My House Is In The Tiniest Broadband Dead Zone In Texas

Cliff and his wife recently purchased a house–hooray for them! Strangely, Cliff tells Consumerist, this house exists in a tiny pocket of space and time that their broadband provider of choice, AT&T Uverse, cannot reach. Well, that, or they live in a newly constructed area that doesn’t have the infrastructure for it…even though it should.

My wife and I bought our first home two weeks ago in [redacted], Texas. We are in the middle of a neighborhood that was built in two phases. Phase 1 has access to cable, DSL and AT&T Uverse while phase 2 was built after deregulation here in Texas so it has access to none of those services unless you live close enough to the Uverse installation near the community pool.

For the past 7 days I’ve been trying to get my address validated as being able to receive Uverse service with no success. This doesn’t make any sense to me as every house that shares a property line with ours (including the one across the street) currently has Uverse service. On the AT&T website, our property (less than a fifth of an acre) is a little island of no service.

Do you have any contact information for someone at AT&T that can help? We’d cut bait and go with someone else if that was a good option but the only high speed Internet available to phase 2 properties that can’t get Uverse is line of sight or cellular Internet and both of those options tend to be cost prohibitive and the service is spotty at best.

Try these numbers for AT&T residential executive customer service. If they’re not the correct department, they should be able to help you find it.

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  1. BuyerOfGoods3 says:

    Some parts of Texas are still country. I’m not sure where [redacted] is, but where I am – it’s country. It would behoove you to research any and all amenities you want, before buying your home.
    ((*meanwhile, we’re ditching TV altogether – saves $$ increases time outside!))
    “they live in a newly constructed area that doesn’t have the infrastructure for it…even though it should.”

    • Donathius says:

      Did you read the article? Every house around them that shares their property line has service. It’s just AT&T’s computers saying they don’t get service. They are literally a single lot dead zone.

    • TheCorporateGeek Says Common Sense Is The Key says:

      Good bet this is in the North Texas area around the suburbs of Dallas.
      Nowadays, it pays to check prior to buying what services are available.

    • physics2010 says:

      Lol. Nothing to do with de-reg or anything else. His address just doesn’t exist in the computer, and therefore according to AT&T is outside of its zone.

      From elsewhere on the net…

      This is if you believe Uverse is in your area and think the database or the site uverse.att.com is wrong. You can actually put in a “Address Validation Case” directly with at&t. Follow the directions below.

      To put in a case:

      1. Call 1-888-ATT-2020
      2. Speak to uverse sales
      3. Request a/an “Address Validation Case”
      4. Report which addresses are wanting service and which ones can get it.
      5. If a tech mentioned that you should be able to get uverse mention this too. If not don’t mention it.
      6.In the end you should get a FXXXXXXXX (a F and 8 digits afterwords) type of case number.
      Since these cases take about 1-2 weeks to work it’s best if you wait and contact us back with the case number. Again the case number will be an FXXXXXXXXX type of number.

      We used to be able to do these but due to recent sales and legal issues we cannot no longer directly put these in for customers. However, there is no rule that says customers can’t request these on their own.

      Long story short, we can check the ticket, we just can’t start it! Starting it we need your help for. If the sales agent doesn’t understand or doesn’t want to do it, hang up and find another one. Unfortunately, only sales agents can put in these requests.

      If you need to check a ticket you can either call back at the -2020 number or send an e-mail to helprequest@sbcglobal.net with the FXXXXXXXX (F and 8 digits after) ticket number, and we can check it and let you know. In the subject line please put ticket check

  2. goldilockz says:

    I just want to say I like the Death Star and Tie Fighter pic.

  3. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Does [redacted] mean that Consumerist has not verified the story and is in CYA mode?

    • c!tizen says:

      I was just about to ask that. What is the point of redacting a city? I can understand a particular store or last names and addresses, but come on… a city? The OP put it in his story for a reason.

  4. apple420 says:

    Is wireless service available? It might not be ideal because of bandwidth quotas, but it is an option.

    • Miss Dev (The Beer Sherpa) says:

      “We’d cut bait and go with someone else if that was a good option but the only high speed Internet available to phase 2 properties that can’t get Uverse is line of sight or cellular Internet and both of those options tend to be cost prohibitive and the service is spotty at best.”

