Ten Reasons You Should Dump AT&T Broadband

Last update: April 22, 2014

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Over ninety percent of AT&T’s 11.3 million U-verse TV subscribers also pay for AT&T’s high-speed Internet services. While the U-Verse TV service is very good, their DSL service is bad. Read on to find out why.

Ten Reasons You Should Dump Your AT&T Broadband Service

1. You’ll Save Money for at Least a Year

Broadband speeds vary, but there is a good chance you’ll save money for a least a year when you switch broadband providers. That’s because you can take advantage of special introductory offers. By switching from AT&T’s Elite DSL to Time Warner’s Standard Internet, we are saving $10 a month. But that’s just the first of many reasons to switch.

Netflix ranks AT&T DSL speeds next to last place

Netflix ranks AT&T DSL speeds next to last place

2. DSL Speeds Are Slower than Cable

We paid AT&T extra for 6Mbps, but rarely saw speeds that high.

Cable modem download speeds are typically two times faster than DSL.That’s because DSL providers like AT&T cap speeds at 3Mbps. To get faster data rates, we decided to pay extra for AT&T’s 6Mbps Elite plan, but Speedtest tells us AT&T’s is slower than 75% U.S. broadband providers. They give AT&T a “D” grade during peak usage hours. Our data speeds weren’t always that low, they sometimes peaked around 5-6Mbps, but the data rate jumped around so much, the average was often lower. A recent government study found that AT&T only delivers 87% of the speed they advertise, while Cablevision, Comcast, Mediacom, Verizon and ViaSat all deliver speeds that are greater than advertised. Netflix also rates ISPs and unsurprisingly, AT&T DSL ranks near the bottom of their ratings shown above. U-verse also underperformed cable-based broadband from Time Warner and others..

A recent government study found that AT&T only delivers 87% of the speed they advertise

A recent government study found that AT&T only delivers 87% of the speed they advertise

3. AT&T Seems Unable to Provide Consistent Data Speeds

DSL speeds should be more constant than cable speeds, but we found the opposite to be true. In the beginning, AT&T delivered speeds close to 6Mbps most of the time, but over the past four years we’ve seen our average speed drop dramatically. As you can see from the chart on the right, we’re not getting near the amount of data we’re paying for. Worse yet, AT&T’s data speeds frequently drop to almost zero.

Notice how our download speeds used to vary from zero to 3 Mbps

We wanted to believe the problems we were seeing were caused by a defective piece of equipment, but we’ve had techs from AT&T in our house three different times. The AT&T techs replaced our home gateway, DVR, set top boxes, connectors, splitters and other hardware, but none of the changes fixed our problems.

The Wall Street Journal recently confirmed my assertion that AT&T delivers Internet speeds that are worse than advertised. In fact, they along with Verizon, are the worst offenders in this area.

4. AT&T’s Customer Support is Horrendous

AT&T has the worst phone support I’ve ever experienced. They hide the customer support phone number on their site and then make you jump through hoops to get it. The site asks: Which of these four customer types are you? What is your Zip code? What type of support do you need? Then you finally see a ‘Call Us’ button. Now you enter AT&T phone tree hell. “I see you’re calling from 858-731-5252,” says the computer voice. “Is this the phone number where the problem is occurring?” “No,” I say. “Please say the 10 digital account number on your bill?” I say “I don’t know it.” “What type of service do you have? says the computer voice.” I answer.

Be prepared to jump through hoops on their website before you’re given a customer support phone number

I spare you the rest of the poorly written script. Often you’re presented with options that don’t apply with the problems you’re having and there is no way to go back — without hanging up and calling back again. I’ve had AT&T’s customer support line hang up on me before as well. The bottom line is that it can easily take 15 to 20 minutes before you’re able to talk to someone. Some of the AT&T Tier 1 techs are clueless. Be prepared to be asked to power cycle your hardware — even though you tell them you already did this before you called. Several times their network has been so bad they weren’t able to even analyze my hardware. In the end they always end up rolling a truck anyway because there is rarely anything they can fix over the phone.

