U-Verse vs Buckeye Express

I’ve been having frustrating problems with my Buckeye Express Internet service. Overall, Buckeye has done a good job. Their service has been pretty reliable (except that outages often kill phone and Internet service at the same time), and I like buying from a locally-owned company. Unfortunately, the Internet connection’s quality has been pretty variable. I’m supposed to get 12Mbps down and 1 Mbps down; in practice, I rarely see more than 7Mbps down and about 900Kbps up. The bigger problem is illustrated here:graph.gif

Notice that one peak around the 5000ms mark– that’s where something is inserting arbitrary TCP pauses. These pauses don’t follow any pattern that I can tell, but they wreak havoc both on my Mitel 5340/Teleworker and my Communicator Phone Experience devices. Every time one of these pauses hits, I get a noise on my phone like someone dropping 5lbs of lead shot into a galvanized trash can; it happens often enough to render that connection unusable.

The upstream jitter graph shows a similarly sad tale. It’s bad enough that I have 142ms of jitter, but it’s worse that it’s so variable. Most VoIP systems can compensate for jitter, but only if it remains predictable.

graph-1.gif

I called Buckeye to come out and fix it, but I don’t think the problem is something that can be resolved with a truck roll (although my local pedestal is out of spec, so they’re fixing it.) When AT&T announced that they were coming to Toledo, I eagerly hit their web site to find out if they offer service in Perrysburg… and they do. Their offering doesn’t yet include voice, but they have 10Mbps down/1.5Mbps up Internet service and a really slick-looking DVR setup that provides centralized DVR service for the whole house. I got in touch with Amanda Harris, the general manager for U-Verse in Ohio, and asked her some questions about the service; I’ll blog more about her answers later.

Perhaps more importantly, they offer free installation and a money-back service guarantee, so I scheduled them for an install. The installer came by this morning, did a quick walkthrough of the house to see what connections need to go where, and is now hooking our signal up at the VDSL pedestal. By day’s end, I should be in a position to do a back-to-back shootout of U-Verse vs Buckeye on the Internet front.

On the TV front, things are a little more complicated. The living room TiVo HD won’t work with U-Verse, so we’ll have to mothball it for the time being. However, the bedroom doesn’t have a DVR at all, so it will gain one. U-Verse in Ohio supports two simultaneous HD streams, so you can record two HD programs and watch up to 5 different HD or SD programs on 5 different TVs (not that we’ll ever have that many). We’ll also get some channels, like BYU-TV, that we don’t now get– at the cost of the familiar and easy-to-use TiVo interface. We’ll have to see how that plays off.

I’d write more, but the AT&T truck just pulled up again…

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