Fiber Optic Service
Fiber optic service (FiOS) is the relatively new kid on the block, but already it has gained significant momentum. Verizon’s FiOS TV is perhaps the best-known deliverer of TV over fiber. Launched in 2005, 13 states currently have Verizon’s FiOS TV service, thanks to Verizon’s “Fiber to the premises” initiative, which laid miles upon miles of fiber optic lines. Rather than simply bring the fiber to a neighborhood node (as was the case with much of the cable infrastructure), Verizon is making sure that the fiber lines go right to a home’s curbside, which greatly enhances service quality and speed. “We believe that FiOS is the network of the future,” says Sharon Cohen-Hagar, spokesperson for Verizon FiOS TV. “It has the capacity and the bandwidth to carry services that haven’t even been dreamed of.” That capacity and bandwidth provides frighteningly fast download/upload speeds for internet subscribers, un-compressed HD content, and voice-over internet phone service.
FiOS isn’t for everyone, however, and not because you wouldn’t want it. It’s just not available to everyone. The task of brining fiber to a home, neighborhood, or city, requires time and money, which is why Verizon is limited to 13 states, and only portions of those. AT&T’s “U-verse TV” is another digital-television-over-fiber option, but it currently services a mere 120,000 customers, compared to the 27.6 million digital cable subscribers country-wide.
The HD service – good as it may be in quality – isn’t at quite the capacity of FiOS’s cable and satellite competitors. Verizon FiOS TV offers a scant 30 HD channels (give or take depending on location), though the company plans to increase that to around 150 by the end of 2008. The installation process might scare off potential customers, too. In addition to dropping lines from the curb to the home, installers will need to set up a box (usually external to the home), connect the fiber lines and the home’s coaxial lines, and potential test and replace portions of a home’s existing coaxial network to make sure that the quality service promised can be delivered. In all, installation can take anywhere from 3-6 hours.
FiOS Pros and Cons
- Next Generation Network
- Bundled Services
- Fastest Internet Speeds
- Uncompressed HD
- Lack of availability
- Installation time
- Paltry HD offering (though more promised for 2008)
Why Get FiOS?
Because you can. If you can put up with the installation hassle (which is usually free anyway) and the current short supply of HD options, you know you are tapping into the network of the future. Best HD quality, fastest Internet speeds, bundled service – there is a lot to like. If you are one of the lucky ones with fiber-to-YOUR-premises, it is definitely worth looking into.
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Between watching re-runs of the The Jetsons and convincing his Insteon and Z-Wave controls to get along, Ben Hardy is immersed in the world of home automation, home control, and home networking.