5. AT&T Has One of the Lowest Data Caps & Throttles Those Who Exceed It

If you stream a lot of video, you are very likely to have your data speeds limited by AT&T. Most cable companies have limits of around 250GB, which isn’t that easy to reach. AT&T throttles users after 150GB a month. Although that seems like a lot of data, it’s not. If you stream movies or TV shows, or have kids who love YouTube, your family could consume more than this amount of data. Verizon doesn’t impose any type of cap on its FiOS and DSL lines. Time Warner has no specific limits, but can respond to excessive usage.

6. AT&T’s Network Has More Latency Than Others

We live in a new home that is hundreds of feet from the central office, so the quality of our broadband connection should be great, but we see horrible latency often. Occasionally these delays make it seem like we have to wait 15 to 30 seconds before web pages update. I used a site called Pingtest.net to prove the quality of the AT&T network in my area is poor.

Pingtest gives AT&T a “D” grade for line quality

The ping measurement tells you how long it takes a “packet” of data to travel from your computer to a server on the Internet and back. Whenever you experience delayed responses in Internet applications this is due to a higher than desired ping. A ping below 100 ms is expected from any decent broadband connection. You’ll notice I sometimes see delays as high as 150ms. That’s why AT&T gets a “D” grade here as well. Again, these results vary. Sometimes I see faster ping times, but this result shows how serious AT&T’s problems can be.

7. AT&T Doesn’t Allow You to Purchase Your Own Equipment

AT&T provides their subscribers with a home gateway or cable modem. As far as I can tell they do not allow consumers to select their own hardware from a list and use it with AT&T services like Time Warner and other service providers do.

We decided to purchase our own cable modem

This policy limits your options. Time Warner supports cable modems from Arris, Motorola, Netgear, SA, SMC, Thomson, Ubee and ZyXel. We decided to purchase our own DOCSIS 3.0-ready cable modem from Motorola after reading a large number of reviews on Amazon. This prevented us from paying a monthly rental charge, and will give us access to much faster speeds if we decide to upgrade our service plan in the future.

8. You Don’t Need DSL to Keep U-Verse TV

For the past two years we’ve wanted to cancel our AT&T DSL, but were told by their phone support reps that we needed to keep our DSL in order to get AT&T U-Verse. It turns out this is completely untrue. I wish we would have figured this out earlier. It would have saved us much frustration.

9. AT&T Hardware Doesn’t Support Advanced Wireless Technologies

If you’re a U-verse customer, you must use AT&T’s home gateway. The 2-Wire gateway that we were provided with has a built-in wireless router that doesn’t reach some of the rooms in our house. It also doesn’t support provide 5GHz 802.11 wireless support which is supported by our iPads and Samsung smartphones. This allows us to use a network that is much less congested than the normal 2.4GHz network all of our neighbors use. More info. The AT&T home gateway also doesn’t support advanced wireless features like 802.11n or wireless bonding (which increases data speeds).

After switching we saw our speeds go up dramatically

After switching we saw our speeds go up dramatically

10. The AT&T U-Verse Home Gateway Limits the Quality of Third-party VOIP-based Phone Systems

In order to get the best quality with VOIP-based phone systems like Ooma or Vonage, you must connect directly to a broadband modem or to a router that can prioritize voice over data. The home gateway which AT&T provides only allows this when you pay extra for AT&T’s VOIP service. Even without changing the settings on our router, our Ooma phone system already sounds better because it’s not starved for data all of the time.

Was It Worth Switching?

It’s been well over a year since we cut the AT&T DSL cord. Was it worth it? YES! Switching was fast and easy and saved us $120 in the first year.

After switching to cable modem, we saw our speeds go way up and all of our problems go away. Here are some more details:

  • Our download speeds increased more than 800% to over 16Mbps over Wi-Fi. Our download speeds over Ethernet are up to 27Mbps — even though we only pay for a Standard plan that is supposed to cap out at 15Mbps.
  • Our upload speeds now range from 1 to 3 Mbps.
  • Our latency decreased 80% from 150ms to 21ms.
  • Our data speeds are much more consistent and rarely jump around the way they used to.
  • We’ve seen a dramatic improvement in the quality of our OOMA VOIP telephone service.
  • Our cable service has been very reliable. We’ve experienced only a few hours of downtime over the past 18 months.
  • It’s Time For You to Switch

    You owe it to yourself to investigate the alternatives to AT&T in your area. There’s a good chance you’ll save money and end up with faster data speeds. In less than a week you can switch. Installation is often free, and only takes about an hour. There is no configuration you have to do on your end. Just connect the cable from the new modem to your wireless router, and you’ll be enjoying faster speeds in minutes. Of course your mileage may vary, you might want to check with others in your area to see what their speeds are before making a change. In our case, switching was a smart thing to do.

