Tuesday, February 19 2013 20:05

[Updated] What's the Deal with AT&T U-Verse and YouTube: No longer Friends?

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uverseFINAL UPDATE: As of August 2013, I have switched to Xfinity by Comcast.

MORE UPDATES FOLLOW ORIGINAL POST: If you're an AT&T U-Verse Subscriber that happens to enjoy watching videos on YouTube, you might've noticed something irritating over the past few days: The two services don't seem to like each other anymore. Thousands of users (myself included) began experiencing service issues at roughly the same time on Saturday, February 15. I'm all for a good nostalgia trip, but a reminder of it was like trying to stream video to RealPlayer via a dial-up AOL connection is not my idea of a good time.

Reports vary slightly, but the general issue is this: Regardless of device, users trying to stream video from YouTube while using the U-Verse Service (or in some cases, just basic AT&T DSL) experience buffering issues starting around the 5-second mark of a video. In most cases, watching a video at lo-res 240p or 360p is doable (with buffering), but watching an HD video is impossible. For someone like myself, it's an interesting problem since I can't even finish watching the very videos I'm trying to share with you here on The Rock Father. For example, I can't even stream the 30-second Twinkle Time version of "The Harlem Shake" without buffering... at 360p! Some are calling this "throttling." I just think that something is broken.

As a loyal AT&T Customer for years, this is disappointing... and completely unacceptable. I pay $177 a month for this service, not to mention the $200 a month for our wireless plans.

Customer service has been silent on the issue, with repeated tweets to @ATTCustomerCare and messages on the company's Facebook pages (here and here) going unanswered. 

When the issue first appeared here at Rock Father HQ, I went through the usual steps - rebooting the modem/gateway, clearing cache, restarting machines... then determined that anything connected to U-Verse whether it be TV, mobile device, Xbox, etc. are all having the same issue... and only with YouTube. I can stream HD video from other sites with no problem. Additionally, if I take my Windows Phone off of the Wi-Fi network and just go to the LTE - guess what? I can stream HD to my phone from YouTube with no problem whatsoever.

So what gives, guys? Why the radio silence? Your customers are awaiting a proper response. As for me, Xfinity has creepy salespeople, so I'd hate to have to switch.

UPDATED 2/19/13:
A representative named Andy from @ATTCustomerCare finally responded... with the twitter equivalent to your IT Guy telling you to "clear your cache and delete cookies," linking to an old, standard Google/YouTube Support page about standard buffering and playback issues.  Remember: The first response is always to deflect blame. A similar situation took place over at DSLReports, where users pointed to "all providers" having issues, by citing old threads going back as far as 2008. Indeed, many have had problems at times, but they're unrelated. It's like a mechanic saying "Well, all cars break down." Let's look at what started happening this weekend.

Over at AT&T's official forums,  in an older thread since revived, a number of users began reporting the same issue on February 15/16. Hit this link and keep reading. Then there's this post on the same forum that states: "Apparently something has recently gone south with AT&T's YouTube CDN infrastructure... judging from this rash of posts with problems in the last two or three days."
Now, in fairness - I'm waiting for a response from YouTube on this as well, but if this is really "a Global problem," why can I switch off my Wi-Fi here at Rock Father HQ and jump over to 4G LTE on my Phone (also AT&T) and watch YouTube with no problem at all? 

And then there's acknowledgement of the problem by another AT&T rep, with the same stock response that Andy gave me above...
Curious indeed... 

UPDATED AGAIN: Service seems to have returned to a near-normal state without official response from any involved party, aside from the deflecting of blame noted in the AT&T Customer Care posts listed above. A few hours after this, service went back to crap and is since proving itself unstable. 

James Zahn

About James: A work-from-home Dad with a pair of daughters (Released in 2009 and 2012) - James Zahn is THE ROCK FATHER™. 

Bringing over two decades of experience in the entertainment industry into the family realm, Zahn is an Illinois-based Entertainment Writer, Media Personality, Commentator, Adventurer and Raconteur. 

He is a member of The Toy Insider Parent Advisory Board, a writer for the Netflix #StreamTeam, and serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers.

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for Napalm Records' PRODUCT OF HATE.

James and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Blogcritics, Fangoria, Starlog, The River Cities' Reader. Slowfish, Oil, and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360, has been quoted in BusinessWire, CNN and Babble, in addition to making appearances on ABC News, WGN and more. In the past he served as a writer for  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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