes left." All my TVs were already hooked up to cable and this just used the existing wiring to the new U-verse receivers.

As far as the home phone service, as I stated before my needs are minimal. I just need a working phone line for light usuage. I got the 1000 minute plan, but there is also an unlimited ATT phone service for 10 dollars more per month.

The TV service works great and is much clearer. The only slightly disappointing thing is losing some channels. You gain some but you also losing some depending on your current service. Now, I COULD have gotten a higher level programming package.

Friday, August 1, 2008

I got AT&T U-Verse Installed in my Home

I just got Uverse installed. I went with a Phone/IP TV/ Internet triple play bundle. I have uVerse voice 100 for my local home phone service, "Elite" High Speed internet 6 Mbps, and U100 for my TV.

My previous setup was traditional AT&T landline home phone with my own discount long distance carrier at 2.9 cpm. The new ATT phone deal includes 1000 local and long distance per month. Since it doesn't distinguish between local and long distance toll calls, I will no longer need my own long distance service. I don't use the home phone enough to need more than 1000 minutes a month total.

For internet I went from 4Mbps from a cable company to Uverses 6Mbps. They installed a residential gateway which serves as a combined modem and router, so I no longer need the modem and router than I own. Their gateway comes with the service and includes a battery backup system. The cable company required me to provide my own modem and networking or rent a modem from them.

I only had basic cable through the phone company. And by basic, I mean basic analog, not even digital. I also only used 1 box for my 3 TVs because I didnt want to pay extra for extra boxes and remotes.I now have 3 uVerse Motorola receivers. There was a $5 charge for the 2nd and 3rd boxes. However, my total cost for the entire bundle is basically the same as I was paying before. The Uverse 100 in the lowest cost package, but I did not need anything great as I only had basic cable that ran from channel 2 through 72. My cable company was going to discontinue this package at the end of the year and raise my bill $14 anyway.

I will actually have more to post including my review of the installation service and quality I have experienced so far. Thanks.

Friday, April 18, 2008

AT&T Home Phone Service Review

So after my initial rant about my Charter service, I've ventured out and questioned a few friends of mine on what they think about their service. I've gotten a few who answer with "I have no need for home phone service." Which is due to the current cell phone rage replacing some peoples need for a home phone. One of my friends that does have a home phone, got AT&T service a few months ago, when they were lucky enough to switch their cable, Internet, and phone from Charter service.

I have AT&T cell phones, but hadn't heard of AT&T U-Verse until my friend informed me that they were having it installed. I looked up some numbers, and it seems AT&T only charges about 28 bucks a month for their basic phone service, and my friend said the service is top notch compared to the Charter nightmare. The service hasn't been out, and he hasn't experience any interference when talking. I'm sure some of you may have more advanced needs than just the basic service, and if you have an experience with AT&T's more advanced phone features, please feel free to share them here, but from what I can tell, their service is good, and if you have a choice at all in your area, choose AT&T phone service before even considering Charter!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Welcome to

Welcome to my new blog. I was inspired to make this site, basically because I'm stuck with Charter phone service (sadly cable, and Internet service also,) and wow, I never even knew a service could be so bad. So I figured, there needs to be a place people can come scope these services out before getting stuck in a contract with them. When I first moved into this house a year and a half ago, Charter was the only cable service in town, so by default, they got my business. Not long after, it was evident we were in for some bad service. Namely the phone service is just as reliable as the Internet service, which means ANY time it rains, occasionally when its windy, or even SOMEtimes for no reason at all, we either get a horrible reception, or get no service at ALL, and miss calls for days without even knowing the service was out. Calling their customer service is a nightmare, as you usually are calling a foreign country, and we all know how that is. And if you do get someone to come out and help, they'll usually say the guy that installed something before, did it all wrong, but in the end you'll STILL have problems. So basically I'm going to ask around and hear from some readers here, and take a look at what's out there for phone service, and hopefully get a good idea of who the top companies are, and spread the word about the best deals, so no one gets stuck with Charter or any company that operates similarly!