In today's market, consumers can choose from dozens of providers when it comes to television, Internet and telephone service. The average consumer must decide between digital, satellite, cable, and fiber optic television services and then find a provider to give them access. During the decision-making process, many consumers find themselves exploring the pros and cons of AT&T U-Verse vs. cable TV. These two services are very different and, depending on your needs, one may be the right fit for you.
What is U-Verse?
U-Verse is a service offered by AT&T that has been rapidly growing in popularity since its release in 2009. U-Verse uses fiber optic technology to provide customers with access to digital and high definition television via IP multicast, which allows a single channel to be sent to many television sets. Unlike cable television, which is a connection that requires the ability to carry all of the available channels at any given time, the U-Verse IP multicast model streams only the channels the customer is using.
Most urban and suburban areas have access to some kind of cable television service, but U-Verse is not available in all markets. AT&T U-Verse is currently available in 131 markets across 22 states and new markets are being added every month. Potential customers can check the availability of U-Verse in their area by typing their AT&T phone number or address into the AT&T website. To check for cable TV providers in your area, check the phone book or perform an online search using your zip code.
The pricing of both U-Verse and cable TV services will vary depending on your area and the promotions available during your sign up. Many television and Internet providers offer their customers the opportunity to "bundle" their separate plans for TV, Internet and home phone into one convenient bill, often for a discount. At the time of publication, U-Verse offers its basic package of 80 channels for a promotional price around $30 a month. After the six-month promotional period, the package goes up to the regular price of $54 a month. Packages with more channels range in price from $59 to $117 a month. Cable TV prices vary according to the service area but basic packages are typically priced between $30 and $50 during the promotional period.
Many television providers offer digital video recorders to their customers so they can record television programs to watch later. U-Verse's DVRs allow customers to record up to four programs at once in standard definition. Most cable company DVRs only have the capacity to record two shows at one time. HD programming is available from U-Verse and as an option from most cable companies, though U-Verse typically offers more channels in HD than cable. Another feature that sets U-Verse apart from cable providers is the ability to access and control from internet-connected computers and mobile devices. Most cable services require the customer to use the remote control to order pay-per-view and to set the DVR.
The installation process can be difficult for both U-Verse and cable television services but there is a higher likelihood of difficulties being encountered during U-Verse installation. Because U-Verse runs on fiber optic wiring, your existing wiring is often not sufficient -- additional cables and sometimes multiple technicians may be required. Whereas a standard cable installation can take several hours, new U-Verse customers can expect the process to take as long as eight hours and the technician may need to make several visits before the service works properly.
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