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Do You Really Need FiOS?
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August 01, 2008 | by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
When it comes to bandwidth, more is always better. But depending on your needs, Verizon’s fiber pipes may be overkill.
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Posted by Jay  on  08/01  at  10:10 AM

Wow, this article fails to mention some of the most important differences between services: Latency and upload speeds.
It’s about much more than just download speeds. Have you ever tried to RDP in to your desktop at home over a cable connection with lots of latency?? No matter how fast the connection is, it just doesn’t work well. I slower DSL connection may work much better. This is one of the great things about FIOS. The latency times are very small. 2-way application work extremely well.

Posted by North  on  08/01  at  10:12 AM

After having Comcast internet for quite a few years and having FIOS now for close to two years…

FIOS has clearly been better at everything. No more cable outages, cable modem not playing right with the router, no more lousy upload speed, etc.

FIOS is the way to go if its available.

Posted by Jeff W  on  08/01  at  10:19 AM

This article was focused on surfing and downloading.  I could do a whole other article on latency, working remotely, VPN, etc, with appropriate recommendations.
And if your COMCAST connection is flaky, have you tried complaining? and if they blew you off, did you try complaining to your municipality?  COMCAST’s front-line help is as bad as any other, but their mgt. do want happy customers (hmmm, another article here too 8-})
/j

Posted by Mitchell Arthur  on  08/01  at  10:59 AM

To me the answer is simply “Yes!” you do want FiOs.  Verizon’s FTTH service is far better than anything delivered by any Cable Company period.  Fire your cable company the first chance you get.

Lets look at the infrastructure layer first the fiber in your telco closet; un-matched.  The migration path for the fiber is endless. For example let say hypothetically that the FiOs network is reaching capacity what will VZ do? Spend another 10 Billion and deploy a a new network? The is answer no, all they have to do is swap out the Network Interface Device (NID) with one that has more capacity or one with a DWDM (Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing) device on board and take a single fiber pair carve up the waves of light.  Currently DWDM technology can deliver 400Gb/s on a single fiber strand.  That’s equivalent to 160 2.5G/s OC-48’s in your basement.  Limitless bandwidth…

No we look at Verizon’s network layer specifically it’s internet capabilities.  Globally, Verizon has the most reaching physical network in the world.  Remember VZ now owns all of its competitors on the local side of it’s business the old CLEC’s like MFS, Brooks Fiber etc.. VZ picked up the old WorldCom/MCI network which provided Verizon with some very interesting network assets. Like Uunet…the grand-daddy of the internet. When Jeff speaks about “backhaul” to the internet in his article he’s forgetting one important thing; much like Al Gore VZ is the internet.  They own and operate the largest internet backbone on earth. So When your FiOs connection jumps onto the internet backbone at your local CO (Central Office) they hand that connection over to themselves.  If network capacity becomes an issue go back to step one, increase their own capacity.

Statistical multiplexing is not a bad thing at all and it’s inference in this article might be viewed as a negative.  Statistical multiplexing is used on every backbone network in the world it provides link utilization improvement for a more efficient network.  This all happens at the switching layer of networks where data is packetized into small cells and sent asynchronously on a first come first served basis across networks.

To me the deficiency or physical limitations of the HFC Hybrid Fiber Coax are reason alone to fire the cable company.  With the current network architecture there is no way the cable company can compete in the long run without an overbuild.  But that’s a good thing for the consumer.

The evil angle for me is not the love of Verizon or their network,  it’s the glass.  Having that fiber terminated in my home will allow for me the “consumer” to have access to all of the future services and technologies that being developed by hundreds of companies.  Those services will ride that fat-pipe into my basement and ultimately VZ will be reduced to my ISP.  I will be able to buy content/services that I want when I want.

Posted by Jeff W  on  08/01  at  11:06 AM

Cable companies also have fat backbones, can increase the capacity of their fiber to the neighborhood, and can allocate extra “channels” to increase internet capacity in the local loop.  Until their loop becomes saturated, stalemate? 8-}

Posted by Bill  on  08/01  at  11:41 AM

To those who have fios in your area are lucky. I really hope Verizon brings Fios to Metro Detroit, because I will be the first customer.

