TV, internet, and phone - higher quality than the cable company and a good price
Sep 24, 2007 (Updated Sep 24, 2007)
This review is for not only Verizon's FiOS high-speed internet, but also their FiOS TV and FiOS phone package. Ive had this for about 4 months now, so I figured Id put some thoughts down to share. It's a long review, but since it's the first one, I figured I'd put more rather than less.
Shortly before my 12-month promotional pricing with a major national cable company ended, a nice Verizon rep knocked on my door and let me know that they had just installed fiberoptic cables in my neighborhood. Despite the fact that I had signed up on verizon.com to be notified of this event, it had slipped through the cracks, so this was a welcome visit. However, despite my interest, I was still hesitant to switch companies since I had phone, internet and TV all with the cable company and figured that everything was working relatively well, so why mess with things. Well, a few weeks later when I got the first bill without the promotional pricing and my monthly bill jumped $50, I decided it might be worth the headache of switching. I gave the cable company a chance to renew my previous plan, but they refused and so the ball was set in motion.
After getting pricing information from Verizon, which ended up being about $20 per month more than I was used to paying, due mostly to various taxes and government fees, this was still way less than what my cable company was proposing to charge. The big thing holding me back was that Verizon sent me mixed messages over whether Id be able to keep my existing phone number, since the cable company owned it. Had it originally been a Verizon number that I had ported over to the cable company, it would have been a non-issue, but since the number originated with the cable company, about 50% of the Verizon reps said I could keep it, and the other 50% said no way. There was a similar mix-up regarding the availability of cable cards for compatible TVs, but after four consecutive phone calls where I documented names and phone extensions where a consistent message was given that they WOULD allow porting of my number as well as provide a cable card, I took the plunge.
The installation took a LONG time about 9 hours
but they had warned me ahead of time that this would be the case. They installed a large panel in my garage (about 18 x 24) which houses all sorts of expensive looking equipment, as well as a battery backup for when the power goes out (unlike traditional phone lines, these require line power from the house which does not stay on indefinitely if power goes out). The service tech was really nice and explained everything he was doing every time I walked by, and then when he was done, he also explained how to reset the battery, how to check the system status, as well as the various TV and internet settings. Verizon even threw in a wireless router combined with the cable modem device, which is nice since it eliminates one device that I have to manage on my own and interface with another system.
After the service tech left, I got to playing with everything. I signed up for a package that includes the digital cable with one HDTV DVR and one HDTV cablecard, 20Mbps/5Mbps internet (download/upload speed), and the highest phone package with caller ID, voicemail, waiting, free long distance, etc.
The TV picture is very good. It is at least as good as it was with the cable company, and the sound is also excellent. I cant say that the picture is really better, but the sound might be. I notice when listening to some of the music channels that it sound richer, like theres more dynamic range. Maybe its just me wanting to hear a difference, but there does seem to be a subtle one. One definite plus is that with the cable company, for whatever reason the screen would get pixilated for a few seconds at a time, maybe 2 or 3 times a night. Since FiOS has been installed this has not happened once. On the downside, the remote control selections take about half a second longer for changing channels and DVR controls. This isnt such a big deal, except when fast forwarding or rewinding at high speeds, its easy to overshoot what you want since theres a little lag between when you hit the button and when the DVR actually responds.
The internet is perhaps the biggest upgrade with this system. I used to have 6Mbps service with the cable company, and testing it showed I could routinely receive around 3-4 Mbps download speeds. For me thats really fine since mostly I surf web pages and dont do a lot of heavy downloading. Now I have 20 Mbps download speeds, and routinely test at around 12-15Mbps, and have even gotten 19.5 Mbps once. For those infrequent downloads where I do transfer a big file, it really is nice
especially for an impatient person like myself. Actually the nicest part of this higher speed is when I connect via VPN to my work, its like Im in the office its so fast, whereas before there was a little lag
not eons, but enough to frustrate.
The phone is just like a regular phone. Its less staticky than my cable company phone, which I attribute to the cable phone being a VoIP phone, where this is fiberoptic (I guess). The features are the same, so its really just the increase in clarity thats nice.
Putting all three of these services together, whats great about FiOS is that each service has its own spectrum of fiberoptic transmission. When you see the commercials and they talk about the ׁ wavelengths of light, thats what they mean one for each service. Therefore, if youre watching HDTV, and on the phone to your mom, and start to download a big file, the three actions are totally independent from one another. With the cable company if I tried to do that, the TV picture might start to pixelate a little, the phone might cut out, or the download might be really slow. This is a huge issue for me since I work from home and routinely connect to a VPN while on a conference call (and sometimes have the Price is Right on in the background). It used to be a big issue, now its not at all.
Ill quickly mention that about 2 weeks after having the service we did have an electrical storm and the GFCI outlet in the garage tripped, and the power to the unit got cut off. Since the components are in the garage, we didnt hear the beeping, and after about 4 hours on battery backup, we noticed the TV signal cut out. The Verizon tech said that the TV would be the first to go, in order to conserve battery power for the phone, so once I noticed that, I went to the garage, reset the GFI outlet, and all was ready to go again on line power.
That was pretty much the extent of the experience Ive had with Verizon FiOS up until a couple weeks ago. I received a promotional offer from the cable company trying to win me back, and since I was already planning to call Verizon customer service to understand my first bill (which I will admit was unnecessarily confusing), I figured Id ask if they would match the free HBO and DVR that the cable company was trying to entice me with. I dont have a contract with Verizon, except for the internet, and wasnt really going to switch back, but figured it would be worth asking. After literally 5 minutes to get my billing question answered, I queried them about the cable company promotion, and whether theyd match it, they transferred me to the retention department where the gentleman I spoke with not only matched the offer from the cable company, he bested it by giving me all the premium movie channels for 12 months. He was so understanding and courteous, it really made me want to stick with Verizon for a long time. In fact, its the reason Im writing this review. He said that Verizon is investing a ton of money into FiOS, and even sending a service tech to someones house for 9 hours is incredibly costly, so they treat their customers as good as they can to keep them on for several years to recoup those costs. He said that they will never treat an existing customer different than someone signing up for the first time, so unlike the cable company, youre always eligible for whatever promotion they have going on. He even gave me his email and cell phone number to contact him if I ever have any future issues. Overall, I couldnt be more pleased with Verizon FiOS. In fact, when my cell phone contract expires in two months, I will probably switch to Verizon Wireless and get a $25 credit and 15% off my monthly service for bundling them together (as well as getting it all on one bill).
Thats it. In case its not apparent from my review, Im very pleased with the quality of the service, the quality of the people, and the price Im paying for my Verizon FiOS TV, internet, and phone. You can check to see if it's available in your area yet at http://www22.verizon.com/content/consumerfios/
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