      • apple420 says:

        Guess I should have read more closely. I don’t see wireless service being that expensive anywhere. I assume their cell phones work? If they are in an area with cell phone service then wireless internet service should be available. Bandwidth quotas may be an issue, but it would be good for a lot of things.

        • cleephoto says:

          Yes, our cell phones work out here—we could get an air card like my parents have—-out in the country–but that’s more expensive than the awesome cable internet we’ve got now.
          What is crazy is that my parents live out in the middle of nowhere and they have DSL available to them–but we can’t get it in our suburbia neighborhood in a house that’s barely 5 years old.

  5. DanRydell says:

    I don’t know what this has to do with deregulation. Government regulations aren’t forcing AT&T to roll out U-verse, they’re doing it all on their own. The implication is that without the government forcing AT&T to provide service to customers, AT&T will just ignore them. AT&T is CHOOSING to spend billions on their network to provide this service to their customers.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      Or in this case, spending billions to annoy one man and his wife.

      • Xerloq says:

        I can just see the strategy session in the board meeting:
        Chairman: We’re going to spend billions of dollars rolling out broadband internet. Our strategy isn’t complete unless we can annoy someone. How about Cliff in [redacted], Texas. He’s got it coming!

        Seriously, AT&T has nothing against Cliff. It’s just the hierarchy of customer dis-service that exists in most large corporations. It’s in system so it must be true! The system doesn’t lie!

    • Gulliver says:

      He is saying he has no COMPETITOR to go to either
      “Phase 1 has access to cable, DSL and AT&T Uverse while phase 2 was built after deregulation here in Texas so it has access to none of those services “

      He can’t go to the cable company, can’t go to a DSL provider because there is not one.
      This is another thing tea party redencks fail to see in their “get rid of regualtion” zest. Many rural people would have no cable, and would not even have telephone service if the government had not REGULATED it, and forced them, to do it. Yes, adding service to New York City for any service is easy and profitable, because you have millions of people in a small area. What about the areas that have only a 100 or so people in that area? No company would care to go after these customers because there is no economies of scale.

    • GearheadGeek says:

      What this specifically has to do with dereg in Texas is probably the way that cable providers got around the local franchise agreement. They created the concept of a “state franchise” that has MUCH less stringent requirements, and then in the absence of a local franchise they operate under the state regulations and only offer service where they wish to do so. Since the product in question is uverse and not voice service, I’m guessing this is what’s going on.

  6. DanRydell says:

    I think this is just a common problem with new construction. I had a hell of a time getting cable service for my 20 year old house because the previous owner never had cable. Comcast kept insisting that I was in Cablevision territory.

    • DanRydell says:

      Eventually I got connected with a guy in my local Comcast office. The people in the call center weren’t able to do anything, but once I got the number to my local Comcast office (which had previously been a smaller local provider) they knew exactly where I lived and they were able to get the right data into their database.

      • jason in boston says:

        That is usually the way to do it. That or calling the local business account reps. It is just that modern customer service reps just aren’t given the tools to actually get real work done.

  7. Tim says:

    It might help to contact your city/town/county government. They have an agreement with AT&T that allows them to provide service there, and in return, the government has a tiny bit of say over the service. Most agreements say that the provider must provide service to every dwelling in the town upon request.

    I’m not familiar with Texas though, so maybe “deregulation” means that AT&T is not under that requirement.

  8. GearheadGeek says:

    My house was built in 1951, and it’s the youngest house on the street. Every house around me shows as having uverse available including the other 3 houses whose phone lines drop from the same pole that has the (unused) phone line to my house. Mine does not, and no one at AT&T can tell me why. I’m fairly sure the reason is that the previous owner of the house didn’t have AT&T phone service, and I do not, so something in their database hasn’t been updated since they started offering uverse.

    Further research showed that it was a blessing in disguise, my neighbors who do have uverse say that (at least in this part of DFW) it sucks.

    If you can get Clear wireless internet, get that and a satellite dish for your Real Housewives and call it a day.

    • jason in boston says:

      Clear throttles you to .25Mb (yes, slower than dialup) after 8gigs a month.