Posted by stuffy  on  08/01  at  11:41 AM

Good summary.  I tend to agree with the following caveat:  HD Programming.  There are rumblings that some cable carriers are adding more HD channels to the computer network channels.  Say, 3 compressed channels instead of 2 less compressed channels, to make up for the lack of bandwidth compared to FIOS.  This results in a slightly degraded HDTV experience.  This isn’t enough to make me jump from my cable to FIOS (compared for features, FIOS is more expensive and the extra internet speed means nothing to me).  But if your raison d’etre is HDTV, then FIOS may win out.

Posted by GWATA  on  08/01  at  12:00 PM

Statistical multiplexing? What the AUTHOR didn’t tell you is it is ANY Internet connection to YOUR house is shared.
Unless you have a direct link to the backbone of Level3 or another Tier 1 provider that costs tens of thousands per month, your connection is shared, at some point. It’s called “networking” and having a “Business Plan”.  Multiplexing isn’t good/bad, it’s Economics.

“When does really high speed matter? In a word: Video.” This is completely untrue.  When really high speed is required is when you have multiple users competing for the same bandwidth.  Think of it like a household of 1 vs. 6 vs. a college dormitory.  The more people you have, the more connections you have going to different parts of the globe, this is when you need more bandwidth.  (This is actually inaccurate, the real need is when you have a high number of connections going to a high number of different sites all requiring high bandwidth. but typical usage has a single person only going to a small number of sites with low to moderate bandwidth needs at a given time, so it’s simpler to look at this as the number of users using the connection simultaneously).

“Unfortunately, making these wishes a reality requires more than the fastest FiOS you can buy. It requires massive servers that can simultaneously provide thousands of streams of high-speed content, and an Internet infrastructure that can provide sufficient bandwidth for all those simultaneous streams.”
Not correct at all.  It can be achieved by using a single server and a few Mbps per channel.  Then a network infrastructure that supports multicast.
100 channels to 100 users or 1 Million users will only use up to 400Mbps on the network. And the single users only uses around 3-4mbps per channel watched.
If 3 televisions in the same house are watching 3 different channels, then that would be about 12Mbps.  (This example uses 720P h.264 encoded programming.)  verizon’s FiOs network did not launch with multicast, but they are working on getting it there as the technology matures in the real world.

Your comparison of streaming radio stations and your description of downloading a HD program are in conflict.  Downloading a HD video file in 5-10 min is NOT streaming, it’s downloading, and downloading is NOT IPTV.  It’s no different than watching a DVD (which is also NOT IPTV).

With the growing desire for individuals to time-shift programming with devices like TiVo and DVRs, an individual or industry can easily use existing broadband connections of any speed to achieve the goal of viewing HD content.  The only contingency is that the slower the speed, the further you are required to time shift.

“For the same price, FiOS may be a safer bet, as the larger raw bandwidth can mitigate many network issues, and put you in a better position to take advantage of future network upgrades”
The same argument could be made for Cable with DOCSIS 3.0 beginning to emerge.

“And if your COMCAST connection is flaky, have you tried complaining?”
I have found that the most effective tactic is to leave.  More than their desire for happy customers, a company responds to losing a customer.  If you’re unhappy, give a competitor a try.  You may like it, or you may not.  If not, you can always go back with a tucked tail.

RE: Mr. Arthur’s comments
Clearly you are upset with your cable provider.  I think we can ALL relate to that.  However; don’t confuse the GPON fiber to your house with Dark Fiber.  The fiber you have CAN NOT provide you (and each of your neighbors) with 400Gbps to your house.  It isn’t the holy grail, it is, in fact, shared as well (at the physical fiber layer), but it’s pretty darn good for now.  Here’s an article that can help explain PON. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive_optical_network

As a side note: Verizon FiOS is NOT the fastest available.  Some of us fortunate individuals have Metro-Ethernet Fiber to our homes.  100Mbps dedicated link to the ISP (Openband Multimedia), which of course is then shared out to THEIR ISP (Level 3).  Sorry Verizon/Comcast… I’m not interested.

