AT&T U-Verse Compared to Comcast

UPDATE: Read my updated impressions after four months of U-Verse service.

On Tuesday of this week I had AT&T U-Verse installed at my house. Previously we had Comcast, which I was not happy with, for most of the usual reasons and a few unusual ones*.

I’m incredibly happy with U-Verse so far. Let me tell you about it, and then I’ll do a little comparison to Comcast.

First of all, they call it installation** for a reason. The installer was at my house for about four hours. He had to run new phone line to the house, then route it to where the main receiver was going to be (in our living room). Later he had to replace a run of coaxial cable in my house that was dropping too much signal.

This was a pretty pleasant experience except that the installer was late. He was supposed to show up between 9 and 11; he arrived just before noon. They called and let me know he was running late, but that still sucked. Considering that he didn’t leave until 4, that was my whole work day lost for this install. Like I said though, the installation itself was pleasant. Guy was nice, he wore his little blue booties to keep my floor clean, and he did a good job.

So, what about the service itself? First of all, let me outline the cost. My monthly bill should be $138 (we’ll see after taxes and random “service fees” what it really is), and that gets me 6 MB internet, U200 TV (comparable to the most common service level of cable – expanded basic?), HD, DVR, and two additional TV receivers. That’s not promotional pricing. Now, here’s what I like about it. The internet connection is fast (I got the 6 MB connection speed) and the built-in wireless router, so far, works great. Plus I was able to login to it and change the wireless network’s name and password. The TV is fantastic. HD channels come in clear, no artifacting, and looks as uncompressed as anything I’ve seen (although I’m sure they’re compressed). The on-screen interface is much cleaner than Comcast’s. The organization of it, the look of it, the anti-aliased fonts – it’s really nice. The feature set is impressive – being able to watch a recorded show in one room, pause it, and then resume in another works as advertized (doesn’t work with live TV, though). All the connected TVs have access to recorded shows and can schedule recordings. One thing I found particularly impressive was that even if the show recorded is in HD, you can still watch it on a SD television.

But after just a few days I would say my favorite aspect of the service is the speed. Channel switching is near instantaneous. There is no lag between hitting “Menu” on the remote and the menu appearing onscreen. Hitting the “Forward” button while watching a recorded show instantly jumps forward 30 seconds. I had grown accustomed to Comcast and the second or so delay that comes with most actions, but after using U-Verse for less than a week I would definitely not want to go back.

Finally, I’ve got just a few notes about some minor differences between U-Verse’s features and Comcast’s. U- Verse’s search feature is a lot better than Comcast’s; that is to say, it works. If you wanted to schedule an HD recording on Comcast you couldn’t do it through search because it would only find the SD airings of the show. If you were trying to record a show in HD airing in five days, that left you to either scroll through five days of programming in the guide or just try to remember to set the recording the day of. U-Verse lists both airings and let’s you pick which one you want. Comcast also failed to find a lot of shows. U-Verse doesn’t have that problem. On Comcast you could create multiple favorite channel lists (for example, “Ashley” and “Jacob”). You only get one favorite channel list on U-Verse. Not a big deal in my case because I always used Ashley’s favorite list anyway – she’s got better taste. One thing about the favorites list – each TV gets its own favorites. At first I thought this was a bad decision (why should I have to mark TNT as a favorite on each TV?), but then I realized that it avoided the problem of having HD favorites listed on your SD TVs. So probably a good decision by AT&T. One other area where I prefer Comcast’s implementation is the picture-in-picture guide browsing. Comcast tries to always keep what you’re currently watching on screen somewhere, while U-Verse is always trying to show you what you could be watching. When browsing the guide, Comcast would put the current channel into a little box at the top right of the screen. It was small, but you still got the whole image. U-Verse overlays the whole screen with the guide and makes it slightly transparent. Because it’s transparent you can still sort of tell what’s going on, but it’s like peering through your fingers. Like I mentioned, U-Verse shows you little thumbnail picture-in-picture views of the channels you’re browsing. Ashley really likes this feature, I don’t see much value in it. I’d rather not lose what I’m currently watching than preview what I might start watching.

