Posts Tagged ‘U-verse’

AT&T U-verse Video – Doing Better!

November 18, 2012

About two years ago, I started to badger AT&T about their lacking elements for U-verse Video service… I wanted “everything everywhere.” Anything that came to me through the set top box should come to my cellphone and my desktop computer.

Did you notice the welcome online changes on November 1? I did…

After months (years) of e-mail with use cases and user interface design submissions and critiques back and forth, I saw my ideas put into practice. Almost everything I asked for was delivered – everything except a simple channel list to click on to watch what is playing on a channel right now. They did a nice navigation window to see what is scheduled, didn’t they? Some channels stream live to my desktop computer – most channels show the latest episode of most every program. Added to that is the Hulu-Plus library on demand that has been in place for quite some time, now. This is not bad. At some point, every channel will stream current programming to the desktop – just you wait.

So, I’m tickled pink!  They listened!  And they are following through! For now, though, you still need that darn set top box…

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U-verse runs Windows in the Set Top Box…

May 26, 2009

What a surprise – AT&T has put a Microsoft Windows product in my home… Well, that really shouldn’t have been a surprise. In my job, I have had some foreknowledge about AT&T U-verse service, and I knew that Microsoft was the major software supplier for the U-verse service offering. I didn’t know some of the “finer” details, though – not until I had some problems… 

AT&T U-verse service is a pure digital service. The video service is an IPTV over VDSL implementation that employs the standard AVC/H.264 codec in a set top box. I am a new U-verse customer this month! I am currently quite satisfied with U-verse and give it a “Rave” thumbs-up. The service had some initial hiccups, and the service techs who responded were happy to let me look (and look closely) over their shoulders. 

Calls to U-verse technical support were answered by folk in the Philippines who were polite and patient, and they all spoke English excellently. But none had any real technical knowledge aside from what their computer help screens told them. The first troubleshooting steps: restart the set top box, then power cycle the set top box, then power cycle the gateway box. I am thinking to myself that this is how I do battle with Microsoft Windows… And then it hit me – maybe the set top box IS running Windows – huh… Sure enough, a quick check of the System Information screen from the set top box shows it to be running Microsoft Windows CE 5.0. That should not have been a surprise to me, but it was. 

More surprises. The service was initially quite unreliable. After a short period of time (10 to 30 minutes) audio would begin to stutter and video would suffer pixelation defects and momentary image freezes until the stream was lost and I was left with a static image and an unresponsive set top box. The local service techs who were dispatched to my home can query the NOC and my residential gateway from their laptops, and they can see all the fault and performance monitoring statistics associated with my service. The NOC compiles the PM primitives and parameters that I helped to define many years ago at ITU-T and ANSI from the cabinet at the curb: ES, SES, UAS, LOSS, LOFS etc. The gateway box compiles CV and FEC counts and a host of other statistics. It was not clear what the standard for the FEC feature was – G.993.1 (2004/06) defines a VDSL FEC strategy, and I presume that it is employed with a low redundancy value or 2 or 4 by AT&T. G.775 (I participated in the drafting of this standard at ITU-T some years ago – it was fun!) with the “famous” annex provides a huge variety of alternative FEC strategies to employ – hardly a standard… I would be curious to know more about what AT&T is really doing for FEC in the U-verse TV service. 

I am happy to report that my U-verse service is currently stable and working very well for me, now – for almost exactly one week – with 2 ES, 0 SES, 0 UAS, 2700 corrected blocks and 7 uncorrectable blocks. I would like to see 0 uncorrectable blocks, though…

This was really quality time for me with the service techs. I am looking forward to my next service failure!

[Poster’s note: Windows, Windows CE and U-verse are trademarked products and services of Microsoft and AT&T respectively.]