I use the Internet for business. So I need a decent internet connection to access the Patent Office website and communicate with clients. And I need a phone line with a clear connection, as I can't talk with clients through the echo chamber of a cell phone.
Until recently, I had a pretty low-cost phone service here in Georgia. At one time, I used a "poverty land line" service of $16 a month, and used my cell phone or an AT&T calling card to make long distance calls. I was able to get DSL "lite" service for $16 a month, with a free upgrade to their regular speed rate of 3.0 mps.
But that all went away. I needed a voicemail solution, as customers calling me were getting baffled by busy signals, and AT&T expired the "free upgrade" to its internet service, and also raised the rates. Pretty soon, my phone line went from $35 a month to $60, then $85, and now, over $100. This is just not acceptable.
But what are the alternatives? I explored the local cable TV company, Comcast, which offers cable modem and cable phone, but their cost structure was no better than AT&T's landline.
AT&T does offer a new fiber-optic service called UVERSE. They have wired (or fibered) the island for this, so it is available in my area, for phone and Internet only. They send digital signals via fiber optic to the pole, and then use the twisted-pair "drop" to deliver a digital signal to the home.
The digital signal provides internet service, and from this, you can get a phone line via VoIP for $25 a month, for 250 minutes. One way to save money, I suppose, would be to go to data only, and then use magic jack or another VoIP carrier for for voice portion.
There are other phone plans available as well - $35 a month for unlimited calling, and $45 a month for an International plan that offers better overseas rates.
The "elite" Internet service, of 6 mps, with a 250 GB limit, is $43 a month, with a 12-month promotional discount of $23.05, to make it $19.95 a month. This discount basically offsets the installation and equipment fee of $199.
So you are looking at $68 a month for Internet and Phone, about half of what I am paying right now, and with double the Internet speed. And that is, according to AT&T the actual billed amount. Since the service is not a public utility, there are no local taxes and fees tacked on - or at least not many. We'll see.
I will experiment with the service for a year. At that time, I may downgrade to the 3.0 mps service, as this seems to be more than fine for streaming movies and the like. And I may go to another brand of VoIP to save money as well. This could bring the service down to below $50 a month.
But it seems that AT&T is trying to push people to convert to UVERSE and is dropping DSL, over time. By raising rates, it is making the UVERSE option the only workable one. And from what people at AT&T are telling me, they are no longer investing in the DSL system, and hoping to phase it out.
It will be interesting to see if AT&T spins off its "landline" division entirely, to some company like Frontier. The landline business is a regulated utility, and as such, the profits are marginal. The fiber optic business, apparently, has more headroom for profits. AT&T could operate without the traditional POTS switched-network service, if it chose to do so.
UPDATE: A fly in the ointment already.....
I receive this e-mail today:
Dear Robert Bell,
Thank you for your recent AT&T Order. Our records indicate that service already exists at the address you provided so your order could not be processed.
To complete your order, contact AT&T and let us know if you are changing the existing service or want to set up additional new service at the same address.
Please give us a call at 1-877-833-5989 (Mon-Fri 8 am to 10 pm, or Sat-Sun 8 am to 5 pm Eastern Time) to provide the necessary information we need to complete your online order.
To prevent an automatic cancellation of your order, it's important we hear from you within 10 days.
Thank you for choosing AT&T.
So I call and wait through musical hold. I had to call three times, and I am on the phone right now.
Let me ask you, who in their right mind would keep their DSL service AND sign up for UVERSE?
AT&T has made it a corporate policy to convert customers to UVERSE, but when you do, the make it a pain in the ass to do so.
The lady on the phone acts like no one has ever done this before. "We have to cancel your DSL service first!" they say. OK, well, duh. But you don't have to do that TODAY, when the install is NEXT WEEK, Doya?
They end up telling me to call back tomorrow...... This is AT&T Uverse service? So far, it sucks.