There’s actually a lot I didn’t cover here, like the interactive extras, scheduling programs online, and the iPhone app (which from my limited use seems to get the job done but is badly designed and really ugly). Once I get some more time with those I may post a follow-up. But the bottom line is, I would recommend U-Verse to anyone that is currently with Comcast. It’s the better service.

*The usual reasons being poor service, poor signal quality (a lot of artifacting and eternal “Please wait a few moments for this signal”), unexplained fees, etc. The unusual reasons may be slightly unfair, but still bothered me. When Comcast made the switch to using an all-digital signal they needed to give out converter boxes for those still using analog TVs. The way this should have worked is that you went online or called and told them how many you needed (first two free, more than that with a small one-time fee), and they sent them to you. You connected them and Boom! TV is working. Instead they used it as an opportunity to tighten the screws, to get even more control over their customers and wring more money out of them. It really pissed me off. You had to go to the Comcast location to get the boxes. They charged you a MONTHLY fee for additional boxes over just one. And then these boxes required “activation” before they would work. Activation was a total pain in the ass, and all it was was a way for Comcast to check that they were screwing you over as thoroughly as they had planned.

**How U-Verse works. I only know what I was able to glean from our installer and the particular setup in my house, but this is my understanding. AT&T has to have a connection point to their fiber-optic backbone nearby. They are currently building this out, that’s why they make you check your address to see if they can install U-Verse. My installer said that I was 3,000 feet away and at that distance I was right on the cusp of not being able to get service. From that backbone node to the house the wiring is phone line. Inside the house they run phone line to their network hub device. This is a sleek little box that serves as your wireless router (if you get Internet service), Ethernet router, and handles requests from all the TV “nodes” on your network. It uses the coaxial cable in your house as it’s means of communication to the receiver connected to each TV. Because the system needs clear coax to work, my Comcast connection was disconnected. I had thought the two systems would
coexist, but this was not the case. So when you turn on a TV, that TV’s receiver sends the request over coax to the network hub, the network hub requests over phone line to the AT&T backbone connection (somewhere in your neighborhood), and that request goes over fiber optics back to wherever this contents actually coming from (some data center in Tennessee or something).

***I typed this entire post on my iPhone. Yep. Took me about two hours.


30 thoughts on “AT&T U-Verse Compared to Comcast

  1. I know the regular (Non HD Comcast ) comcast is not very good at all ,but the HD box with a DVR is way awesome , super fast and if you have the Phone service as well and if someone calls while watching TV then there number comes up on the TV .

  2. Glad you like the service, but a lot of what you are saying is just not true. I have Comcast and that price is more that what I pay. Uverse is cool untill you have a home with multiple tv’s using HD. I tried for a few weeks and went back to Comcast. I had to many issues. Also if you are use to having seperate DVR’s on your tv’s then you will hate the whole house DVR. You can only pause live tv on one tv. So if you are watching something in a room that the one DVR is not in, you can’t pause or rewind what you are watching. Att’s on demand also so sucks compared to Comcast. They want to charge you to watch just about everything on it.

  3. What about recording shows? I read another review that said the default setting is to stop and start 1 minute before/after shows, and you can only record 2 HD shows at once. But if you have 1 show ending and 2 others starting right after, those could conflict because of the 1 minute overlap each way, if they’re HD at least. How does the use of internet and phone coincide with the cable service?

  4. Wow! Thanks for the really thorough and detailed write up — your post has saved me hours of randomly searching for easy to read, unbiased reviews of uVerse vs Comcast. I am calling AT&T right now to switch from Comcast — who I’ve been paying waaaaay too much money to for the crap product I’ve been getting. Thanks again!

  5. Thank you so much for your informative post. Wow, I bet it did take you a whie to type all that out on your phone. I actually signed upfor AT&T (internet and TV) today and will soon be discarding Comcast. I just can’t get over Comcast’s outragious prices. I hope I am as satisfied as you.

  6. I am very nervous about switching. We have someone coming in about 10 days to go from Comcast to ATT. I really hate paying that much and would like to save some money. We switched once to dish and it was horrible. We switched back in a month. ATT sounds awesome, I’m nervous now about some people saying the picture qualtiy was not good. Overall, it seems like the majority of people are happy. I do have some neighbors getting theirs on Monday so I guess we can check with them and cancel our installation if they say its not good here. Hopefully since our neighborhood was just added we are close enough to whatever to make our service good. Does anyone know “how close” you need to be so I could call and ask that question? I’m not especially tech savvy so would like some help there.

