05-26-2010 6:17 PM
Let me first state: I am NOT a UVerse subscriber. I don't even live in an AT&T market.
My in-laws, however, are UVerse subscribers.
Being a geek and marrying into the family, of course they come to me for technical support and advice.
The have had AT&T DSL service for some time. I helped get them set up with a wireless router and I personally built their desktop computer. Until the other day, there were no problems with said computer, and it has been in service for nearly two years. I have since moved away, and the only assistance I can provide them now is via telephone.
They switched to UVerse a few months ago, and had no problems with either the desktop I built for them, my father-in-law's work laptop, or any other computer that has connected to their network (including my own laptop when we visited them last month).
My mother-in-law reported a problem, which turned out to be some malicious software. It was one of those fave anti-virus phishing schemes. The installed AV caught it, but couldn't clean it, so I assisted them with manually removing it.
When we booted into WinXP's safe mode and were evaluating startup items in MSCONFIG to find the malware, the computer suddenly did a hard shut off.
We attempted this again, thinking a switch or plug could have been bumped accidentally, and got the same result. As an IT professional, this was unusual.
We were able to get the computer booted into regular WinXP (not safe mode) and remove the malware.
We made 100% certain that their internet functionality was working. There were somoe oddities, but I was able to plug in some external DNS servers (OpenDNS.org) and all was good for a short period of time (a few hours, I believe).
Their internet quit working, inexplicably
The network adapter was not obtaining an IP address at all.
This is where I discovered the PlugLink setup, and started swearing under my breath. Any self-respecting geek will tell you that networking-over-power-line setups are a scary proposition. You're connecting a low-voltage network adapter to a device that connects to a high-voltage electrical circuit with this setup. As a professional, this is not something I would recommend to anyone, regardless of circumstances.
So after much troubleshooting and an AT&T technician coming to their house, the prognosis is that the computer has a hardware problem.
After more telephone troubleshooting with my father-in-law, I came to the same conclusion, although I don't believe the computer is at fault. I am convinced that the PlugLink hardware is what caused the damage.
So now I have questions for AT&T that my in-laws won't ask:
1 - How can they, me, we, or AT&T determine the ultimate cause of the NIC failure in this computer, specifically for the purpose of determining liability. My in-laws now have a computer with a hardware failure that appears to this professional to be caused by the hardware installed by the AT&T installer.
2 - Why would AT&T consider this as a reasonable solution, knowing full-well that electrical circuits are far from stable in many households? AT&T techs aren't electricians, so they certainly aren't going to test electrical circuits for any potential issues that could cause such damage.
Furthermore, without knowing the quality of an electrical circuit, how can AT&T justify using network-over-powerline equipment to overcome range limitations?
(I am pretty certain I know the answer: AT&T wants to make more money by charging customers for additional "value-added" services, such as running cable and installing network drops.)
3 -Why would an AT&T installer put the 2Wire device in a bedroom, which is the furthest point in the house form the desktop computer in this scenario? Would it not make sense to place a router in a room where there is a computer, in this case, the only desktop computer in the home?
Are AT&T installers/technicians trained this way?
It would make more sense to place the 2Wire int he living room where my in-laws have a big pretty flat-screen TV, but this is not what took place.
4 - I understand that any ISP doesn't want their installers fooling with a user's equipment, such as a router or firewall. Thye logic behind such a policy is certainly a sound one.
However, why would a technician or installer not bother to even consider an existing home network, and simply cast it aside? In this case, the installer left all the equipment plugged in and operational, albeit not connected to any computers in teh household. There was no explanation given to my in-laws, who assumed it still needed to be on for their internet access to function.
5 - Out of personal curiosity, are there any known and/or published failure statistics of network adapters or networked devices that are connected using the ethernet-over-powerline equipment that AT&T recommends and installs in these sorts of situations? I'd be curious to hear it from technicians, installers, other IT/networking professionals or AT&T support personnel.
I'm decidedly frustrated by this scneario. My in-lawys are now shopping for a wireless adapter for their computer, which they shouldn't have to do.
I'm going to toss out my ideal resolution:
- AT&T replaces my in-laws' computer, or at least the components necessary to restore full functionality. In this case, that would be the motherboard, since the NIC was built into the motherboard. Depending on availability of compatible parts, a replacement CPU and/or RAM may be necessary. (It's AMD socket AM2, so I doubt that would be required.)
- AT&T either provides a network run from the bedroom to my in-laws computer room OR reconfigures the UVerse equipment so the 2Wire DSL modem/router is in the computer room where it should have been in the first place.
