Monday, October 5, 2009

U-Verse TV parting shot and wireless gateway weirdness

As I mentioned last week, we decided to go with Sunflower Broadband for television, keeping U-Verse for internet. This weekend, I disconnected the U-Verse set-top boxes in preparation for shipping them back to AT&T (this shipping is handled by the UPS store; AT&T has an account with them, so we just drop the boxes off there).

This gave me the chance to snap a couple extra pictures of various aspects I hadn't mentioned before. Specifically, you can now get a good view of the various ports on the back of the unit as well as seeing how the two units stack up right next to each other. (the smaller box is the secondary unit, sans DVR hard drive.)

Interestingly enough, once AT&T shuts off television service to your home (which they do remotely), you can't even use the DVR to watch previously-recorded shows. This is different then other devices like the TiVo, which allows you to watch shows previously recorded even if you no longer are paying for service.

Wireless weirdness

Last Thursday night, our U-Verse residential gateway's (RG's) wireless interface failed. Basically, it was randomly dropping connected wifi devices, and if you tried to connect a new device, sometimes it would connect, and sometimes it would not connect. Even if it connected, it would drop after a few minutes, or the DHCP server wouldn't assign an IP address to the wifi client. I determined that this was not any type of new interference or signal issue. My solution was simply cycling wifi off and turning it back on from the RG's admin interface, after which everything went back to working properly.

Needless to say, this glitch didn't fill me with confidence as to the robustness of the residential gateway. In comparison, our previous wireless router, an Apple Airport Extreme, ran uninterrupted for over a year without any glitches like this. I should also note that the DSL signal (i.e. internet connection) was fine through this entire episode. The problem is local on the gateway itself, not the upstream connection.

Although the RG allowed wireless to be reset without requiring a full reboot of the entire RG, we noticed later when we tried to watch a television show that was recorded during this time period that it was blocky, pixellated, and skipped a lot, indicating that the RG was really having some issues. We had already decided at this point to drop the U-Verse TV service, but this certainly reinforced our decision.

As of now, the RG has been performing fine, both wired and wireless since then. I will certainly be keeping an eye on things though. File this under "reliability, long term, questions of."

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