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ATT Uverse is Terrible but COMCAST Isn’t Much Better

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

For the last two days, the only internet service I have had access to is Starbucks ($SBUX). I live in a building in Chicago. From 2003 until a few months ago, I had great internet service. DSL, worked great. My provider was Yahoo-ATT($YHOO $ATT). ATT forced me over to Uverse. Nothing I could do about it. Literally, one night I had internet. The next morning when I woke up I didn’t.

Since making the switch I have had nothing but problems. Extremely slow service, and now it’s just gone.
I gut rehabbed my apartment in 2003, and put Cat 5 wiring in throughout the whole thing. I don’t think it’s the wiring in my apartment. I only have one phone jack that comes in, because we are wireless.

Since 2003, I have noticed that no one calls me on my land line anymore. The only thing I get is calls asking for money. When we look at our bill, it’s basically just taxes. Most of those taxes just go to crap anyway. I am saying good bye to the land line.

I have had an iPhone since they came out, and payed for the unlimited data package. Now we find out ATT restricts those packages artificially. That’s awesome, for ATT. It stinks for people that bought unlimited data. Sitting in my apartment, I don’t get 4G. I don’t even get 3G. In Chicago, next to the lake, on the near north side, I am on the Edge network. Might as well have a clam shell phone.

Chicago technology is no better if you go into the Loop. On ATT it’s impossible to access key data services and providers, apps that make your life more convenient. The poor cell service at the Chicago Board of Trade ($CME) is legendary among traders. When you are inside the building the limestone must screw with cell technology. Might as well be back in 1930.

This is troubling for tech companies looking to build and grow in Chicago. The infrastructure here is poor. At 1871, they remedied that by having the phone companies string extra bandwidth inside the Merchandise Mart.

Today, I was grocery shopping at The Butcher and Larder, and at a Dominick’s at 2000 West. No cell service at 2000 West. Friend couldn’t call me to make plans for the Cubs game later today.

From my Twitter stream and Facebook stream I know I am not alone. Many others are having horrible problems with Uverse.

Our alternative is Xfinity from Comcast($CMCSA). We tried to call them to get internet set up. After speaking with four different people, we couldn’t even write an order ticket. One rep wouldn’t even talk to my wife who was handling the entire transaction. They had to talk to me. So my wife told me what to say and I was repeating it in the phone. The rep from Comcast hung up on me.

Does anyone have a way that they worked around this?

This also brings to mind the role of the FCC. When I travel internationally, I find cell and internet service is so much better than it is in the United States. Asia and Europe have wonderful cell service with great voice quality and cheap service.

Our television, radio, phone and internet services are highly regulated. They aren’t regulated for people, they are regulated to benefit the companies so that they can carve up the marketplace. This creates less competition. The disintermediation of television and cable is in its infancy. There are devices and work arounds that people are installing to put the power of choice in their hands, not some central government/corporate bureaucrat.

Media is changing in the US. There are many specialized networks, over the air networks that target specific audiences. All the data generated by social networks and other methods is allowing marketers to figure out new products, target niches, and deliver the goods and services to you precisely the way you want and when you want them.

But, our systems and structures are living in the antique pre-technological world. They will never catch up. We would be better off striking all forms of communication regulation, getting rid of the FCC and letting entrepreneurs and companies interact to form a customer focused market that serves us, not them.

It shocks me that there is at least 40 some percent of people in the US that want bigger government because somehow, with bigger government, our troubles would go away. The data, and our experiences simply don’t back them up.

I don’t care about political parties. I know Democrats are all about big government getting bigger. That’s why you can never vote or give money to them. Republicans aren’t much better-but many of them are learning. At least there is a small sliver of hope.

We really do need a third party. When I speak to many wealthy people I know, they would love to see one too. Shrink government. Get rid of much regulation. Let markets and entrepreneurs take over. The people own the checkbooks. They should be our servants, not the other way around.

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