    – Rick

    Note: This article isn’t intended to be a plug for Time Warner Cable. They are used for comparison purposes, because they are the only cable provider in our area. Make sure you look into all options in your area – including fibre-based broadband solutions like Google Fiber and Verizon’s FiOS.

    Copyright 2013 Rick Schwartz. All rights reserved. Linking to this article is encouraged.

    Follow me on Twitter @mostlytech1

    Ooma Telo is the One of The Best Land Line Replacements

    If you’re still paying for local phone service, it’s time to switch to an Internet-based phone system. Over half of Americans no longer use a land line, according to government data. Internet-based phone systems let you to make long distance calls for a fraction of the cost of a traditional landline. In some cases, there is no monthly charge whatsoever. There are quite a few different companies offering voice over IP (VoIP) phone solutions, so it’s important you do some research before buying.

    What The Experts Say

    Speaking of research, I came across this blog post which compares most popular VoIP systems. After reading this, I decided Ooma was on my short list of products to consider. This wasn’t the first I’d heard about Ooma. I first heard about the Ooma Telo at Best Buy’s corporate headquarters. One of their senior technical managers told me he was using Ooma at home and recommended it highly. I also noticed Consumer Reports ranked Ooma as the #1 phone service. In their study, Ooma beat Skype, Verizon FIOS, Vonage, Cox, U-verse and all other VoIP services. These two recommendations were all I needed to take the plunge and purchase an Ooma Telo.

    How Much Will You Save?

    Phone rates vary. I was paying about $45 a month for my landline. The Ooma website has a nice little calculator, which estimates how much you will save using Ooma. In my case, the savings were considerable. I’ll save at least $1245 dollars over a three year period. Also, my Ooma hardware will pay for itself after only 5 months, not 7 months as the chart shows. That’s because I paid only $180 after tax and shipping.

    Ooma Pros

    This is a partial list of the advantages Ooma has over a conventional landline and other VoIP systems.

    • Unlimited free local and long distance anywhere in the U.S. Save hundreds of dollars a year over the cost of a conventional landline
    • Ooma Telo Handset

      • Does not require a computer like magicJack or Skype. This results in extra savings because your computer does not need to be left on
      • Better voice-quality than Skype, magicJack or any mobile phone
      • You can use your existing wired or wireless phones with it
      • Cheaper than Vonage – Even with the hardware cost and the optional $10 a month Premier Plan, Ooma is still often cheaper than Vonage for a year of service
      • Setup is easy and only takes about 10 minutes
      • Has an built-in answering machine for voice-mail. Caller ID, voice mail, call waiting are all free
      • Doesn’t have the annoying delays that VoIP systems like Skype sometimes have
      • Has a wide range of features and accessories, including a wireless handset, wireless adapter, Bluetooth adapter and a mobile HD app


      How Good is the Sound Quality?

      If you use Ooma with a good DECT 6.0 wireless phone, it sounds much better than Skype, magicJack or any mobile phone. It would probably sound even better, if the 2-Wire Gateway provided with AT&T’s U-verse service allowed me to give Ooma priority. Even with Ooma sharing bandwidth with everything else on my crowded network, I never get any echos or delays. Is it perfect? No. Occasionally, I hear other artifacts and small dropouts, but they aren’t very obvious and normally go away after a few seconds. I also bought their Ooma Telo handset because I heard it had even better sound quality, but it sounds a lot like my Panasonic phone. Since I’m signed up for their Premium package, I can have two different conversations going on at once. I have noticed the sound quality does drop when I do this, but it’s still acceptable.

      Ooma Cons

        No system is perfect. Here are some of the negatives of the Ooma Telo system.
      • Higher initial cost than most other VoIP systems ($179 currently)
      • Ooma is not entirely free. You still have to pay monthly taxes of $3 to $4
      • Some cable-based phone systems have slightly better voice-quality than VOIP systems.
      • Ooma does occasionally have short drop outs in sound. You hear these most often when you're listening to your messages.A loud click occurs when the Ooma answering machine starts recording
      • International calling costs an additional $9.95 a month for 1000 minutes. Right now, you can call Canada is free3-way calling and some other optional features cost an extra $10 a month
      • Not as good for travel as magicJack or Skype, because it requires a 5.5” x 7.5” box


      Ooma is not entirely free. There is a small monthly fee.