  7. Sue, how is AT & T working for you? We are nervous about the switch from Comcast to At & T too. We currently have the bundle with phone, internet and cable. Can you or anybody give me any current feedback on the two?

  8. We’ve had AT&T Uverse TV since last August/September, and we are pretty happy with it overall. We feel the picture is better than it was with Comcast, though we did have some issues with picture cutting out that I think ended up being the way the cables were set up. The one thing that really irritates me is the delay hitting “menu” or “guide” or whatever it is, to bring up the menu of shows or main menu or even DVR recordings. Sometimes it’s so slow that I’ve hit it twice and it pops up and goes away. I can’t say much for On Demand, I don’t think we watch that much of it besides the kid shows like Thomas or Mickey Mouse. I like that I can use the iPhone app to set a recording, but I also thought that I’d be able to watch my DVR recordings on my iPhone (great for the gym), which isn’t the case, in fact the selections for watching on the iPhone app are pretty lame. Overall we are pretty happy, though I think we are paying quite a bit (over $100?)to just have our current cable package so we may be cutting back. We still have Comcast for our internet service.

    • I had Uverse for 2 years, they kept giving me free service because they were at my house every other week to resolve issues, anyway they never did solve my problem and I was about to switch back to Comcast but liked Uverse features and price much better so I did a search on-line of uverse issues, see, I was having ongoing issues with unresponsive remote picture freezing etc etc, TURNS OUT, the problem is with my LED or LCD TV power save settings, as soon as I disabled this feature (which I didn’t even know I had) everything works great. Pic is wonderful, remote very fast, I will never go back to Comcast. Uverse customer service was wonderful, techs very nice and prof.

  9. Has anybody tried streaming in a VUDU movie from AT&T U-verse service, because you can’t. At&t makes it near impossible to stream these in. They would much rather you get frustrated with that buffering signal every 90 seconds, then just buy the movie from them. Customer service sucks, and you get transferred 7 times in 1 call. So for those of you getting the highest speed possible thinking it will help speed up streamed in movies directly to your internet TV, don’t.

  10. I’ve had Comcast Cable for quite a while but after the numerous billing issues with Comcast constantly increasing the price of my bill, technical unresolved issues topped with their horrible customer service, when I finally had the choice of U-verse being available in my neighborhood, I switched to AT&T U-verse U-300 about two years ago. I will NEVER go back to Comcast! The AT&T customer service, U-Verse products’ quality, data speed, the variety of services offered, as well as the multitude of discounts and features that you get for the price you pay is impressive compared to that of the competition (Comcast or the other providers).

    For those of you that had questions about the quality of the product I want to provide you on overview of some features of AT&T U-verse U-300 that make it a much better TV /Internet experience and worth the switch. U300 comes with 52 premium movie channels of Starz, Encore, SHOWTIME, THE MOVIE CHANNEL, & FLIX. Although I’ve had AT&T U300 for 2 years, I’ve had to relocate to IL from the Bay area 6 months ago. Therefore, I signed up again with At&t U300 when I moved to Chicago, IL. I got some great deals from At&t! I received Free HBO / Cinemax for 3 months ($26/month x3 = $78 savings), Free HD for 6 months ($10 /month x6 = $60 savings) and Free Installation ($29 savings). My total bill was $96/month which includes 290 channels and Max Turbo or the highest U-verse downstream speed at home of 24Mbps. I actually chose not to pay for HBO/Cinemax after the 3 months of HBO freebie cuz there are so many free movies to choose from anyway that I don’t really need it. AT&T is just about to adjust my U300 to $106/month and add $10/month for the HD fee. If we look at how much savings I’ve received or the year from AT&T for U-verse, its’ simple (and unlike Comcast AT&T doesn’t increase my bill for no reason):

    I paid $96 / month x 6 months = $576
    For the next 6 months I will pay $106×6=$636
    My Total Cost of U300 for the year = $1,212

    U300 is actually priced at $149 /month for the highest internet speed at home of 24Mbps.
    Therefore, the total price I would’ve had to pay if NO DISCOUNTS WERE PROVIDED FOR THE YEAR would have been = $1,788. This means I SAVED $576/YEAR by switching to A BETTER QUALITY PRODUCT, WITH TONS MORE FEATURES, BETTER CUSTOMER SERVICE, and TONS BETTER INTERNET SPEED!

