Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A couple quick updates

U-Verse Internet

After over 10 weeks of uptime, our U-Verse connection suffered it's first extended outage last night, going down for about 4 hours between 11:45 PM and 3:45 AM. The actual DSL link stayed up, but there was no internet access - i.e. the lights were on but nobody was home!

My guess is that there was an equipment outage in AT&T's "head end" rather then any problem with the DSL line itself. Either way, the result was the same, 4 hours downtime.
This knocks our overall uptime since we got U-Verse down to 99.70% (from 99.99%) which is still better (so far) then our average uptime with Sunflower Broadband, which was 99.14%. This U-Verse downtime better not become a habit. I'm cutting them some slack since everyone gets a freebie, but yeah, I'm not quite as enthusiastic as I was a day ago.

As an aside, as part of my troubleshooting when the net went down, I rebooted the home gateway. It made no difference for the main issue, but it did end up fixing a nagging problem I recently discovered where the home gateway wasn't fully opening up mapped ports through the firewall. It would kind of "half open" them in a weird way. The reboot fixed that. The router had been up for two months prior, which for a consumer router, is probably simply too long to remain running reliably without a power cycle.

Sunflower Broadband cable TV

Sunflower Broadband just announced a new multi-room DVR which is very similar to what we tried with U-Verse TV. As I mentioned in my TV overview, U-Verse has a multi-room DVR where you can watch recorded shows in any room and pause a show in one room and pick it up in the other. Sunflower is offering this as an "add on" to the existing TV service for an addition $25 per month (for two rooms) which makes their price (with this service) about the same as U-Verse.

For the technically curious, Sunflower is using Pace's multi-room DVR for this, and is actually one of the first companies in the United States offering the service. Pace's system works over ethernet or coaxial cable, and is similar to U-Verse in that there is a main unit with a hard drive acting as a network-attached storage device serving the other set-top boxes. The UI (at least for the Sunflower version of the box) is similar to their existing HD i-Guide, in other words, it's not going to put TiVo's UI designers out of business any time soon! Engadget has more details about the system's tech specs.

We're still satisfied with our TiVo, but having a multi-room option on both cable and U-Verse to choose from is certainly a good thing.