My first few days with U-Verse

A few days ago I switched to U-Verse from XFinity for a few reasons:

  1. Cost – We get everything we had and then some under Xfinity (aka Comcast) for $10 less a month.  Plus another $300 in gift cards.
  2. Channels – XFinity has been continually removing the number of HBO and other HD channels available to us in the last 6 months.  We used to have 5 or 6 non-Spanish HD HBO channels less than a year ago I think – as of the other day it was 2 maybe.  But then again it’s almost impossible to find them because for some inexplicable reason they decided to spread them out!  With U-Verse there are 12!
  3. PITA factor.  So this isn’t entirely XFinity’s fault but we don’t have a cable jack where we have our main family room tv.  It’s against a load bearing wall with cross-bracing and I don’t feel like paying the cost, if it’s even possible, to have the wall retro-fitted with a cable jack.  So I have to run a cable down the wall from upstairs.  U-G-L-Y.  Enter U-Verse.  They now have a wireless box so that no wires are needed.  Sweeet.
  4. Crappy DVR.  You’d think after like 3 or 4 years we’d get a better DVR from XFinity.  No, same crappy one with limited disk space.  It’s a pig too.  When we were visiting my father-in-law in Chicago I got to play with his U-Verse DVR.  Much faster feel when using it.  Way more responsive.

So how has my experience been?  Well, mostly good.  And much better after tonight.  First a few things that haven’t been as good so far:

  1. Internet speed.  I’m not getting 18 Mbps of data.  The tech advised me I might not.  I’m at the virtual limit distance wise.  He says they’ll bring in a tech to setup a bonded pair to improve signal strength.  I’m guessing that will help.  Basically, due to distance I’ll probably see more noise and that impacts speed.
  2. Crappy router.  It’s a pretty new 2Wire router but the thing is still not very Mac friendly.  At my father-in-laws I had to reset the router every morning or else it’d just stop working with my MacBook Pro until I cycled the AirPort on the laptop.  And I’d have to do that about every 30 minutes once it started.  I had to do that about once a day here or it’d start to get crappy too.  Uggh.  Almost took back Xfinity due to this.   The positive I will say about the 2Wire is that the new version does look pretty nice and its web interface does have some nice stats to provide but that’s about it.  More on my solution below.
  3. The wireless DVR / central DVR architecture seems a little flakey.  I’ve had stutters and drops in the first week.  I’m hoping my solution to the above problem will help this one.

So what do I like?

  1. Channels.  Lots of ’em.  Lots of HD.  Am pretty sure they use a lower bit-rate than Comcast, though.  The picture doesn’t pop as much but I can live with it.  I’m not as much of a home theater snob as I used to be.
  2. Huge DVR.  I got a newer model that has a 500GB hard drive in it.  It’s good for about 150 or so hours of HD recording.  Sweet.
  3. The web interface for managing my DVR subscriptions.  Again, sweet.

So what about the wireless router problem?  Well, what I wanted to do was just use the U-Verse modem (since it’s VDSL I believe and you can’t just any DSL modem apparently…) and continue to use my trusty D-Link router.  The thing has been rock solid and needs re-booting maybe 2-3 times a year at most.  You can’t really shut-off the U-Verse wireless router and you can’t run it in true bridge mode but you have two other choices basically.  One, you can setup your router on a different sub-net and connect to your router or you can just wire your router in as wireless access point and act as a pass-through.  This thread at the AT&T forums has all the gory details.  I chose the wireless access point option on page 2, post 3 at this link in the thread.

Basically you do the following:

  1. Shut off your DHCP on your router (mine being the D-Link)
  2. Connect my router to the 2Wire with a Cat5 cable from LAN port to LAN port (NOT WAN port on either end).
  3. Set my D-Link to use the static IP address of 192.168.1.10.  I chose this because the 2Wire-3801HGV model that I have seems to default of using the range 192.168.1.64 – 192.168.1.254 so this would insure not having an IP address collision on my network.
  4. Left everything else the same from my previous configuration (SSID, security type, password, etc.)

It just worked basically.   Everything seems more stable since I did this and moved most of the devices on my home network back to the D-Link.

That’s about it.  If things change I’ll post more details.  Hopefully the router configuration above will help someone out.

 

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