Tuesday, August 25, 2009

U-Verse vs Sunflower: Full-Out Geek Brawl

There are two heavyweight contenders for broadband supremacy in Lawrence, Kansas. They are AT&T's U-Verse and Sunflower Broadband. These two services are the only ones that offer the "triple play" of services: TV, phone, and internet.

Although they provide similar services, the two companies utilize different technologies to connect to the home. Both Sunflower and AT&T utilize fiber optic cable backbones, but neither company actually runs fiber to your house. Sunflower uses coaxial cable to transport data from their fiber network to your house, while AT&T uses copper telephone wiring to transfer data from their fiber network to your house. Sunflower's service is available throughout Lawrence, and AT&T is rapidly rolling out U-Verse, with the expectation that it will be available throughout the city by the end of the year.

We're going to compare the two services. We already subscribe to Sunflower's top-of-the-line Internet service, called Gold, as well as their most popular tier of cable service, called Bronze. We recently signed up for a U-Verse trial, requesting the equivalent level of TV Service (their "200 tier") and their top internet level ("Elite"). During the month we subscribe to both services, I will be doing comparisons of both the internet and TV service and quality, as well as general experiences with both services and companies, from the initial install to the final verdict, to give you an idea of what each one is like, and its plusses and minuses. And of course, as a geek, I will be very interested in sharing as much technical detail about the equipment, configurations, and so forth as I can.

Our U-Verse install is scheduled for the end of next week. Before then, emulating a sports columnist looking at each of the teams before the big game, I'll take a look at what advantages and disadvantages both AT&T and Sunflower bring to the table, what each company is advertising, and what I see as some of their strengths and weaknesses. I will try to be as fair as I can and give an unbiased opinion, documenting our experiences over the next month. Hopefully it will be as interesting for you to read as it is for me to experiment with!

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