U-Verse And The NFL


Helaine and I watched the NFL all day. The Eagles debacle was tough to take. We still watched. This is our Sunday ritual.

Football viewing takes place upstairs in the loft where we’ve got a comfy sofa and a wall mounted TV. I’m not sure how large the set is, but it’s the biggest we’ve ever owned. Nowadays it’s considered mid-sized!

Bigger sets really let you see the action. They also let you see the shortcoming of your TV reception.

Here’s the hidden secret of HDTV: What you get from cable or satellite is a shadow of what you could or should get!

In order to pack more signals onto a satellite transponder or coaxial cable each is compressed. Picture details are sacrificed to preserve bandwidth.

Each channel is individually compressed. Not all channels are equal.

I expected AT&T U-Verse to be less compressed than Comcast, my provider back in Connecticut. After all, AT&T’s run from the central office to my house is over a dedicated strand of fiber. The available bandwidth is huge.

Compression artifacts are most easily seen in areas of high contrast. When a football player runs down the field, his body is surrounded by these misshapen and miscolored pixels. And the bigger the screen the more noticeable they are.

You can see some of the distortion in the Fox Sports logo at the top of this entry. The edges should be clean. They are not.

I’m wondering whether AT&T U-Verse actually knows their own product. They should be able to sell a superior video service. Their infrastructure is much more robust than cable or satellite. And yet their video product doesn’t seem better to me.

Make no mistake. I’m not unhappy with U-Verse, their DVR alone is worth the price of admission, but I know it could be so much better at virtually no additional cost.

Sometimes you just shake your head.

15 thoughts on “U-Verse And The NFL”

  1. I had the same problem with UVerse. It depends a lot on how you connect from the box to the TV set. Coax was good but blurred the edges . Component was better a lot clearer. HDMI was best very clear. The other difference was the larger the set( mine is 47″) you really need to have HD channels. I called them and they gave them to me free as long as I signed up for a year. A large HDTV without HD channels is OK but you don’t take full advantage of the TV. I also know there signal is amplified at your home and all the connections must be good. One bad connection even if it is not used will degrade the signal. Once I got all the connections sorted it is great!

    1. Harrison – I have HD service and use HDMI cables. HDMI is a digital protocol. It works or it doesn’t. It doesn’t degrade with poor connections like analog.

      The problem isn’t in my house.

  2. I haven’t heard one kind word about Uverse from people who have subscribed to their service. My cousin had to buy a tv new set because the one they wouldn’t work with Uverse. Another friend was constantly having problems, so they never knew if they would be able to see the program they wanted to watch. When I was in Staples one day, I was talking to a guy that worked there. He was forever calling their tech dept. They would tell him to do this or that to correct the problem. Finally he told him he was going back to Comcast, so when he turned on his TV set, he could see a picture and get sound.

    1. Carole – A TV set can’t be incompatible with U-Verse. However, unlike ‘regular’ cable TV you must use a converter box at all times. That’s because the signal is digitally encrypted. It is rapidly becoming that with conventional cable as well.

      1. Here is a question I have about Uverse. If you have an old TV that requires a convertor box, would you have to purchase a new TV to run Uverse? My TV is about 10 yrs old, not one of these big screen TV you can hang on your wall.

  3. Such major problems! When I was a kid, we had two stations to chose from. Channel 8 or channel 3 – and that was in Black and White. The up side of that was that you knew every day what show was on at what time and on which channel.

    Kind of puts it in perspective, doesn’t it?

  4. I have had uverse for almost 4 years, I think we were the first town / street to get it. I almost immediately improved my picture quality. I do howerver agree with Harrison, the connections all need to be clean and of good quality cabling and connectors. I had my share of issues in the beginning, they were at my house frequently, but this is to be expected, as we were the lab rats! To AT&T’s credit, the gave me a free month of TV for each visit……It was installed in Jan, I did not pay for TV on my uverse bill until October ! Once the initial issues were ironed out, it is fine. Recently I was having an issue, which turned out to be the feed from the channel, not uverse……for some reason we never noticed it being juts on that one channel. While the tech was there, I asked some questions about receivers, remotes etc……..before he left, he said let’s not make this a wasted trip, he installed all new receivers (5) and remotes….. the service has been reliable, good quality and the service even better in my experience. Another note, during out 3 natural disasters over the past 3 years, when we were out of power approx a week each time (we love our generator!!) uverse was never down for more than 2 hours total during the totla of all 3 storms !

  5. Uverse operates over a DSL line. If you get 5 Mbps for HD, you’re doing well. Compression is steep, in order to keep bandwidth in check. It’s the FIOS service that has high available bandwidth, but they also compress, though not as much. ATT, Dish and Direct all suffer from bandwidth limitations. Cable providers that have not gone to 3 and 4 services per QAM have -much- better video quality, but there are not many left who provide good HD quality.

    Good luck. Perhaps you should get a 19″ TV for viewing? It will look much better 🙂

    1. In some cases U-Verse is delivered by DSL–not here. I have a clean fiber strand directly from my house to the central office. There is no reason to heavily limit the bandwidth to my house.

      1. Except to do so breaks their model for nationwide delivery. They would need to capitalize a large group of expensive encoders to provide the higher quality in your area. Not too likely, I’m afraid…

        Sit back a little further. 🙂

          1. As a vendor of the hundreds of HD encoders that they use, I’ll have to politely disagree. They cannot set compression ‘any way they choose’, as they have committed to particular data rates in their super head ends. Any changes from these rates for specific marketplaces require -new- encoders for each service they want to vary. It’s a huge expense to capitalize for one marketplace.

            They could choose to pass along the services off the satellites without decoding and re-encoding, (improving video quality) but again, that would be a different model from the rest of the country.

            I’m afraid you have expectations that will not be met.


  6. They COULD deliver a better product at no additional cost but, to quote Monty Python ; “Where’s the fun in that?”
    Or more specifically; where’s the PROFIT in that? If they can’t make money off of it, they’re not going to bother.
    I’m willing to bet they’ll eventually offer you a solution to the problem…for a small monthly service charge.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *