In this article, we are going to review Verizon FiOS technology, features, plans, installation procedure, availability and short comparisons to other services and products in the market.
FiOS stands for “Fiber Optic Service”. It utilizes a new network of fiber optic cables and systems to provide TV, broadband internet and digital phone services.
Fiber optic systems have been used in telecom systems for a very long time but they mainly served as a backbone for the service providers. Verizon’s FiOS approach brings the advantages, power and the speed of the optic network all the way to the homes (or businesses).
What is fiber optics?
It’s the name of that though course in college for some. Or the name of that giant book. For the consumers however, fiber optic communications is a system that enables accessing to or exchanging data in a much faster way. It is a great advancement over the previous networks such as copper wires and coaxical cable networks. These systems communicated data using electrons through metal wires. Althought it is possible to achieve high speeds using metal wiring, the speeds achieved by the fiber optics is much greater. The materials used by the fiber optic systems consist of a fiber (instead of a metal wire) and the light (instead of the electron). The key to the speed of the fiber optic system lies in the use of light. So, what was the speed of light? The light can travel approximately 300 million metres per second (equals to 186 thousand miles per second) — how fast can your car go? With such a speed, the light travels from the earth to the moon in just 1.3 seconds! [wikipedia]. To take advantage of light’s speed, all the scientists needed to do was to place and transfer it in a media named fiber which is made of glass or plastic. A laser generator transmits the video, data and voice signals as pulses of light using these very thin fiber strands.
For the customers, the use of such a technology means many things: More TV channels with better picture quality. A faster internet service. A home phone with new features. And more functions still waiting to be discovered. It would be unfair to view FiOS just as an upgrade to speeds and improvement to the video quality on TV. FiOS’s launch to the market seems to make promises to change the way people watch and use TV; introducing new features like Widgets, the Media Guide unique to FiOS, Media Manager and more.
Because Verizon FiOS requires access to the new fiber optic network it is not available all around the US yet. It is currently available in New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, California, Florida, Texas, Massachusetts, Indiana, Delaware, Rhode Island and some other states. Use the following link to find out if FiOS is available in your current address: Can you get FiOS TV? Just enter a Verizon home phone number if you have one, or click the “check by address” option and enter your address. Not all services and products are available everywhere (for instance the FiOS Digital Voice addition -the home phone that works truly on the FiOS network- is a new addition and is growing slowly in different regions). So in the opening page Verizon will list which particular products (FiOS TV, FiOS Internet and FiOS Digital Voice or Verizon Freedom) are available in your address.
Installation and Equipment
Verizon FiOS requires a little bit of installation work. The process starts when you place the order. You’ll first be asked to schedule an appointment so that the technicians come to your house or apartment to install the equipment, do the wiring and demonstrate the use of FiOS. This may take long hours (make at least 4 hrs. according to Verizon – may even take the whole day in some cases) so be advised. The technicians will need to install a special box to the building -the Optical Network Terminal (ONT)- so that it reads the optical pulses. In one end, the optic cables from the closest fiber terminal will enter this ONT box. On its other end, a coaxial cable will leave the ONT and connect to the existing coax cabling in your home. Now the set top box is ready to be hooked up between the coax outlet and your TV. The technician will test the system, demonstrate the use, answer your questions and you are ready to enjoy FiOS.
The universal remote control allows access to different FiOS functions such Media Guide, Widgets, DVR, On Demand with reserved buttons for each. Also it will allow you to control other devices such as your TV and DVD Player. So FiOS puts an end to the multiple remote mess if your set top box comes with one.
Arris Video Media Server VMS1100 / IP Client IPC1100
VMS1100 is the main box and supports up to 5 IP Client boxes for multiple rooms. Provides all of the latest features such as pause in one room, carry on in another room, smartphone support etc… With its 1TB torage, you may record up to 6 channels at the same time totaling 100 hours of HD content with FiOS Quantum TV Enhanced service.[coupons store=”verizon-fios” limit=”10″ orderby=”date” order=”DESC”]
If a receiver is not desired, a digital adapter can be selected at no cost during online ordering – but no HD channels there, only SD. There are a few other receivers which are probably old now so I’m keeping them for reference only.
SD Receiver (Motorola 2500)
SD: The most basic FiOS receiver. It allows you to watch all digital channels with Standard Definition. Can not display HD content. Best choice if you have a 4:3 CRT television.
HD Receiver (Motorola 7100)
SD + HD: This receiver is capable of displaying both SD and HD channels. It does not have a DVR capability though. Best if you have an LCD or a Plasma television with HDTV feature.
DVR (Motorola 7200)
SD + HD + DVR: In addition to the Motorola 7100 model’s capabilities, it features Digital Video Recording (DVR) capability. It has a built-in hard disk that can store up to 80 hours of SD or 20 hours of HD quality shows. It also contains Dual Tuners that allows you to record two different shows at the same time. While this is happening you can watch another previously recorded show. Would be a great choice if you do a lot of recording and especially if you have your library full of VHS casettes and you are tired of (trying to) organize them, this might be a modern digital solution for you.