Posted by John Nemesh  on  08/01  at  12:24 PM

While I find your technical expertise on this matter is beyond mine, as a current subscriber to FIOS internet service, I can say you are WAY off on your conclusion!

I pay $69.95/mo for a SYMMETRICAL 20Mbps connection (20Mbps download/20Mbps upload) and having had a “Comcastic” experience in the past, I can say that Verizon’s FIOS is far ahead of the competition!  For now, let’s even be generous and forget for the moment that Comcast throttles P2P and is considering network bandwidth caps for everyone.  Lets instead focus on LEGITIMATE non-P2P applications and real-world examples.

First, Comcast CAN’T EVEN OFFER symmetrical data rates!  You are limited to 2Mpbs upload, even on their highest tier of service.  If you are a gamer, or like to upload YouTube videos, this is a significant difference!  My connection is TEN TIMES FASTER than Comcast on uploads!

Second, using consoles, like the XBox 360 and the PlayStation 3, I download videos from their Marketplace.  On XBox, I can download a HIGH DEFINITION video and begin watching in under 30 seconds…this is almost fast enough to be considered true video streaming of high definition!  Likewise, a feature length movie on PSN totalling 7GB (!) was playable after only 10 seconds and continued to play smoothly, with no additional buffering, and downloading completed 40-50 minutes into the movie.

On Comcast the experience was quite different, often re-buffering video several times during playback, and total download time for a feature movie was over 3 hours!

If you try a speed test, Comcast will use “powerboost” technology to “accellerate” your connection, showing 12-16Mbps download.  In reality, you only get this speed for the first few seconds of your downloads, then Comcast will throttle you back…generally to around 3-4Mbps.

Finally, Comcast is unreliable.  I had Comcast for over 2 years, and service was interrupted no less than 5 times during that period.  Outages were usually short, never lasting more than a day.  But they were there and Comcast tech support is a NIGHTMARE!  Verizon’s FIOS I have had now since April and IT HASN’T GONE DOWN ONCE!

Bottom line is FIOS is a VERY capable offering, and THE BEST you can get right now.  If it is available in your area, SIGN UP!  You won’t regret it!

Posted by Jeff Kalman  on  08/01  at  01:59 PM

This article needed more research… 

The problem with cable line “sharing” is not the “sharing” itself but the nature of the sharing.  The cable companies give each Internet cable modem a MAC address and all of the modems on your local branch are operating as a LAN.  This means you receive your local group of users packets and vice versa.  The modem then filters out the packets that have the corresponding MAC address.  This means you can intercept other people’s packets via the cable line in order to reverse engineer their packets.  This could be used by other people on the local branch to discover people’s online habits and/or record their correspondences with other entities online.  This is completely different than the FIOS multiplexing discussed, which ALL companies and the backbones themselves use at multiple levels when framing information for transmission, making the article’s comparison pointless…

Of course, Verizon spying on its customers for the government, is a bigger issue than anything else discussed in the article, but the cable companies were likely doing that also…

Posted by Mitchell Arthur  on  08/01  at  02:21 PM

Spying is mandated by the government..

The 2005 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) states that broadband ISPs and VOIP carriers that connect to public telephone networks must allow wiretap access.

Posted by GWATA  on  08/01  at  05:08 PM

Mr. Kalman,
  I agree, much MUCH more research needed AND a clear indication on what the focus of the topic was.  If it was towards a niche user, that should be stated up front.  I hope EH isn’t forcing content just to have content and make deadlines.  I feel like this article just thrown out to let the masses do the heavy lifting.  Sadly it just creates more confusion to readers.

That aside, with regards to “the nature of the sharing”...
If you read the Wikipedia article I posted below (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive_optical_network), you will understand that the PON technology FiOs employs acts in a similar way.
“due to the absence of switching capabilities, each signal leaving the central office must be broadcast to all users served by that splitter (including to those for whom the signal is not intended).”

Posted by Oscar Salguero  on  08/02  at  09:19 PM

Is there a way to have the fiber optic cable conected straight into a PC card/

why not?

Posted by GWATA  on  08/03  at  02:38 PM

I don’t have FiOs so this is based off of my knowledge of the industry.
It is technically possible to have a PCI/PCIe interface card that the FiOs fiber terminates into, but i doubt we’ll ever see it.
Why?:
1. Services:  There’s more than just Internet access coming through that fiber.  Video and Phone signal needs to be taken out of the light and sent to other devices.
2. Control of the signal:  The reason FiOs/cable/satellite all have set top boxes is so they can control the content/service that you receive.  In the 80s/90s getting a simple filter would unscramble HBO for you.  Older Cable modems are hacked into give higher bandwidths, The satellite cards used to be able to be reprogrammed to allow free service.  Having that box in our house gives them the ability to mitigate a lot of the risk of theft.
3. Support:  It provides a clear line between them and you.  If you have an internal card in your computer and down the road, you run into a problem with accessing the Internet, it gets blurry as to where the problem really is.  Did you install a program, or contract a virus that is diminishing the performance, or is there a problem with the interface card, or is it a service problem?  With a separate box, at an absolute worst case scenario, a tech can come out to your house, plug in a laptop to the box and ensure there is nothing wrong, or identify and troubleshoot if there is a problem with the service.
With the interface card they’d have to pay a more expensive tech to troubleshoot through your computer, and that would probably come after many frustrating support calls.  People are a lot more expensive to have than putting that box at your house.

Posted by Oscar Salguero  on  08/03  at  04:28 PM

Thanks for that savvy response, now I understand why.

thanks

Posted by Dave Brown  on  08/03  at  08:01 PM

A few minor corrections and updates to this article.  First, it talks about “converting one of their 100+ TV channels” to a DOCSIS channel.  Not quite.  A cable HFC system is broken into 6 MHz channels.  One of these channels will fit 1 DOCSIS channel (30 - 40 Mbps), one analog television channel, or around 10 to 12 digital channels.  Digital transmission is more efficient than analog (which is why analog over-the-air broadcasts are being eliminated in 2009).

Also, depending on the cable operator, there can actually be up to 1000 people sharing a DOCSIS channel (250 is specified in the artible), though HFC plant upgrades are rapidly reducing this number.

Finally, cable operators are currently planning an upgrade to a new DOCSIS version called DOCSIS 3.0.  DOCSIS 3.0 allows them to combine multiple (initially 4 channels, more in future DOCSIS channels to provide connections of 100 Mbps or more to each subscriber.  So cable operators will soon be able to offer far faster speeds than those offered today.

Posted by Rob  on  08/03  at  08:42 PM

I’d much rather have the “bottleneck” at their central locations than all over the country so they have less places to upgrade to give more bandwidth to everyone.

Second they claim to not re-compress the video on FIOS TV as they send it to their subscribers, unlike what everyone else is doing.

Last they do not have a monthly upload / download cap on their internet connections so you are free to enjoy those movie download services offered by Sony, Netflix, etc. without having to worry about being disconnected.

Too bad I can’t get it here :(

Posted by RLW  on  09/05  at  02:57 PM

If you do any amount of P2P work, FiOS kills Comcast and the other cable providers.  No upload/download limits and no P2P throttling.  I love the service, had for several years now. 

Verizon’s Tech Support sucks - limited hours, ignorant support personnel,  and getting the right Dept. can be a NIGHTMARE.  And what is up with that GODAWFUL Telephone Menu Robot - hire some folks to answer the phone for God’s sake! You’re a PHONE COMPANY, FIRST AND FOREMOST (Remember Bell Atlantic?)

And I’m about sick and tired of having to show their service personnel how to make a decent cable crimp (no kidding!)  But once the service is up and running properly, it’s a doddle.  And my download speeds for snagging music, movies and such is tremendous.

Once it’s right, you’re gold.  getting it right HAS been problem…

-RW-

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