Helpful Links

HD Compression Here To Stay?


HD Compression Here To Stay?

I thought I was getting unusual amounts of HD compression.  Had a technician come over who ran tests.  Everything came through with flying green colors.  He said the compression is designed so that at the optimal viewing distance of the TV, little to no compression artifacts can be easily made out which is partly true when I stand at the optimal distance for my 46" which is 10.5'.  I sit at my desk which is immediately to the right of the TV.  So I'm up close when working and glancing over at the screen.  The compression artifacts are just awful up close. 

I can understand trying to save on bandwidth but just barely squeezing by for the optimal viewing distance is unsatisfying.  I've been up close in front of my friend's TV which has Comcast hooked up and the picture quality has a "wow" factor.  I don't get that wow factor at all with my AT&T U-Verse picture quality.  I've exhausted optimazing the settings on my TV, trying different cables, ports on the router, and even replacing the box only to get the same picture quality.  Honestly, HD should be provided for free by AT&T.  That's how sub-par the quality is to the competition.

A supervisor on the chat support said that the sales department may be able to increase the bandwidth to get better picture but I think he was giving me the run around.  Sales was closed when he referred me so I'll have to wait until Monday.

After doing some research I've noticed many people have noticed the sub-par HD quality all because of the compression with discussions dating back to 2008.  It looks like AT&T is doing little to nothing to try and improve the picture quality.  Their cabling and hardware is more than capable of delivering clear, crisp HD picture but they choose to bottleneck the bandwidth in order to save money.

If AT&T increased their bandwidth 2x for each HD stream, AT&T would be the best TV service provider by a mile.  The compression artifacts are the only con holding them back from being great.  I consider AT&T U-Verse TV as tolerable.  I hate going over to my friends house now because his HD picture is so clear and crisp.  I was embarrased when he genuinely thought something was wrong with my TV when he noticed how bad the quality was.

AT&T fix this.  It's easy and you'll be king of the crop.

Message 1 of 50

Re: HD Compression Here To Stay?

So in other words I'm crap out of luck for a long time and that AT&T U-Verse TV provides the worst HD picture quality of all providers of the same class?  Great... 

If I lived by myself I would request a drop in simultaneous HD streams just for better picture quality but my mom and siblings are constantly watching and recording things so that isn't an option for me right now.

I'll have to live with it until I'm living on my own.  I just hope AT&T can increase their picture quality by the time I have to choose a TV provider for my own residence because I really like the reliability and features.  The only con of the service is the picture quality.  It should be their number one priority right now, internet should be number two.

Message 31 of 50

Re: HD Compression Here To Stay?

The picture quality has improved over time. In the early days of U-Verse, back in 2007-2008, the quality was much worse than it is now. There was very frequent macroblocking and an annoying 1/2-second-interval "shifting" of background elements that looked horrible.

There has been at least one major adjustment in the configuration of the encoders, and another major replacement of the encoders which occurred in late 2010 or early 2011. Each of these steps has improved picture quality.

If that trend continues, you should see incremental improvements continue, although when and how much is anyone's guess.
Message 32 of 50

Re: HD Compression Here To Stay?

So I got in touch with chat support and the guy took 20 dollars off my already promotioned bill.  So I'm paying 71 bucks a month for 12 months.  I guess that's good compensation for the bad HD picture quality.  I'm not thrilled to look at the picture but for such a low price I can't really complain?

Tags (1)
Message 33 of 50

Re: HD Compression Here To Stay?

Congrats on getting something for the lousy pq. Unfortunately it really doesn't help when you sit down and have to watch a picture that is not very good. U-verse pq has been terrible from day one and it doesn't appear that it will ever equal the pq from many of the other providers.

Tags (1)
Message 34 of 50
ACE - Expert

Re: HD Compression Here To Stay?

I'm glad you got some level of satisfaction, DRN94.


I wonder about the posters who are not U-verse customers who still find the time out of their busy schedule to come by and rag U-verse about HD compression, especially when the forums of their preferred providers (e.g.. Comquat) are littered with those posting about their dissatisfaction with the HD compression on that service.


You makes your choices and you pays your money.


*The views and opinions expressed on this forum are purely my own. Any product claim, statistic, quote, or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider, or party.
Message 35 of 50

Re: HD Compression Here To Stay?

Found out the previous technician charged me $99.  No wonder the guy I talked to was so quick to take off 20 bucks from the bill, they practically made back the difference with the fraudulent charge.  I will remind you that the technicians are obligated to inform the customer what billing will be added to their account, this technician did no such thing.

This morning my DVR experienced connection issues and was shutting itself off and on.  Talked to tier 2 and he had me test the DVR on the coaxial connection rather than the Ethernet and the coaxial connection worked fine.  Tier 2 said it was signal interference on the Ethernet side of things.  He's having a technician come over tomorrow morning to fix it.  After an episode of the signal failing every minute or so the DVR appears to be working.  Tier 2 gave me his email to make sure no billing is applied to my account and that the previous fraudulent bill is taken off as well.

