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Verizon FIOS questions
Old 11-11-2009, 10:50 AM   #1
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Verizon FIOS questions

Hello, FIOS subscribers past and present, or thinking about it,

We are considering Verizon's FIOS $99.99 TV/Internet/Phone bundle. I dread dealing with communications providers, and want to be as prepared as possible before calling. Would greatly appreciate advice, input, stories related to the following (I am in the D.C. suburbs, but please feel free to chime in from any location):
1. The offer is $99.99 a month for a year’s contract, plus “taxes and fees.” How much do you pay in “taxes and fees”? From experience, the sales person won’t be able to tell me, because it is “specific to my area,” and I will only find out when I get the bill.
2. How invasive were the Verizon techs? Did they drill big holes in your floors? Can you pick where they drill, or do they tell you how things are going to go?

3. What kind of Internet speed should we expect with the $99.99 bundle? Is it a “basic” speed, that they then try to get you to pay to “upgrade”?

4. What other “upgrades” are necessary before you can actually enjoy the service that was advertised in the flyer ("blinding speed," etc)? Extra FO cable, converters, connectors, etc. that you have to buy?
a. I noticed that there are extra fees for “boxes” for TVs, plus a High Definition broadcasting fee.

5. Do the techs personally hook up your computer and TV in your presence, to ensure the service works with your equipment?

6. How satisfied have you been with customer service?

7. Any tips for dealing with the salesperson on the phone?
Thanks for your help,


If you understood everything I say, you'd be me ~ Miles Davis
'There is only one success – to be able to spend your life in your own way.’ Christopher Morley.
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Old 11-11-2009, 02:11 PM   #2
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It's been awhile, so my info may be stale. Also, for full disclosure, I used to w*rk for those guys (in the FiOS lab). Having said that, I have AT&T for my wireless service, so I'm not a hardcore VZ alumni/groupie.

I had FiOS twice, and would kill to have it now. When they brought it in for me it was during early roll out. I was one of the first on the East Coast to get it. In Arlington, same general vicinity as you. They were very polite, helpful, and tried to be as amenable to your wishes as possible. They got it all working on your computer, although they only worked on a wired computer, not over wireless. I had many dealings with customer support since I was actually the first person in the country to move from a FiOS enabled neighborhood to another one, and transfer the service. THAT was a total fiasco, but they've got that part cleaned up now. They were pretty helpful, but just couldn't get it through the system correctly and permanently.

I assume the $99 package is a lower speed. Used to be 5MB when I got started, but I think it might be 15MB now. That's 15 down, 5 up. I had 30MB, which was the fastest available at the time. Independent speedtests always showed me to be at (or above) the advertised speed. Delays tended to be on the far end. No additional equipment needed. If you want wireless they'll sell you a wireless router, but if you have one already just plug it into the FiOS router and it should work just fine.

TV was pretty good. I switched from Comcast to VZ when it bacame available. I'd say it's pretty much a wash, quality and channel-wise. HD wasn't very available back then, so I can't speak to that. But I'm not a huge TV watcher, so I might be easy to please. And compared with my current provider (Mediacom), either was heaven.

I don't really know much about the phone. As an employee mine was basically free. I suspect you're already a VZ customer if you have a landline, so nothing will change in that part.

As far as taxes and fees, I think they're pretty comparable between cable and VZ in a particular area. So if you have cable now you should be able to get a pretty good idea. Same with converter boxes and DVRs, I think the costs are pretty much comparable. As far as the sales pitch, I'm sure they'll try to upsell you on various things. I would suggest looking through the packages, deciding what you want, and sticking with it when you're on the phone with them. Same deal as anytime you are dealing with salespeople.

Good luck with it. I truly think it's the best deal out there. As I said, I wish I could get it now instead of this horse and buggy cable system I'm stuck with. Hopefully somebody a little more objective will chime in too.

[edit] I forgot the drilling part. They have to put an inside battery backup on the system, so they drilled in through the garage. Tiny hole. They replace the old phone box outside your house with a new ONT (basically the same thing, with upgrades for the internet and TV). They came into my houses through the same hole as the phone and cable lines came in, no significant drilling. I thought they did a pretty decent job. I guess it would depend on where you live and what you've already got, but if you currently have cable and internet and phone there shouldn't be too much of an impact.

"Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement." - Will Rogers
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Old 11-11-2009, 02:22 PM   #3
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No Kidding

- they have sent us at least 100 pcs of US postal mail advertisements touting it. They REALLY want us to get it.

Mike D.
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Old 11-11-2009, 02:35 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by MikeD View Post
- they have sent us at least 100 pcs of US postal mail advertisements touting it. They REALLY want us to get it.
Verizon has the local phone service and the DSL service here, but it will be a cold day down there before FIOS would ever roll our way.
"Hey, for every ten dollars, that's another hour that I have to be in the work place. That's an hour of my life. And my life is a very finite thing. I have only 'x' number of hours left before I'm dead. So how do I want to use these hours of my life? Do I want to use them just spending it on more crap and more stuff, or do I want to start getting a handle on it and using my life more intelligently?" -- Joe Dominguez (1938 - 1997)
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Old 11-11-2009, 06:17 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by MikeD View Post
- they have sent us at least 100 pcs of US postal mail advertisements touting it. They REALLY want us to get it.