    Are you still not convinced? Here are the At&t U-verse features that I promised to list for you. Of course, ‘seeing is believing’ and if you don’t like U-verse you can cancel within 30 days:

    The DVR: included at no extra cost with most with the U-300 gives you the ability to record up to 4 shows at once on a single DVR, Record and play back your shows in any room from a single DVR, pause, fast- forward, and rewind recorded shows on any TV in your home, pause your recorded show on one TV and pick it up on another, and store 233 hrs of SD or 65 hrs of HD content in the large capacity DVR included with U300 and U450. You can program the DVR from your Cell or from the Computer.
    HD Channels: Over 155 HD channels and growing with 100% digital picture quality on all screens in your house. You get One HD receiver.
    U-verse on Demand: Jacob never used it but I use it ALL THE TIME and I THINK IT ROCKS COMPARED TO COMCAST ON DEMAND! It gives you tons of options and it’s really easy to navigate.
    U-verse High Speed Internet: You have 5 choices here:

    • Pro – Up to 3 Mbps
    • Elite – Up to 6 Mbps
    • Max – Up to 12 Mbps
    • Max Plus – Up to 18 Mbps
    • Max Turbo – Up to 24 Mbps

    The price of your plan changes of course depending on the internet speed that you choose. Here is a major difference between U-verse and Comcast: With U-verse you have your own dedicated private line that you do not share with anyone else so nobody is going to decrease your internet speed by using the network at the same time with you. The fastest U-verse downstream speed at home is Max Turbo with 24Mbps. This is the one I selected with my U300 plan and I’ve been very happy with the internet speed. Comcast says that they offer a 25 Mbps high speed internet. Here is the catch: that 25 Mbps of Comcast is actually only 15 Mbps with a short or temporary power boost which increases to 25 Mbps for a very short boost that doesn’t last. It goes away and therefore your true internet speed is NOT 25Mbps but more like 15Mbps. Also, the Comcast Internet lines are shared so it’s not only used by you. If you happen to have your neighbors using their computers at the same time with you (most likely), your high speed 25Mbps that you paid dearly for, quite often won’t feel much better than a slow speed internet connection! The U-verse High Speed Internet doesn’t need any sort of boost since it already uses Fiber Optic lines (speed of light)!!! If you decide to go with Comcast and pay for their internet package of 25 Mbps (which is again only 15 Mbps) make sure you compare this to the price and the features of U-verse Max Plus of 18 Mbps to see how much more you get with U-verse for this solid 18Mbps. You can choose any of U450, U300, U200, U200 Latino, U-Family with the U-verse Max Plus. The plan cost changes depending on the internet speed you choose listed above.

    Also, AT&T U-verse High Speed Internet includes on the go access to the entire Wi-Fi network at no extra charge. Do the other guys charge you for that?

    Caller ID on TV: to see who’s calling w/out leaving the couch
    Multiview Channel Watch: This allows you to watch 4 channels at once and only AT&T has this! You can watch one channel in the large view while you see up to three more in the scrollbar on the right. I didn’t have any problems setting this up. It actually loaded up pretty quick for me.
    Picture in Picture channel Browsing (PiP): This allows you to see what plays on other channels while you watch your show by seeing a small screen opened on the large view.
    Change channels faster: Unlike most other providers when you change channels, there is no delay. It makes sense since U-verse is using the fiber optic network instead of the copper based wiring of Cable. This is how it’s supposed to be and most of the time there is no delay. The system isn’t perfect but much faster than Cable.
    AT&T U-Bar: The AT&T U-verse Internet Homepage allows you to Stream Movies, Upload Photos, Get customized sports, Customize your Stock View Watch, as well as the Weather. Through the AT&T U-Bar u can see all these w/out interrupting your TV viewing.
    AT&T U-Media Share: Access your photos and music from your PC to your TV
    AT&T U-Online Photos from Flicker: this allows you to see the photos you’ve uploaded to Flicker on TV.
    Installation is free for all U-verse plans except the basic plan)