- AT&T compensates my in-laws for the time spent waiting on the AT&T technician that didn't show up during the scheduled time block.
- AT&T comepnsates my in-laws for the cost of the wireless network adapter they are about to purchase.
- AT&T compensates me for my troubleshooting and consulting time. To this point, it's about 3 hours of my time, and my rate is $100/hour.
Now I'm a pretty realistic person, and I know darn well that my ideal resolution will not come to fruition.
Let's just say I'm pretty angry by this, and I'm angry at AT&T. I am convinced that their methodology for installing UVerse in the least costly manner for a home network has damaged my in-laws' computer hardware.
I'm willing to bet it has done the same in other installs, as well, although the customer may not have access to someone who understands the technologies involved and the risks of the hardware used.
In my opinion, this is a shoddy business practice.
AT&T is advertising a means of saving money to the consumer by bundling services. That's all well and good, but when the customer is promised a home network and they are provided with risky equipment to use PlugLink to achieve a "home network", they are essentially doing a bait-and-switch type of scam.
I welcome any responses form other customers, AT&T support personnel, installers, technicians, IT pros or average people who have experienced similar problems, specifically with AT&T-provided PlugLink hardware.
If you've read this far, I applaud you. This is definitely in geek-ese, which makes it boring for the layperson.
J C O
06-05-2010 10:10 AM
I have the same or a similar situation. My desktop with the adapter is in the basement and my gateway is in my upstairs bedroom. I have TVs in the living room andI the basement, both connected to U-verse. My desktop internet connection misteriously stopped working. ATT phone tech support initially diagnosed it as an adapter problem and because I have had U-verse for 3 months they can not send me a free one. I will have to buy one.
I am not convinced it is an adapter problem. My neighbor has U-verse and I switched out my adapter for his and it still did not work. Now, armed with your information, I will call ATT and request a technician to come to my home and fix the problem. I refuse to spend any money until they tell me defintely what the issue is.
Also, I have 2 laptops operating fine.
06-07-2010 6:05 AM
I have a wireless laptop with an older wireless card that, when turned on, prevents me from connecting to the internet on a desktop using a pluglink. Presumably some type of signal noise emitting from the old wireless card prevents the pluglink from operating correctly. You may have something similar going on.
06-07-2010 2:59 PM
I have experienced on board LAN failures. I don't think they are unique to your situation. But I don't think they are systematic of AT&T's gear either. If that is a home built PC, and you are sure the LAN port is dead, stick a PCI or whatever matches that PCs mobo LAN card in there. They are about $20. That is way faster, cheaper, and more satisfying than anything you will get chasing AT&T and trying to prove that somehow their gear burnt out your onboard LAN port.
These mobos these days are increasingly cheap, and as a home PC builder, you should be used to defective components. I sure am... Hardware fries. Hard drives die. So Backup. End of story.
09-02-2010 11:03 AM
So, this is what happen to my computer. I so understand your frustrations, and I wish they would go to install school for this service. I can not even sign in to my account, which is nothing new for the last several months and have had trouble signing in. I just wish this work like comcast for hookup with the uverse service.
09-02-2010 12:48 PM
HomePlug data over power systems are optically isolated between the power/carrier side and the Ethernet jack that you host connects to.
It is no more likely to blow out your NIC than any other switch, router, or other directly-connected host.
Maybe you connected / disconnected the Ethernet while power was applied to the host? While it's often done without consequences, it's not a recommended procedure and does put the NIC at risk (as well as the port on the other side).
12-12-2010 8:42 PM
I am a geek techie. I have been using ATT Uverse for over a year. The ATT tech at the bottom is completely wrong.
Everytime we have a power outage at my house (which is often) I have to reconfigure my nic card with the pluglink. On two occasions it has fried my nic card and on some occasions I can just removed it from my hardware configuration and allow it to reinstall on startup and everything will be back working. I personally keep a wireless usb adapter handy just in case. I have tried to put the pluglink behind a safety powerstrip but to no help. ATT you do need to look closely into this issue. I personally would set the main hard line home computer up with a direct cat line.
I do not believe that the pluglink would cause any damage to a computer other than the nic adapter unless you have a completely ungrounded house. If this is the case I would definately have plenty of powerstrips around.
I am a stockholder of ATT and would advise that you always assume the customer is correct until you can prove otherwise.
Uverse is a great concept. I only wish it the best. We have been very happy with our unit but as always when something is new there will always be a break-in period.
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