I've had it up to here with AT&T.  The previous technician came to my house, told me I'm sitting too close to the TV as a pathetic excuse to the inferior picture quality, said he couldn't do anything about crosstalk when tier 2 promised me the technician would fix the crosstalk, and then walked out and charged me $99 without informing me like they are obligated to discuss with the consumer. 

I hope I get the same technician tomorrow just to smile and say, "By the way, I took that $99 charge off my bill you gave me.  Nice try."  That condescending technician told me I was standing too close to the TV and he put that in the notes on my account!  You can't deny the difference in picture quality.  I mean it's math and science... MPEG2 at 11-12kbps (Comcast) > MPEG4 at 5-6kbps (AT&T U-Verse). 
Comcast vs. AT&T
I'm done being treated like I'm stupid.  I know what the heck I'm talking about and I'm not too close to my TV.  That has got to be the most insulting and ludicrous excuse for the blatantly inferior HD picture quality AT&T offers.  Both technicians had the same excuse, verbatim: "Well from back here you can't see anything.  Look up the size of your TV and the viewing distance.  You're supposed to be that far away or else you'll see pixelation."

I showed him a BluRay from my computer through HDMI at 1080p that was crystal clear even close up, he said "Oh, that's in 1080p."  Changed my PC output to 1080i, still as clear as can be.  Even played a YouTube video in 720p and it was still clearer and more consistent than AT&T U-Verse's picture quality.  Still the technician was trying to come up with excuses.  Just tell me the picture quality sucks!  Stop sugarcoating!  That technician probably felt dumb and is why he fraudulently charged me $99.

Either way, I've lost all respect for AT&T.  The only person who has come clean and candid with me was the Tier 2 guy I talked to today who will be taking any repair charges off.  He gave me his email and escalated the issue to the previous technician's supervisor who will be calling me after the service tomorrow morning.

The thing that has me most angry is the DVR is now consistently staying on and not freezing like it was earlier now that the chat is over.  All I can say is the thing better stop working while the technician is over because I'm done doing the run around trying to get AT&T's broken equipment to work correctly.  This is becoming a nightmare.  I'm about to lose it.

Message 36 of 50

Re: HD Compression Here To Stay?

Checked UVRealtime and sure enough for the first time it's reading severe errors and blocks needing correction and uncorrected blocks within the last 24 hours. Definitely a connection issue going on. I will show the UVRealtime stats as proof if the DVR is functioning correctly when he comes over tomorrow morning. Saved the screenshot and still have the previous screenshot showing the error table when it was empty.

Message 37 of 50

Re: HD Compression Here To Stay?

Why don't you post your screenshots here (IP Profile, Error Table, and Bitloadoading), so someone here can take a look and maybe give you a direction to point the techs as most of them wouldn't know a bitloading graph from a picture of a pony eating grass. After all, UV Realtime was written by a  forum member and customer (Somejoe) for this purpose (and others).


As far a Uverse being worst in their class. That's a loaded statement, because technically, nobody else is in their class (so, I guess that would make them best in their class also). I'm not aware of any other major provider that uses this delivery method (hybrid fiber/twisted pair) and the delivery method is what determines available bandwith, and thus the required compression rates.


Somejoe is right in that back when Uverse was new, PQ was much worse. I can't attest to the PQ at this point, but in the year that I had it (back in '08), it did incremently improve.




How can you be in two places at once, when your not anywhere at all?
I really want to become a procrastinator, but I keep putting it off.
There are three kinds of people, those that can count, and those that can't.
“Our great democracies still tend to think that a stupid man is more likely to be honest than a clever man, and our politicians take advantage of this prejudice by pretending to be even more stupid than nature has made them." :Bertrand Russell


Message 38 of 50

Re: HD Compression Here To Stay?

I will second what SJ and CJ have said about PQ.  I recently did a test during a football game using our local FOX affiliate.  The Thanksgiving day Dallas game......I started on the Uverse HD channel 1029 and then changed the input on my TV to receive the over the air HD broadcast from my antenna I have hooked up and to me the Uverse picture was superior.  The colors were deeper and richer versus the over the air picture.  This was with my UV STB set to 720p since this is what our Fox affiliate broadcasts their OVA signal at.  Again the Uverse picture was better.


In all fairness, I did use the HD Net test pattern several years ago to calibrate my TV's to the Uverse signal.  Now that the channel has changed to AXS TV do they even do that anymore?  That sure was a good tool and I would think if AT&T put something like that on some stand alone HD channel number allot of people complaining of HD PQ issues could go there to calibrate their TV's and be so much happier.

Message 39 of 50

Re: HD Compression Here To Stay?