Home Media DVR (Motorola 7216)
SD + HD + Multi-room DVR: Used to be the full featured FiOS Receiver before the ARRIS VMS. It is a multi-room DVR: Let’s say you have recorded many shows earlier. When you have one of these receivers in your house, 3 different person can watch 3 different shows in 3 different televisions. Similar to the Motorola 7200 DVR model, the total hours of recording is 80 hours of SD and 20 hours of HD content. You can also do nice things with the DVR like pausing the show in one room, go to another room and resume the same show from where you left off. This feature is especially useful when you are watching something (let’s say) in your bedroom and need to go to the kitchen to cook but you don’t want your fun time disturbed. Without the multi-room DVR, we would have to lease a seperate DVR for each room we want to watch recorded shows or just have to live with no DVR functionality. This box connects them all and stores all recordings at one place.
FiOS Mobile App
Verizon has an iOS app on Apple Store for iPad and iPhone and also Android app on Google Play and a Kindle Fire app where you can watch live TV and access On-Demand content right on your smart phone or tablet.
Enjoy Live TV at home and on the go*. Quantum TV users can enjoy every channel in-home right on their Fios Mobile app!
· Stream your DVR content while home or away.* (Fios Quantum TV and Internet required)
· Access thousands of Fios On Demand titles
· Download premium content from select channels or any rental or purchase to your mobile device and watch offline.
· Schedule and delete DVR recordings
· Use your compatible mobile device as a remote control^ when watching TV at home ( requires use of Fios router and HD Set Top box)
· Speak to Fios Mobile! Just hit the mic icon in the search bar and find content by speaking naturally.
The most basic programming package is FiOS Essentials, including over 250 channels (locals included) and up to 14 HD channels. Extreme HD package comes next with more HD channels and sports packages. On top of the base plan, FiOS offers HBO, Cinemax or Movie subscription or a combination of these with an additional charge. Similarly, sports packages like MLB, MLS or NHL are available for sports fans. FiOS also takes the international community into account and offers premium international channels broadcasting in a variety of languages.
IMG (Interactive Media Guide)
IMG is probably one of the best value added to the customer experience in FiOS TV. Almost all digital receivers (including those of the Verizon’s competitors) have their Programming Guides; it is a must. However the Media Guide designed for FiOS proves it’s difference from the others by just looking at it once. The most noticeable difference from other guides is that the channels will show with their logos on the side. This is very enjoyable because television is all about entertainment and while we’re zapping through the channel list we would otherwise have to read the channel’s name as text, our brain would decode what we read and then we would decide if that channel is what we are looking for or not. Here is another example: If you are an IM (Instant Messaging) person using MSN, Live Messenger, Yahoo Messenger etc. you will probably remember the earlier versions of these softwares. They only had the name of the person in your contact list. Then they added a small picture of your contact right beside the name. This demonstrated a better experience to most people. In the case of FiOS, it allows identifying the channels and removes the glitch from the middle of our entertainment.
Widgets are small add-ons that show up on your FiOS TV. You may check the local weather and traffic info, daily horoscopes, news headlines and see how your favorite team is doing. You don’t need to close the program you’re watching to use the widgets. They just appear on the side of the screen. NEW! Facebook and Twitter widgets are now on FiOS TV!
Media Manager is a software that installs to your desktop PC or laptop at home. It runs in your computer and allows you to access your media files (all photo and music files – soon there will be video streaming too) from your FiOS TV. Let’s say you take pictures of your kids, your sports activities with your camera and store them in your PC. One day you have guests at home and you would like to show them the pictures. Normally you would either ask everybody to stand up and walk into the room where the desktop computer is or little more luckily than that you may just bring your laptop to the living room and show it on a 17 inch display while your 42 inch LCD TV sits in the corner turned off. FiOS Media Manager can tie your computer to your TV and display those pictures as a slide show on your TV and you can even add music to the background.
Video On Demand
Verizon FiOS provides 130,000 On Demand movies and shows (as of Nov 2015). There is an On Demand button on the remote reserved for quick access to the titles. The number of available titles is a bit huge so there is a search option on the On demand menu which you can use to narrow down the list. “What’s Hot” shows you what people are watching most near by.
The popular shows on TV or popular on Demand titles people are watching in the neighborhood.
While checking the programming deals and offers, most of the time you will see that the offer is valid for orders placed online through the company website. The reason for this is simple: it helps the company to reduce the overall price of the service you are about to purchase. Online ordering decreases the chances of communicating a wrong or misspelled address, your personal information and any other detail. You will know every detail about the offer because it will be clearly described on the web page. While you are filling out the forms you can communicate with a Verizon agent using the live chat option for any questions or concerns.
Verizon ordering process works as follows: The customer enters their VZ phone number or full address on the address boxes and submits the form. Then Verizon will perform an address check to see if the desired service (FiOS TV, FiOS Internet, Phone) is available at your address. If FiOS is available then you will be able to select and customize your service, the prices will be shown on the sidebar. At this stage you will also choose the set top box you want to use (SD, HD, DVR, Home Media DVR) -the lease charges will be listed for each. For FiOS TV, installation of up to 3 TV sets is FREE on the existing outlets. Finally you can review the order and checkout.
This article was a review of Verizon FiOS, its technology, features, current deals for digital phone, TV, internet and online ordering process. Hope you find these reviews helpful. Please feel free to share your experiences you’ve had with FiOS in the comments.