Switched to FiOS - Initial Impressions

bicker

DTVUSA Member
#1
Micca said:
Hey Bicker, would love a review of your FIOS service after you have some time with it.:)
Okay, Part 1. (I'll post another update after a month, I suppose.) This will be mostly my impressions of Verizon's FiOS roll-out, my sales experience, my install experience, and my initial impressions after a day or so.

As some others have related, there was a bit of a wait for FiOS to come to town. That's not unexpected. They're not obligated to deploy this their most advanced service everywhere all at once. However, after the fiber was run past my home, I started pursuing the issue of when connection options would be made available to me. I made first contact with Verizon on August 31, 2007, and followed-up (almost all to our local area's engineer -- not just the customer support people) on April 7, 2008, May 12, May 29, June 5, August 12, and November 25 before finally getting a call back on December 5 informing me that we could now order service.

The online sales order system is a bit limited. Specifically, it would not allow me to order CableCARDs online, and indeed forced me to order an HD STB (because I wanted the HD service package). This required me to make a telephone call to fix the order (which kind-of defeats the point of having an online ordering system), removing the HD STB and adding the two CableCARDs I needed. In subsequent communications, and in the online order review page, what was actually ordered was never accurate, either showing the canceled HD STB, not showing CableCARDs, or not showing that two CableCARDs were ordered. (The records on Verizon's side were accurate, the two times I called in to check.)

The customer service folks are reasonably helpful, once you get in touch with them (at least with regard to checking up on the installation order), but getting in touch with them is extremely problematic. On three separate occasions, both the business office telephone number and the FiOS customer service telephone number forwarded me to the "Our office is closed; please call back on the next business day" message, during Verizon business hours. Also, they sent the email asking me to confirm the order and installation appointment, or to call in to address problems, at 5:20AM on a company holiday, with my installation appointment scheduled for a time before their business office was supposed to be open again. Essentially, they said, "Call us before XXX," but they were not in their offices before XXX. A call left on the customer advocate's voice mail was not returned until after my installation was more than 3/4 completed.

All my initial concerns about placement of the router were unfounded. The installer put the router exactly where I wanted it, in my loft, and my new HSI service was up and running. I was able to just plug in my secondary router from my Comcast configuration, after simply reconfiguring the DHCP server on the FiOS router to assign only a limited set of IPs (leaving the rest for static IPs for my secondary router and the other devices in my LAN). The router software is easier to use than I thought it would be, and I even managed to out-smart myself resulting in big problems getting my port forwarding working like it had been with Comcast, but that was mostly because I did a bunch of things that looked similar to what I did with my primary router with Comcast, which are simply not necessary with Verizon's router. It's all working now.

I did have a hard time getting Verizon's router to automatically assign certain IPs to certain devices (by MAC address), like I had done with my old primary router. I'm not even sure that there is a way to do it. In the end, I went to each device in turn, that allowed me to do so, and told them not to use DHCP, and just set their static IPs manually. However, I do have one device (my printer) which requires DHCP, and yet I need to be able to refer to it reliably by IP address (in the printer driver config). I think this is mostly HP's fault, though, for not providing an obvious way to have it assert a specific IP address, relying on the router to always assign it the same one.

I haven't noted a really significant improvement in speed, though. I went from Comcast's 15/5 service to FiOS' 20/15 service, and it is only a marginal improvement as far as I can tell (even after running FiOS' optimizer). That was the main advantage we were hoping to capitalize on, so that's a little disappointing.

Telephone service, itself, was pretty-much unaffected. However, the installer screwed up. He disconnected the alarm system without paying attention to how it was wired up. When he reconnected it, he didn't put it back the way it was, and within an hour it started going off, and reporting a failure-to-communicate error. It also would fail to report the alarm if the trespasser simply picked up the telephone. The installer had no idea what he had done wrong, despite the alarm company trying to explain it to him. (The way alarm systems work, when configured properly, is that the telephone line goes through the alarm system, so that when the alarm is tripped, the system can take over the telephone line and make the call. What the installer did was bypass the alarm system. Instead of being wired
A -> B -> C​
he wired it
A -> C
B -> C​
The alarm company came out and fixed the error -- $165 later. I just heard from the Verizon foreman who agreed to reimburse me for the bill.

I think we're supposed to have voice mail, but I haven't set it up. (I actually don't know how -- the installer gave me a welcome package I'll have to read through.) Our existing Ring-Mate service, though, came through just fine. We're happy about that.

