First announced back in July 2004, Verizon FiOS couldn’t come to my neighborhood in New York City soon enough. Using fiber-optic connections instead of copper wire to bring telephone service, Internet, and television into the home, FiOS (which stands for Fiber Optic Service) was certainly worth the wait. So was the pain of the installation process and problem solving that followed.
After five hours plus, and a call for a more experienced installer, my FiOS service seemed to be up and running – more or less.
The installation consists of bringing the fiber-optic connection into the home and terminating it in an optical network terminal (ONT), which serves as an interface to inside wiring for telephone, television, and Internet access.
The TV service itself was unquestionably superb, with better picture quality than our cable company (Time-Warner) had ever provided. The multi-room DVR (digital video recorder) system allows you to stream recorded programs (HD and standard) to other TVs in the home. Widgets provide local traffic and weather and local and national news on the top of your screen while your program continues in a slightly smaller size below.
The FiOS Interactive Media Guide has an easy-to-use tabbed interface and allows one to search for words that appear anywhere in the description. I can remotely program my DVR via the Web (or using a Verizon mobile phone). The service features over 100 HD channels, 500 all-digital channels, and 14,000 video-on-demand titles (8,500 are free).
The Internet service is also lightning fast. I consistently measure close to 20 Mbps, about seven times faster than my DSL service ever was. It’s so fast that my partner and I can each watch a different streaming TV show on our respective computers without any problem (with DSL, one show was frequently more than the service could handle).
It was the plain, old telephone service (known in the industry as “POTS”) that turned out to be the big problem. The day after installation, I noticed that many of my calls were not going through; instead, after dialing, I would hear a recording (“We’re sorry, all circuits are busy…”). After weeks of investigation, this turned out to be a software error. I also found that I couldn’t place a call a few times a day; pressing the number pad would simply not break the dial tone. This problem took over two months to resolve.
A few small glitches remain. The remote set-top box loses the connection to the main DVR several times a day and it also has trouble playing recorded programs longer than 30 minutes. In such cases, it loses track of where it is. (Verizon promises a fix for the first problem shortly and that the second problem is being worked on.)
By this time, you are probably wondering if getting FiOS is worth it – and my answer is a resounding “yes.”
The clear sharp television picture and the lightning fast Internet connectivity are simply head-and-shoulders above any other service I have seen and I saved the best for last. Even with faster speed and sharper picture, I’m saving money. A bundle including TV, Internet plus telephone service is $99.99 per month plus taxes and fees (previously I was paying 60% more for inferior service). www.verizon.com/fios
–Jonathan B. Spira is the Editor of Executive Road Warrior and Chief Analyst at Basex, a knowledge economy research firm.