      Activating Your Ooma Telo

        Setting up an Ooma system takes about 10 minutes. First you go online to Ooma.com/activate.
      • Next, type in the activation code found on the back of the Ooma Telo box.
      • Then enter the area code for your new Ooma phone number. It doesn't have to be the same as your old area code. If you want to keep your old phone number, you must pay a one-time $40 fee which  is waived if you subscribe to Ooma Premier.
      • Now enter your contact info and address. This is used for 911 services.
      • Next, enter your billing information. This is used to pay your monthly taxes and any upgrades you decide to add.
      • Finally, select a password and answer a security question.


      Setting up an Ooma Telo is easy

      System Setup

        Once you’re activated, you’re only three steps away from making a phone call:
      • Connect your Ooma Telo box to your cable modem, DSL modem or home gateway. Although it’s best to connect your Ooma box between your modem and router, it works fine if you connect it to an integrated modem/router.
      • Connect your corded or cordless phone to the Ooma box.
      • Power up the Ooma Telo and wait for it to update its software. This took 5-10 minutes on the first Ooma box I installed and was not required on the second one.

      That’s it! Now you’re ready to make free local and long distance calls. When you turn on your phone you should hear Ooma’s special dial tone.

      Is Ooma Right for Everyone?

      No. Ooma is a good system but it’s not right for everyone. VoIP-based phone services are not ideal for:

      • People who can’t lose phone service when their power or Internet is down
      • People with alarm systems that communicate via landline. Ooma recommends you maintain a basic landline  for the purposes of your alarm system, or move to a cellular-based alarm panel
      • Someone who doesn’t want to have their Ooma answering machine in the same room as their modem or router. Installing a Ooma Wireless Adapter or HomePlug network addresses this problem
      • Those with wireless phone systems where the base station can’t be moved near the Ooma phone box
      • Those without a high-speed Internet connection (like all other VoIP systems except cable)


      Scare Tactics

      Porting your phone number can be a little intimidating for DSL users.

      • They say you need to contact your broadband provider and request a dry loop DSL
      • They also warn there could be cancellation charges. No one I know has been charged for this
      • They also say it could take up to two weeks to port your number. In my case, it took about 4 days
      • They also warn your broadband or TV service could go down if the the port isn’t done correctly. We didn’t lose service.
      • They also say you must call your phone company after the number port to cancel your service

      I’ve done two separate number ports so far, and had no problems with any of the things listed above. Both were in homes with DSL and an IP-based TV system (e.g. AT&T U-verse). The only thing that you should be aware of,  is the fact your communications bundle pricing could go up if you got a discount for bundled phone service before. Normally this will be about $10.

      Ooma Extras

      Ooma charges $10 extra a month for their Premiere features. The Premiere package has so many features, I can’t go into them all here. I listed a few highlights below. You can read about the rest here.

      • Instant Second Line  – Allows you to make or take two simultaneous calls from a single phone number
      • Blacklists – Help you block telemarketers. This is one of my favorite features and the main reason I spent the extra $10
      • Multi-ring – Lets you answer calls from your home phone or cell phone
      • Message Screening – Allows you to listen-in as the caller leaves their message
      • Send to Voicemail – Allows you to transfer a call to your voicemail
      • Voicemail Forwarding – Lets you forward voicemail, so that you can listen to it from your favorite email program
      • Do Not Disturb – Allows you to roll your calls into voicemail without ringing your phone
      • Personal Numbers – Allows you to select additional phone numbers in any calling area in the U.S.



      I’ve been using Ooma now for about six months and have no major complaints so far. My only gripe so far is the loud click the person calling you hears when you pick up the phone (or the answering machine starts recording). No one in my family has said much about the switch so far, which is good news. I love the ability to blacklist telemarketers, and have it setup so they hear a disconnected number message when they call. The bottom line is, Ooma Telo a good replacement for your landline and the savings are substantial.

      – Rick

      Copyright 2011 Rick Schwartz. All rights reserved. Linking to this article is encouraged.

      Follow me on Twitter @mostlytech1