Remember when 56.6K dial-up modems were the cat's meow? My, how we've grown up in the past couple of decades, and so has Verizon, which just unveiled new FiOS Internet tiers and pricing, culminating in FiOS Quantum with blistering fast downloads (up to 300Mbps) and scorching uploads (up to 65Mbps), which will set you back $210 per month, or $205 per month with a two-year contract.
Replacing physical media with streaming music, movies and more is a wonderful idea, but in order to do it, you need a big, open bandwidth pipe. Nobody's ever watched an HD version of "Mad Men" on a 768kbps connection, after all. Christmas in July came early for cord cutting Verizon FiOS customers; the company plans on increasing users' max download speeds by a factor of two-fold or more, depending on which plan you're currently subscribed to.
Verizon on Monday announced it has gone and tripled the speed of its FiOS service to 150/35 megabits per second (Mbps), making it the fastest mass-market broadband service in the country.
"The new 150/35 Mbps FiOS Internet offer establishes a new benchmark for high-speed Internet in America, and paves the way for a flurry of emerging bandwidth-intensive applications to reach mainstream status," said Eric Bruno, Verizon vice president of product management.
We have to call out Verizon for touting this as a mainstream option, because at $195/month (with a one-year service agreement), the little old lady who lives down the street isn't going to jump on this, nor will most other residents around the block. But for those who do pony up for the fastest Internet service around, Verizon says they will be able to download 20 high-resolution photos (100MB) in less than a five and a half seconds. Uploading those same photos would take less than 23 seconds.
"Our new 150/35 Mbps offer will also support burgeoning bandwidth-intensive applications such as Internet video to TV and PC, 3D TV and movie downloads, high-definition and real-time video conferencing, and online data backup," said Bruno.
In a lot of ways, Verizon's FiOS service has always been about showing off more than it's been about making money. Back in August Verizon proved that again when they created an experimental 1Gbps fiber network in Massachusetts. Now here we are again talking about Verizon's fiber trials. But as DSL Reports tells us, this time they've hit 10Gbps.
The test was done using a pre-release standard XG-PON2 system designed by Alcatel-Lucent. The endpoint of the network was seeing true 10Gb up and downstream connections. This is all well and good, but it's not hitting your street anytime soon. Verizon is still rolling out their 100Mb GPON-based FiOS. The XG-PON2 standard is far from complete as well. XG-PON1 isn't even ratified yet.
Still, it's nice to see this technology exists. It's comforting to know that someday when the rest of our PCs catch up, 10Gb internet may be waiting for us.
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An Oregon newspaper is reporting that Verizon plans to offload its cable and phone operations in Oregon, Washington, and 11 other states so that it can put more focus into its wireless and high-speed Internet ventures.
One of the biggest customers in Verizon's fire sale is Frontier Communications Corp. Frontier will reportedly spend $5.3 billion in stock acquiring Verizon's phone and cable lines in several different markets, almost tripling its size when the deal is complete. There is some concern, however, that Frontier might be getting in over its head, but the company says otherwise.
"We don't feel like we're biting off more than we can chew," said Frontier spokesman Steven Crosby. "It's not like we're going to be getting rid of employees. We're going to be bringing employees with us, 11,000 of them."
The deal will leave Verizon investors with about two-thirds of Frontier's shares, while Frontier will inherit mostly older phone lines.
3D TVs were all the rage at this year’s CES, and now you can buy your very own for about $3000. The content will be harder to come by though. A few providers like DirecTV have announced plans to start 3D broadcasts, but now Verizon is floating their own 3D plans. This is certainly big for the few people that have FiOS TV in their area and actually wants to get a 3D TV.
Verizon’s Shawn Strickland said the new 3D offerings should be available before the holiday season. Strickland seemed concerned about the level of current technology saying, ‘Our goal is to offer a product that has a fully automated HDMI format-switching capability that switches between 2D and 3D, not via ponderous access to the TV's setup menu.” Well, this would be nice, but can they do it? Having a smaller customer base could make them more nimble as this first generation of 3D technology inevitably grows and changes. Any FiOS customers out there? Is this good news, or are you just passing on 3D?
If you were holding out hope that Verizon would run some fiber to your house and save you from the cable company, think again. A Verizon spokesperson has clarified the company’s position on the future of FiOS. Verizon will not be laying any fiber in cities where it is not already underway. They will, however, be continuing to hook up homes and businesses in cities where the rollout has already started.
Verizon is still negotiating for so-called franchise arrangements to begin rollout in some small communities, but called off talks with larger municipalities like Alexandria, VA. The original intention of FiOS was to reach 18 million customers by the end of 2010, and they are likely to reach that goal. We just didn’t think they’d completely stop after that. Still, it isn't surprising given the approximately $1,350 it costs just to get a new customer up and running.
It seems likely that in the midst of the economic downturn, the value proposition became less attractive to Big Red. Adoption slowed as consumers tightened their belts, and Verizon shifted resources to the more lucrative mobile business. AT&T and Qwest are both laying fiber into neighborhoods, but are running copper lines to individual houses. We’d like to hold out hope that fiber may one day find its way into everyone’s home, but we aren’t optimistic for the near term.
Maybe Verizon spokesperson Bobbi Henson thought she was being reassuring, but her recent statement to CNET actually reads like more of a veiled threat. When asked about Verizon’s ongoing handling of illegal file sharing Henson said, “We've cut some people off. We do reserve the right to discontinue service. But we don't throttle bandwidth like Comcast was doing. Verizon does not have bandwidth caps.” Well, as long as they’re not throttling, right?
Verizon seems to have confirmed that multiple warnings for illegal file sharing could result in suspension of service. This policy is very similar to the one heavily favored by the recording industry. The RIAA originally announced their intention to work with ISPs in late 2008. The partnerships seemed not to have materialized, but this may be proof that Verizon has quietly fallen in line with the RIAA.
According to Verizon, the system works much as you’d expect. Content owners troll the p2p networks capturing IP addresses. They forward those along, and Verizon sends out infringement letters. No information was given to indicate how many infringement notices a customer will receive before being cut off. They did not give any information about what a customer can do if they feel they received a notice in error. Verizon claimed repeat offenses were rare, but are they just creating craftier, harder to catch file sharers?
Verizon is in the process of revamping its FiOS bundles. The new packages will include crazy fast 35Mbps symmetrical speeds. This is the sort of internet access that most of us can only dream of. There is, however, a catch. Verizon is also raising the early termination fee from $179 to $360. This mirrors the recent changes to Verizon’s wireless ETF that got the FCC a little upset.
The new “Prime” packages include the aforementioned speedy 35Mbps internet, phone, and TV with 125 HD channels for $140 per month after the promotional period. Bundles with 25Mbps symmetric and 15/5Mbps speeds are available for $125 and $110 per month respectively.
In some ways, the higher ETF makes more sense for FiOS than wireless. Installing fiber into a home is a pricey proposition, and laying all that fiber in the first place is expensive. This probably contributes to the relative scarcity of FiOS. Would you be able to look past the whopping ETF to get this sort of connection? If there’s FiOS in your area, consider yourself lucky that you even have the option.