Mike D.
For what seems like years we seem to get at least one mailing almost every week. It must be very profitable for them.
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Old 11-11-2009, 11:17 PM   #6
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FIOS entered my neighborhood a couple years ago. The communication methods have evolved since then. Originally, the ONT (Optical Network Terminal) sent data to/from your computer via Cat5 cable. But with the Triple-Play (internet, telephone, TV) they have changed the method. I'll describe the new way:

The ONT is almost always mounted near the electric meter/electrical service entrance, so they can connect their ONT's ground wire to the outside of the meter box.
Fiber is plowed into the ground using a sod splitter from the handbox to the ONT.
The output of the ONT is one coax which is for TV+internet, and regular telephone twisted pair for your phone. The coax needs to go to near each TV, to a set-top box. The set-top box then drives your TV. The coax also goes to a Verizon-supplied specialized router.

The Router supports both wireless and 100BaseT Cat5 connections to your computer. Most of my neighbors just go with wireless to their PC. I don't, I use Cat5 and I turned off the wireless function. I think the installers like the wireless, since that means less wires to run for them.

If you presently have coax from outside (like cable TV or satellite dish), that coax can be re-used to get to the TV if the coax outside is near the electric meter (mine was).
I did not want someone stapling coax around the outside of my house (really tacky!) to get over near my computer, so I pre-ran some wires before install.

I ran my own high-quality (DBS-quality) RG-6U coax from Home Depot from a hole I drilled in the soffit panel above where the ONT would go, across an attic that is like a moonscape, then down a interior wall and out by my computer. So when the installer arrived. I briefed him on what I had done. He connected the coax output of the ONT to a splitter he supplied, that he mounted on the underside of the soffit panel outside. One output of the splitter connects into the ex-cable TV cable (which goes over to my TV) which now goes to the new set-top box. The other output of the splitter goes to the new coax I ran. He cut the end of the coax and installed a connector on it. In the house, he cut the coax I had running out of the wall, and put a connector on it, it connects to the router he brought.

So that describes the internet and TV part of it. Now onto the phone:

The twisted-pair wire connection to your phone(s) is via the Demarc box. The Demarc(ation) box is the network phone box on the outside of your house. It is the demarcation point between what the phone co. owns, and your inside wiring, that you own. My Demarc box was a long way from the ONT, and here again I didn't want wire stapled all over the outside of my house to get over to the Demarc box. So I pre-installed twisted-pair exterior-grade phone wire (also from Home Depot) from near the ONT, up into attic, across attic, and out through a hole in the soffit panel above the Demarc box. It was a simple job for the installer to cut and strip the wire to make the connections at both ends.

Last part - Power. He drilled a small hole through the house wall by the ONT. Feeding through that hole was the power wiring for the ONT. A battery box with status indicators was mounted on the interior wall, and a power supply mounted directly below it on the wall. The power supply has a 120 volt AC plug to plug into a nearby outlet. The local battery is the customers responsibility to replace over the years. The battery provides 8 hours of phone if AC power goes out. As I found out, that is 8 hours total at best, NOT 8 hours of talk time. We lost power in a storm, and 8 hours later FIOS phone was dead. Cellphone was the only way to communicate, and recharged cellphone via car charger.

There is something like a 25 foot maximum limit to the power wiring from the battery box to the ONT. My power wiring is less than 2 feet long.

The installer was great. He did good work, and really appreciated how much work I had done. He checked signal levels first, then made sure everything worked, internet, TV, phone. He would spend as much time as needed to get the customer up and running. I had no complaint whatsoever about the installer I got.

But the rest of Verizon, like Customer Service... abysmal. I won't go into all the details of how inept they are. They couldn't schedule their own people right, their own fiber crews, etc. etc. one screw-up after another. Phone contact with them is hopeless. I actually think it is easier to deal with the federal government, than with Verizon. They should take that as the ultimate slap in the face. Then they should be replaced with monkeys.

As far as FIOS itself, the internet is good, the phone (when we have power) is good, the TV is good, but I sometimes notice that the picture pixellates and drops sound occasionally. The set-top boxes seem to take forever to change channels, seconds go by muted, with no sound or picture, then picture comes back, then sound. Need to have new set-top boxes randomly designed by monkeys, I think.
-- Telly, the D-I-Y guy --
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Old 11-12-2009, 06:51 AM   #7
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I was all set to get Vios so I asked around and no one recommened it . All the people who had it switched back due to picture quality or customer service .
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Old 11-12-2009, 04:06 PM   #8
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We have 2 choices for triple-service: FIOS or COMCAST. (There is no DSL service in our neighborhood). Each is infamous for customer service. So you pays your $$ and takes your Hobson's choice.
If you understood everything I say, you'd be me ~ Miles Davis
'There is only one success – to be able to spend your life in your own way.’ Christopher Morley.
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Old 11-13-2009, 05:21 AM   #9
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I think it cost me about 123 a month with a dvr box and a regular box tax included.
I got the 99 package about two years ago, but I believe they may charge more now to rent the boxes. Happy with tv quality and internet speed. If your power should go out you have 8 hours of battery power for the phone,an old princess phone if you kept one.
Satisified so far.
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