    At&t constantly makes improvements, adds new features, and works out glitches in U-verse to improve their product. I know from experience that U-verse is better than it used to be even compared to 6 months ago. Today, AT&T is considered the largest telecommunications company in the United States and one of the largest in the world. Most likely you won’t regret having U-verse since AT&T has the know-how of making a great product based on fiber optic technology and as an experienced consumer I think it is way superior to Comcast’s Cable or to the so called ‘new’ Cable Xfinity. There is nothing new about XFinity at all. It is just a Comcast marketing gimmick to repackage an old copper wire cable product under a new name fearing the strong competition of the Fiber Optic Network based U-verse and the power of AT&T. I hope this helped 🙂

  11. I have to say that i have had a HORRIBLE experience with Uverse- Internet issues a few times a year, DVR breakdown 6 or 7 times a year ( really!!!!) – stay away front them if u can …

  12. I thank you for this information. I have had cable with Comcast in the past…this last installation was done by a technician who was not in the least interested in helping me nor answering any of my questions and it was only after she left that I became aware of all of her mistakes that included not using adequate cabling, instead she used a closet cable that of one of a former tenant that, in fact, she did not tell me she was doing. Further, she used a bogus contract.
    Thanks again.

  13. i have been watching alot of att pricing plans and so far theyre pricing plans on internet are not better than comcast…, comcast has better promotional plans (19.99/6mos vs 24.99/12mos). I however, when I am out of my promotional plan in 6mos (again)and if i am not allowed to recive yet another plan I personally want to give comcast the finger and disconect my internet with them. Comcast is a horrible company that disrespects its client and ALL THEYRE CUSTOMER SERVICE SUCK ITS HORRIBLE ITS BAD THEY WANT US (THE PEOPLE WHO PAY THEM) TO KISS THEYRE ASS OR THEY HANG UP ON US WHENEVER WE VENT ANY SORT OF FRUSTRATION WITH THEYRE SHITTY SERVICE… it doesn’t matter where you go for help (internet cust service chat, phone, email, store) they all do theyre best to treat u like garbage and add on as many hidden fees as possible. I feel screwed with by comcast. They keep sending me DTA (digital boxes) in excess by mail so they can charge me an extra 1.99/mo after i tell them i dont want it they send more any ways through mail (really are you fucking kidding me?)… i called they told me to take it back to the store (wich is 45min away) and waste my gas money (wich i did when i picked up a box from the store the day ebfore) i literally watched as the gas went down from driving 45min to then 45min from the store. That gas milieage was not recompensed. So LETS REVIEW – they can send me the shitty 1.99/mo dta boxes but force me to come to the store for the actual on demmand box? and then ask me to bring the dta back to the store or i will be charged 1.99/mo for it …i (being aware of my options) told them i will send it back the same way it came by mail, ups, im not driving back there to wait in a 2 hr mile long line filled with ppl who are so tired of theyre service… theyre just twats.. theres no excuese for this.

    as soon as my promotional offer ends I will call att and am willing to pay out the ass for install if the end all price (after promotional rates are dropped) is cheaper… where i live shitcast cable is provided by defualt so comcast wins half way but since i pay out of my account for internet comcast will no longer be an option in the online department for me soon.

    I’ve dealt with over 8 unreliable reps ranging from internet, phone, in person, and I AM THROUGH,,,, I AM THROUGH WITH YOUR GARBAGE,, if att is cheaper per month (after promotional rates are dropped and all) i will happily stick with them for ever……… fuck comcast.

    service rant –

    according to comcast you pay for theyre service (ok i got cable and internet great im happy)

    now… u have to pay another service JUST TO USE THEYRE SERVICE… yeah you know what im talking about theyre shitty little DTA boxes… 2 free boxes and anything after that they charge you… now in common logic does that even begin to make sense? It reaks of a monopoly cuz thats what it is…

    You pay for cable… and then are forced to pay to even watch another channel passed channel 12 (that you supposedly already pay for)… WTF comcast???????????????????

    comcast is to expensive… for them to think of taking another $2(1.99) a month per tv is ridiculous… its criminal and down right dirty business. They lost my respect. It’s not about the dollar… its about how they manipulate they’re terms of service to burden us to go through all these crappy changes…

    Digital.. my hd tv is Digital has a digital tunner only analog tv’s should requiere this but oh no… don’t u dare cuz comcast will cut off ur service passed channel 12 and display theyre hitler messages of how they want ur money so u can view what ur paying to view… morons.