    • baquwards says:

      clear has nothing that can currently compare to Uverse internet. Uverse TV is pretty good. If you have bad wiring, I can imagine that Uverse could be a problem, but as a service with whole home DVR service and remote dvr programming it is a nice service.

  9. KellerMaverick says:

    I had the same issue in my prior neighborhood in Fort Worth…many neighbors had U-Verse, but I did not qualify. On the AT&T website I didn’t even qualify for DSL, but a phone confirmed that I qualified for their higher speed tiers. The rep told me that my issue with U-Verse could be that the U-Verse “switch” had reached capacity and there was no room to add new customers until AT&T added more “ports”.

    New neighborhood now — I have found that AT&T’s Facebook page is a direct link to their Executive Complaint department, even if you don’t file a complaint. I mentioned that I was not receiving the U-Verse “U-Guide” magazine, and I received a call within a couple of days, and endless follow-ups on my non-issue.

  10. Karita says:

    I have the exact same issue here in Connecticut. The street number was changed a couple of years ago, as a duplex was built next door. Now, even though the people surrounding me all have U-Verse, and there are phone lines running to my house, I cannot get U-Verse, DSL or phone service because I do not exist in the system.

    I had appointments scheduled for installation, but nobody ever showed. I finally gave up after the last attempt – despite me being at home, in the kitchen, by the door, for the entire 12-hour waiting period, I got the following 3 calls in a 4-hour period the next day:

    1. Nobody was home when they showed
    2. They didn’t come because I owed money from an old account (they couldn’t tell me what it was, just that it looked like I might owe something)
    3. My neighborhood is not serviced by AT&T

    U-Verse is a great service once you get through the installation nightmare. (My last experience at my old house was a 4-day saga with 5 technicians.) Home phone would be nice so I can set up my alarm. DSL is a lot cheaper than cable. But I finally gave up, ordered from Comcast, and had that installed the next day. I’d still like to use the alarm system, which worked before the address changed, but without any way to convince them to install phone service, it’s not possible.

    • GearheadGeek says:

      You can probably get a cellular or internet adapter for your alarm panel.

      • Karita says:

        Hmm. I’ll have to look into that – thanks. I’ve never had an alarm before so I’m definitely not familiar with how they work.

  11. Kris R says:

    Contact the Public Utilities Commission of Texas. I just had a serious business internet service issue with AT&T (who, might I add, SUCKS) and reported them to my local PUC. I got a call from AT&T upper management within about three days. Here’s the link to the PUC in Texas:

    http://www.puc.state.tx.us/

    Hope this helps!

  12. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    I know how this guy feels. Comcast’s line ends about 1000 feet down the street from me. Instead of 20Mbps downstream, we’re stuck with Frontier @ 5Mbps – half the price, though, but still.

  13. sixsevenco says:

    This will probably be an unpopular suggestion…

    How friendly are you with your neighbors? Do you trust them? Would they trust you? You could buy a couple of wireless routers (installed with DD-WRT or similar) and share your neighbor’s internet via a wireless bridge…

    Depending on your intended usage, there could be performance and privacy drawbacks to this approach, but if you just want basic email and web, this could work fine…

  14. AngryK9 says:

    I like those tiny pockets of space and time.

  15. Hoss says:

    Dealing with people over the phone isn’t going to help since theyre simply using a computer to determine service. Try to get a linesman out to the property, even if you need to use a few white lies to get them there. Once a linesman sees that lines can be routed easily they can get authorization to do it (after all, it’s one more customer). On the other hand, if there is a logical reason that it cannot be done (i.e., requiring a new utility pole or that service to others would be depleted) they can describe the issue

    If all fails, contact a local elected official as suggested above. You’ll be impressed how much clout political staff has with regulated services.

  16. paladin732 says:

    I actually just purchased a house in North Virginia that was new construction with a similar issue with FiOS

    FiOS INSISTED that my address did not exist, when I assured them it did, I was finally given a direct number to a “network engineer” (which of course was in some other state and had to figure out who I was supposed to talk to in NoVA). Once I got in contact with the engineer he had them add my address to the database and finish it up on thier end… I can now order all service but TV, and I have been promised TV will be finalized by the end of the month

  17. common_sense84 says:

    Dslreports is your rescue here. AT&T techs on there helped me get DSL in 2002 before it was advertised as available. AT&T and other ISPs have official tech support via this forum.

