U-verse down: AT&T's fiberoptic voice customers can't get a dial tone

A nationwide service outage continues to impact customers of AT&T's VoIP-based U-Verse Voice service -- users of its fiber-to-the-home TV and broadband network for phone service as well. Now home-based VoIP phone users are waiting in Internet chat queues numbering hundreds of users long seeking solutions, and at least a few customers are reporting they're waiting on hold from their (working) Verizon Wireless phones.

Users of AT&T's U-talk Peer-to-Peer Forum are being advised to register their complaints with someone named "David" in the company's Tier 2 Technical Support office. This as users in Memphis, Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, and elsewhere continue to report no service, although customers in some metropolitan areas such as Sacramento report service has been restored.

Though there has been no official explanation, customers who have gotten through to support personnel have been advised that the cause is some sort of server outage. That diagnosis would appear to be contradicted by evidence that service has been restored to some areas while still down in others; and also that the outage does not appear to affect TV or broadband service.

In lieu of an official word, news of the service outage was first confirmed by contributors to Broadband Reports, then later broadcast over the Associated Press wire. One form of the AP story reads that AT&T restored service to its customers by 2:45 pm ET Wednesday afternoon. Although the AP story contained a dateline of 5:57 pm CT / 6:57 pm ET Wednesday evening, the story actually ran at around noon Wednesday -- almost three hours prior to the time in which the story reports services were restored.

"Funny how AT&T doesn't communicate with transparency," one U-talk forum commenter noted. "An announcement on their website would go a long way in fostering confidence in their service and their ability to serve their clientele."

AT&T estimated last January that the number of U-verse customers also subscribing to U-verse Voice surpassed the 1 million mark that month; U-verse service itself currently reaches 2 million customers according to AT&T's December 2009 estimates. Today's service outage may give more impetus to a growing number of those 1 million customers who say they may cancel their Voice service, after having planned to pay fixed rates of $25 or $40 per month extra and ending up paying more.

Last week, prior to the service outage, an AT&T U-verse customer reported to the company's forum of having told the carrier's customer representative, "If prices keep going up we will get rid of everything. Our bill has been running $162 and some change. We don't watch that much TV especially this time of year, and with BlackBerrys don't use the home Internet much either. As such, we are finding it hard to part with the money for what we get in return. We are looking into an antenna and setting up a computer with media center as a DVR with Netflix subscription."

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