Growing up I lived in Westerlo New York. No, its not a big town. Yes, that’s the reason you’ve never heard of it. In any case, its way out in the middle of nowhere and to this day large portions of the town can only access the internet via 56k…err, make that 28.8k. As a teenager I spent so many hours waiting for a page to load – I learned to read a book at the same time I was surfing the web (a habit that stays with me to this day).
When I moved to Pennsylvania I experienced what high speed internet was on Philadelphia Biblical University‘s campus. Granted, the speeds weren’t that amazing – but since I worked oftentimes over winter and summer breaks when most of the students were away things cracked along at amazingly fast speeds. The bonded T1’s providing 3 Mbps of internet connectivity.
For a while I moved back to dial-up, until I was hired by Collages.net Inc. Then I moved up to DSL – and through several different providers including Verizon and Speakeasy. This continued until Charity and I bought our current home – and they had just begun FiOS layouts. So we had the FiOS run.
What exactly is FiOS? I’m glad you asked. Lets take a minute to talk about the different types of connectivity one can have:
- Dial-Up – Uses traditional copper lines and communicates via analog signals. At the sender’s end the modem translates everything into analog and then it must be converted back into digital on the receiving. Okay, that’s not the big problem – the real problem is that dial-up operates at 56kbps at its fastest – and that’s slow.
- Cable Modem – Operates over the same lines that the cable video network runs over. Much bigger pipes but everyone in a local area shares the same pipe. If you are the only person or one of a small number using cable, things go fast – but start to build up a lot of users at a local node and internet speeds will begin to deteriorate. Common speeds are around 1-8 Mbps (~1000-8000 Kbps).
- DSL – Runs over traditional phone lines but at much higher speeds than dial-up yet usually at lower speeds than cable’s theoretical maximums. Oftentimes speeds where in the range of 1-2 Mbps.
- FiOS – Uses dedicated fiber run to the individual home, providing exceptional speeds as high as 20-40 Mbps currently (~20,000-40,000 Kbps) and starting at 5 Mbps!
As you can begin to see from the above breakdown of service types (yes, I ignored satellite, ISDN, etc.) – FiOS kicks butt for two reasons. First, it has a dedicated line and second its speed is excellent. Not to say that cable can’t catch up, but it will require significant infrastructure upgrades by the cable providers.
So, anyways, I’ve really enjoyed FiOS and have very few complaints. But, to be fair, I’ll list the issues I’ve encountered with FiOS:
- The technicians who installed my FiOS where telecommunications guys and didn’t really understand how FiOS or the internet in general worked. Verizon has been cross-training these guys, but they are still relative newbies. Perhaps they are better now with two years of experience under their belts.
- Verizon at one point canceled my line due to a billing mistake on their end. Their network did not recognize I had been successfully connected and yet I had internet access, so out of the blue I lost internet connectivity when they decided one day to terminate my connection. They rectified this within 3-5 days.
- Verizon is horrific if you have to call them. Granted, I barely ever have to call for technical support – but if you do, be ready for your patience to be tried. The worst part is the automated phone system. By the time you reach a technician you are ready to strangle someone. The technician’s themselves aren’t bad, though sometimes lack the ability to effectively troubleshoot the issue (I’m a network guy). The worst though is after dialing through their automated system and waiting on hold for 10-15 minutes you receive this message, “We are sorry, all lines are busy. Please call back later.” What?!?!
- They only warranty their routers for a year. If your router dies after that period expect to either pay them a hefty fee (and it will die) or go to Best Buy/Circuit City and pick up a new unit (unfortunately, you’ll need to be a geek to figure out how to configure the router).
Okay, I know those sound like a lot of negatives…But its the best experience I’ve had thus far from an ISP. I’m pleased with the speeds and with the technology. If Verizon could work on the customer service aspect they’d have one killer service.