  14. I don’t have uverse but I do know some one who has and have read alot about it. The thing with multiple tv’s. they do that so no one can go outside and put a splitter on your line and steal your cable. That I believe is the smartest thing any one can do. Plus they use fiber optic which allows greater bandwidth which comcast can never do. Yea you might pay a few bucks more but it’s worth it.

  15. Thank everyone I like all the detail reviews and experience but today I decided that I am tired of having malfunctioning cable converter(s) that i can only return by standing in ridiculous lines. As well as, waiting on the phone for hours only to find out that i need to stand in the ridiculous line. So I am moving to ATT uverse i’m not really a tv buff like my husband but my kids love PBS in my spare time when I just need a break and when the boxes arent working that sucks for me. My internet is my life line so I will try it and if I have to return to comcast which I dont think I will then so be it.

  16. AT&T customer service reps are always nice, helpful and patient. I know because I have to call them at least once per month…lost signal, nearly absent download speed, etc. Also seems very expensive; I have only Comcast as an option and it’s very painful to switch as I would lose a day of my life…What to do?

  17. I dropped Comcast because of price and poor service. But going to ATT and UVerse was the worst mistake of my life. ATT has the WORSE customer service ever. Try them, you’ll see.

  18. AT&T u-verse is awesome in it’s features. Had it for 3 years. unfortunately the customer service is non existent. Took 20 calls over a month and hours on hold just to have a guy 5000 miles away tell me there was nothing wrong and refuse to send a tech. Had my DVR fail and be replaced 3 times in 13 months. This time can’t get anyone to come out so I stopped service. 3 months later, they are still billing me even though I sent the equipment back 77 days ago with receipt!

  19. We have had U-Verse since March (because it was cheaper than Comcast) and have had nothing but multiple problems. We are lucky to be able to watch a minute of a show before the picture goes bad or lose our connection. Have had techs out multiple times. It still is not working like it should. I can’t wait until our year contract (was told it was month to month repeatedly by the salesman, but was lied to) is up next March. Didn’t have issues like this with Comcast. I’d rather pay a bit more and actually get the service I am paying for.

  20. Jacob, thanks for the great insight into both companies. As a subscriber to both finoty and verse in the past year, let me tell you the latter is light years ahead of the former. Not only have I experienced a delay in pressing buttons with the former, the latter continuously did what I asked.
    For an everyday schmo, the functions the verse offers greatly outweighs anything else: comprehensive search results on anything typed, navigational ability, and more inclusive info including the release date on a program.
    Honestly, I miss the verse. Apparently I can’t get it now because of my location so I have to deal with the nonsense that is finity

  21. One arrives at your home via a copper coaxial cable. The other arrives at your house via a copper phone line. All this talk about fiber… wha…? Comcast & AT&T both use fiber to the head-end for your part of town, maybe even to the node that serves your 200 or so homes, but after that, everyone is on copper. So quit all the hype about fiber.

  22. Had comcast (chicago cable in early 99-01)from 1999 through 2010 had pretty decent service super fast Internet 50mbs (had all channels phone 290$)it was great but one day it failed and 20 days for service so got fed up talking on phone and canceled on the spot (they canceled everything right after I hung up ) called uverse took 2 days to install I received 2 wireless boxes ( havetotal of 5 , 3 hard wired) all the channels the fastest Internet (25mbs) at 190$ so far it has been 2 years and a half with uverse. So far Internet does not meet the demand for today’s electronics iPad iPhones Xbox wifi tv etc it runs sluggish but I deal with it because of the price. Tv well it’s the same I do notice the sports and movies that move fast a bit blurry but this is with all services as only bluray delivers full 1080p and 120ghz or more. Yesterday I called comcast and I scheduled an installation it is $210 for all channels 5 boxes 50mbs Internet and phone. At end of it it depends I,think on what kind of Internet speed u need and how much u want to pay. Any ways I am going crying back to comcast let’s see how they treat me this time.

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