Finally, television: Right off the bat, I lose something: My TiVo S1, which I've been using happily, just like an old VCR, for about 10 years, is not compatible with FiOS in any way, shape, or form. I simply have to take it out of service. My TiVo S2 used to be able to record directly from the cable, using its own tuner. However, in October, Comcast severely limited the number of channels that my TiVo S2 could access (which, incidentally, was actually what changed the Comcast versus FiOS decision from "slightly in Comcast's favor" to "slightly in FiOS' favor"). With FiOS, my TiVo S2, just like my TiVo S1, cannot access any channels from the cable directly, but it can control a FiOS DTA via IR remotes. Given how much trouble I had trying to get the IR remotes to work five years ago, when I tried this with an old Comcast STB, I'm pretty impressed with how successful the TiVo S2 seems to be, using the FiOS DTA as its source for cable. And, of course, we get hundreds of channels now, available to us this way, whereas even at its best, our TiVo S2 could only get 50 or 60 channels from Comcast.

The installer did bring two CableCARDs, which is what my TiVo S3 needs. (It won't work as a dual-tuner DVR with one CableCARD, even if it is a M-card.) There was some problem with one of the CableCARDs, but he resolved it with his little laptop and a quick phone call, before I even realized there was a problem. (I was inserting the first CableCARD into the TiVo S3, and waiting for the TiVo to digest it.) In remarkably little time, the CableCARDs were installed and properly authorized, and I had all the channels I was paying for. Picture quality and signal reliability seem to be very good, though not really better than Comcast -- however, note that I have had great quality and reliability with Comcast in this regard, for a couple of years. What will be a really good test, though, in terms of picture quality, would be A&E or TNT or even USA... if there is any PQ advantage to FiOS, I should see it on those channels. Our first chance to check will be this weekend, when we'll probably watch an episode of White Collar recorded off Comcast and one recorded off FiOS, back-to-back.

A note about the TiVo S3, though this has nothing to do with FiOS specifically. I was pleasantly surprised to see it match up all my Season Passes with the new channel number. I didn't like the idea of having to recreate all 50 Season Passes!

I'm not a big fan of the billions and billions of HD channels. Most of the HD channels that FiOS and DirecTV have had for a while, that Comcast is only just now starting to provide, are utter crap, and hold very little interest for my wife or I. Having said that, we will appreciate WGN America HD, if it provided more reliable access to Legend of the Seeker in HD. (Our local station that shows Legend of the Seeker tends to move it around without updating their program guide data!) The only other channel that FiOS offers that Comcast does not, that has captured my wife's interest, at least, is Veria, though that's not in HD. However, I think there might be others, again SD channels -- not HD, that may capture our attention, and accessible, now, to our TiVo S2. That'll be a plus.

We do have a three month trial for HBO and Cinemax, and it really shows where a lot of the bandwidth is going: 25 HD channels, and even more SD channels, devoted just to those two premiums... I won't count right now, but I bet there over 50 HD channels, and an even larger number of SD channels, which are either premium or on the Sports tier. When we cancel HBO and Cinemax, the advantage of FiOS TV will be seriously undercut.
 

CptlA

DTVUSA Member
#2
I haven't noted a really significant improvement in speed, though. I went from Comcast's 15/5 service to FiOS' 20/15 service, and it is only a marginal improvement as far as I can tell (even after running FiOS' optimizer). That was the main advantage we were hoping to capitalize on, so that's a little disappointing.
No improvement in speed? That is disappointing. Are there any download limits with FiOS? Have you done any download speed tests yet?
 

bicker

DTVUSA Member
#3
I wouldn't say "no improvement" -- the improvement is just not very significant. The speed test shows an increase from about 16Mbps to about 18Mbps, but neither my wife or I note a significant increase.
 

Thomas G

Contributor
#4
I wouldn't say "no improvement" -- the improvement is just not very significant. The speed test shows an increase from about 16Mbps to about 18Mbps, but neither my wife or I note a significant increase.
We noticed similar results after going from dsl to cable. My kids play a few online games and they ran a few tests. Ping times stayed the same but download and upload speeds were 25% better.
 

Piggie

Super Moderator
#5
You have to figure that you reach a point where given your last mile is working perfect, you packet size and windows (not MS windows) are optimized (what the optimizers each ISP tell you to run), are all perfect.

You have now hit the maximum speed of a lot of servers. Other network bottle necks. You get closer to the limit you own computer processes information.

I am a believer that fast is better, but it say you can get much better deal on 12 M DSL compared to say 20 M cable, you just won't see the difference and save your money.

A lot of people can't even see any difference past 3m. Depends what you or they do.
 

MixerD

DTVUSA Rookie
#6
I've been looking to switch to a fiber optic connection for internet for a little more money but it sounds like it may not really be worth it. To the original poster, do you feel overall that the jump to FiOS was not worth it? Did they offer any packages better than the 20/15 one? Also, a more particular question, do they have any rules against running a web server?
 

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