Technician came today and apparently some 14,000 people experienced service drops in our area.  Technician swapped out the modem/router with the newer black 2wire.  Checked the connections and ran tests and everything appears to be working as it should.  He also replaced the DVR because he said the DVR shouldn't turn itself off in the case of a signal interference.  Showed him the UVRealtime error logs to confirm the previous block errors and severe communication errors.

But back to the calibration and PQ.  No amount of color gamut, brightness, contrast, and post processing settings on a TV will make up for the detail lost to the starved bitrate.  That being said, the only thing you can do is limit the color range and flatten the contrast to hide the macroblocks a little but not eliminate them at all.  It's really ridiculous that you have to limit your TV's displaying capabilities to cope with sub-par HD PQ.  

My friend has Comcast on a calibrated Sony Bravia and the picture quality is astounding and puts my PQ to shame.  I have a Samsung UN46ES6100 and use professionally calibrated settings posted on a review site and the picture is great with my computer and Xbox 360 but my U-Verse picture quality still sucks.  I know the TV is capable of delivering superb picture because my computer is able to display BluRay movies in their full glory over the same brand and tier of HDMI cable.  No amount of calibration settings, sharpness adjustments, or color dampening will make up for the detail and motion detail lost to the low bitrate.  It'll only attempt to hide the artifacts and take away from the full contrast capability of your TV. 

Compression artifacts are due to not a high enough bitrate to tell the pixels what to display.  AT&T uses MPEG4 which is one of the most advanced compression algorithms out there and they think that's an excuse to starve the bitrate I guess.  All of their broadcasts are downconverted to a 5-6 kbps signal so no amount of distance, loop length, or crosstalk will cause the picture to degrade or get better. It's the same for everyone.

I'm going to email the tier 2 guy tonight who is working billing and he will be taking any and all charges made for repair of my account.  Especially the fraudulent charge made by the second to last technician.  The technician that came out today was superb and I was thoroughly impressed by his work ethic and respect.  He made a good impression for AT&T and has taken some of my distrust and anger away.

This last week has been a nightmare with AT&T.  I'm just glad everything is fixed and that all I need to do is get that $99 dollar charge off my account.  I'll keep my mouth shut about the inferior PQ, I just don't want this run around anymore.

Message 40 of 50

Re: HD Compression Here To Stay?

BeeBeeSA wrote:
In all fairness, I did use the HD Net test pattern several years ago to calibrate my TV's to the Uverse signal.  Now that the channel has changed to AXS TV do they even do that anymore?

They stopped doing it a little more than a year ago - long before it became AxsTV.  Even when they did do it, it was hard to find, as TV listings almost always had it as "Off Air".



Message 41 of 50

Re: HD Compression Here To Stay?

All AT&T needs to do is provide dedicated fiber optic lines for TV.  They should engineer a cheaper more cost effective fiber optic line that is specifically designed to carry just TV programming.  It would allow them to send in excellent HD picture and not eat up the bandwidth used by the internet and phone services.

Just a thought.  Haven't fully educated myself on the practicalities of a fiber optic medium but Verizon FIOS and Google Fiber get great HD picture because of the use of pure fiber optic lines whereas AT&T uses a hybrid of copper and fiber optics.

Message 42 of 50
ACE - Expert

Re: HD Compression Here To Stay?

Fiber provides more bandwidth with fewer issues like crosstalk.  However, it's got its own maintenance and installation issues which makes it more expensive to install.  The copper is already there and has the capacity to carry more signal (using more modern technologies, such as shadow circuits) than it is today.


Verizon quit rolling out FIOS several years ago.  Google is requiring certain subscriber densities and commitments to justify the costs.


*The views and opinions expressed on this forum are purely my own. Any product claim, statistic, quote, or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider, or party.
Message 43 of 50

Re: HD Compression Here To Stay?

Google Fiber is actually a reasonable 2 year contract at $120 dollars a month.  Give you gigabit internet speeds, crystal cleal HD picture, and many practical features such as cloud storage.  They haven't expanded much and it's only experimental but if their business model is good they'd easily have the capacity to expand in the not so distant future.  If worse comes to worse when I start living on my own, I'll just move to a place that offers fiber optics at a reasonable price.

The profit margins of these service providers are fairly large.  AT&T has the capacity to overhaul a lot of their network and to increase the HD stream bitrates.  I hope they think of something soon.  Seems like service providers aren't interested in innovating themselves.  Fiber Optics will only get more affordable to maintain as the hardware kinks are worked out.

Message 44 of 50

Re: HD Compression Here To Stay?

DRN94 wrote:

The profit margins of these service providers are fairly large.  

Humm, what is your source for that statement?  Google Fibers only recently went live for a few homes in the Kansas City area.

Message 45 of 50
Share this topic

Having service trouble? There is an app for that!

Click here to check it out or text myATT to 8758 to download the app. You can quickly and easily resolve your service woes!

Do you need to contact us? Chat with us!

Additional Support