Mar 31, 2008

FIOS Report


Several of you have asked me to report on my FIOS experience. FIOS, for those of you outside the US, is a fiber optic internet/cable TV/phone service from Verizon (a major US carrier) that’s gotten much praise for the quality of the infrastructure and speed of the internet.

Here’s my experience, as a series of bullet points.

SIGN-UP
Verizon made a major push in my area, sending out door-to-door salesmen (mostly college students) to sign people up. They were also offering free 17 inch LCD TVs or $200 gift certificates to Best Buy. Comcast, the entrenched local cable provider seemed to just throw up its hands in defeat and made no attempt at counteroffers.

INSTALLATION
Installation was a little rocky. There were a series of mishaps involving a last minute call from Verizon trying to reschedule, a technician who never showed up and a missing piece of equipment. Plus a lot of time spent on the phone trying to iron everything out. But in the end, the service was installed and everything was up and running by the time I got home from work that day. FULL DISCLOSURE: One of my Twitter followers is a corporate blogger for Verizon and he offered to help smooth out the process. I don’t know much his assistance helped smooth out the rough patches, but there were definitely more rough patches than I would have liked.

USING IT
Verizon FIOS promises “blazing fast internet” and it delivers. My DSL speed, as measured by Speakeasy.net, was about 4000 on download, 2500 on upload. With FIOS, it’s about 14000 on download and 5000 on upload on a wireless connection. More importantly, you can actually feel the difference: sites load faster. There have been a few instances where speed has dropped off considerably, and I'm definitely keeping an eye on that, especially since we're connecting through a Verizon wireless modem and not an Airport.

HDTV
The TV service is also quite good, with clear pictures (no noticeable difference from Comcast HD) and a good range of HD channels. In addition, there’s a robust menu that lets you search both saved, on demand and live shows simultaneously. Right now it’s a bit overwhelming, but I suspect that as I get used to it, it will be useful.

My only complaint about the TV service is that there is no HD On-Demand (which Comcast has a large selection of- both feature films and TV programs) though the FIOS website says that HD On-Demand will be rolled out at some point this year.

All told, so far so good, though I'm keeping an eye out for those times the speed drops off.

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