Sunday, December 13, 2009

AT&T's U-verse

Last week I migrated from Time Warner Cable's residential services to AT&T's U-verse service. This was a change long in coming but transitioning the home's Internet, phone and TV services from one company to another is not a decision I made quickly considering week day installation logistics and the hassles involved in returning equipment and canceling the prior service bundle. 

Over the past couple of months I had received several mailers from AT&T promoting the U-verse service. There were at least a half-dozen mailed pieces extolling the features of   the service on my desk.  These were just enough reminders from AT&T that my discontent with Time Warner Cable merited a change in services.

On Monday last week I made the call and a Friday U-verse installation was scheduled. I received an order confirmation via of email and voice mail and text message reminders of the scheduled installation. On Friday morning the installer himself called to provide his ETA within the time range initially provided. I was impressed by the level of communication even before the installation began. 

In all the installation took about five hours. The AT&T representative not only installed the services bundle, he offered to rewire the phone lines from the box on the side of the house with cabling to provide better voice call quality. Beyond the installation, he remained on site and worked through turning off U-verse's wireless networking as I reset my Time Capsule to work in bridge mode with the U-verse modem. I was pleasantly surprised by the responsiveness of the representative and the quality of the work provided. In all I'm glad I made the switch.

Despite my increasing frustration with Time Warner Cable, it was my existing relationship with AT&T through my iPhone service contract that was a catalyst in making the switch. I figure if the company was smart enough to make the iPhone deal with Apple, it was smart enough to provide satisfactory home services as well. I consider my switch to U-verse AT&T's own iPhone halo effect.

Both Verizon and AT&T are losing traditional home phone customers by the minute. U-verse is one way AT&T is working aggressively to gain new revenue and establish new relationships with residential customers. In the September quarter AT&T had a net gain of 240,000 U-verse customers, bringing the installed base to 1.8 million customers. Obviously it's a relatively small segment of overall operations but it should grow at an impressive pace.

I'm long AT&T and see the company emerging as a much more aggressive provider of home, business and wireless services. Combining what I pay to AT&T for family plan wireless services and now for a multi-service bundle of residential services, I see AT&T as a company with strong growth potential and a 5.9% dividend at Friday's closing price as an investment incentive.

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