    They will be able to fix this issue pretty quickly.
    The general discussion forum: http://www.dslreports.com/forum/uverse
    And the direct support forum where they will get your issue fixed: http://www.dslreports.com/forum/sbcdirect

  18. RenManAO81 says:

    I had almost the EXACT same problem. I live in a second-floor corner apartment, and the other three corner apartments next to me were all eligible for Uverse. However, I was consistently told that it was not available in mine, despite the fact that I was 43 feet from the ATT signal box (I measured).
    When they attempt to “validate” your home for service they literally just send some sort of signal through the lines, and if it tells them you’re off the grid they just deny service. However, the system is clearly flawed, since in my case I was being told I could get no internet, tv, or phone service despite the fact that I already had stand-alone DSL with ATT.

    The primary reps are no help; don’t even bother with them. I fired off an e-mail to Uverse second tier tech support, and the guy actually sent someone out to my apartment to physically confirm that I was within range of the signal box (43 feet). After that they manually added my address and all was good.

    • RenManAO81 says:

      I should also add that I live in Texas, specifically the DFW area.

    • VermilionSparrow says:

      Hmm, I’m having this same problem with Verizon (corner upstairs apartment, existing DSL service, them saying my address “doesn’t exist” for FiOS), I never could find a way to contact 2nd tier support, though, and I worked for Verizon at the time they installed FiOS in my building.

  19. Brunette Bookworm says:

    Is there an AT&T office near you? If there is you could try going in person and talking to someone about it. In person they can’t not answer you.

  20. MaximusMMIV says:

    I lived in an apartment that had the same issue. The house on my left had it, and the house on my right had it. I didn’t. Of course, the weekend after I moved out, AT&T sent me a notification informing me that service was finally available.

  21. bearymore says:

    We have a similar problem in West Los Angeles, the media capital of the world. We live in an area of about 3 blocks that does not guess FIOS. The entire area around us is served, just not us. About 18 months ago, I was told we should be served 6 months from then – NOT! This is an old established urban area and there is nothing special about our little pocket of streets.

    I really would like to get out from under the yoke of Time Warner and get some decent service like our neighbors around the corner.

  22. VermilionSparrow says:

    My APARTMENT is in a Verizon FiOS dead-zone, despite the fact that my downstairs neighbor and wall-neighbor both have active FiOS service… (in the Dallas area, in a Verizon-monopoly zone)

  23. INsano says:

    Clear has wireless broadband in a number of cities in Texas, not sure if they cover [redacted].

    http://www.clear.com/coverage

    • sven.kirk says:

      I have Clear now. You do not them. Poor customer service, limited hours to call in for support. Newly placed daily caps that are not openly spoken about.

  24. Dyrenia says:

    AT&T uverse is CRAP. Be lucky they cant reach you, itll save you many hours on the phone trying to get their stuff to work. I have uverse and we have to call them every 2-3 days because the internet stops working, and they have no clue how to fix it. Mom called them last night while i was out and stayed on the phone 3 hours trying to get it fixed. When i got home, i got it temporarily working in about 5 minutes.

    AT&T is a waste of money and their customer service reps are dumb as a box of rocks. We’re getting ready to switch back to direcTV. Don’t waste your money on uverse. Easily the worst ‘internet’ I’ve ever had. I’d be more happy with dialup.

  25. cleephoto says:

    Hi, I’m Cliff’s wife. What else he failed to mention about the lack of At&t service is that we are moving from an apartment that is literally around the corner from our new house—2 blocks away, at most.
    We currently have UVerse and have been very happy with it–until now. :(

  26. pot_roast says:

    Sounds like this was not new construction…

    And redacting the city? Really? What a great way to make sure that other people are unable to provide useful information that might help the OP. Excellent plan, guys. *sigh*

  27. Clogtowner says:

    I contacted the chairman by snail mail re: Universe. I received several calls from his staff telling me that Universe is not available in my area and there is no probability of it becoming available during my lifetime despite the incessant local TV advertising. Unfortunately, AT&T do not provide 3G here either.