Verizon FiOS Rocks! ~ Ask The Admin

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Verizon FiOS Rocks!

Take That TimeWarner!

Recently Commodore64 lamented that his ISP, TimeWarner cable had lowered his upload speed to 60k. Well sir, I hope Verizon will be rolling out fiber in your area soon. They were here today to install their FiOS service, and it rocks! As you can see, I am getting significantly faster uploads than TimeWarner provides.

The install was pretty quick and painless (mostly because I did a lot of the hard work ahead of time). The technician ran a molded and pre-cut piece of fiber from the pole to the house. The optical network terminal is mounted inside the house, usually in a basement or garage. He brought the fiber through the outside wall and into our laundry room near the electrical panel.

There were three separate pieces to mount on our cinder block wall, so he placed them all on a piece of plywood to make it easier. The small boxes at the bottom are the power supply (right) and a battery backup unit (left). The battery provides up to 8 hours of phone service during a power failure. He said it powered the phone only, but a simple test showed that it powered the Internet service also. Of course you would need to have your computer and the router on a UPS to maintain your connectivity, but it is technically possible.

The large box at the top contains a lower panel where he coiled the excess fiber. The upper panel is really the heart of the unit. There is a place to plug in the fiber, 4 spaces for phone lines, an Ethernet port for data and a coax port for the TV service.

On the right there are the four spaces for tradition POTS phone lines. The FiOS service is true POTS, not VOIP. That is a piece of Cat 5 running to the old phone NID which some rocket scientist decided to put in our attic. From there it feeds all the house phones. Next to that is an Ethernet port where he plugged in the Cat 6 which I had previously run to where the router was going to be. I decided to run the internal cables myself because the locations were a little complex and I was particular about how their install would look. Utilities tend to take the easiest, cheapest option that technically gets the job done, not necessarily the best looking one for the homeowner. The technician was very happy to use my wiring since it saved him A LOT of time and effort.

On the far right is a coax port for the TV service (which I didn't get at this time). If you already have cable TV service they can use the existing wiring and simply connect it to that port.

After that was all done, it was just a matter of disconnecting our copper phone line and configuring the router. They provided a relatively powerful 4-port wireless G router. It has a lot more options that a typical consumer router including per-port blocking and parental controls, a firewall with an almost endless array of options, and full traffic and bandwidth monitoring.

One very odd thing is that the default wireless encryption is WEP. Get with the program Verizon, WEP has been cracked for years! Defaulting to WEP gives people a false sense of security. In their defense I will point out that the router does support WPA and WPA2, but I can guarantee you that the average user is never going to be able to figure out how to change it to use them. It is buried pretty deep in the interface.

I opened Firefox and you can see the results of the speedtest above. I downloaded a 200 Meg file from in 5 minutes. With a connection this fast you do start to realize the limitations of other connections. I uploaded a file to our FTP server at the office and I was able to completely saturate our T1 (can you say DOS attack?)

The pricing for a 5/2 FiOS connection is the same as what I was paying for Verizon's 3.0/768 DSL service. They offer a 15/2 service which you need to get if you want their TV service.

Overall, I'm very happy with it. The FiOS service is noticeably faster (especially uploads) then the DSL service. More speed for the same price, can't go wrong there. Plus I get geek bragging rights and can say I'm one of the first people in the area to get it.