Verizon FiOS: Wikis

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Verizon FiOS is a bundled communications (Internet, telephone, and TV) service, operating over a fiber-optic communications network, that is presently offered in some areas of the United States by Verizon. Verizon has attracted consumer and media attention in the area of broadband Internet access as the first major U.S. carrier to offer fiber to the home/premises. Other service providers currently only use fiber optics deployment to the network backbone and use existing copper or coax infrastructure for the end user. The coverage area is still expanding; however, some areas do not have service or cannot receive TV and phone service because of franchise agreements. As of 2009 the number of homes with FiOS availability was 12.7 million, of which 3.1 million subscribe to the Internet service,[1] and 2.04 million to FiOS TV.[2][3]

As noted in Verizon's trademark, fios is a Gaelic word (Irish: [fʲɪsˠ], Scottish Gaelic: [fis̪]), translated into English as "knowledge."[4]

Contents

Internet access

Internet throughput speeds are highly variable depending upon service area and are affected by such factors as customer location, cost, and services of the competing broadband providers. Available speeds in various areas have been changed with little notice, generally to raise throughput (but also prices in some cases). End customers usually have three or more choices for Internet bandwidth.

  • The lowest bandwidth tier was originally 5 Mbit/s down and 2 Mbit/s up and is now 15 Mbit/s down and 5 Mbit/s up in most areas. (bundled with FiOS TV Prime HD)
  • A second tier is available with 25 Mbit/s download speed and 15 Mbit/s upload speed. (bundled with FiOS TV Extreme HD)
  • A third (or higher) service tier, when available for residential service, provides higher still bandwidth, in some areas reaching 30/15, 35/35 or 50/20 Mbit/s download and upload. (bundled with FiOS TV Ultimate HD)

Television

FiOS TV service tiers include:[5]

  • Prime HD
  • Extreme HD
  • Ultimate HD
  • La Conexión — a Spanish language-oriented plan
  • Local channels only

Additional subscription packages include:[5]

Other features include "widgets" that provide interactive on-screen news and social networking, as well as interactive television, remote DVR, and online video services such as HBO Go.

As of June 2008, Verizon ceased carrying analog television signals in parallel with digital channels.[6]

Telephone

Verizon offers analog POTS over FiOS. The common model optical network terminals have 2 or 4 analog phone jacks.

There have been reports in various markets that Verizon has physically disconnected the copper lines (or the network interface device, necessary for copper-line phone service) at the time that FiOS was installed.[7]

Power outages may affect service availability. Since fiber-optic service does not carry power from the exchange as copper service does, the customer's power is used instead. This means that if there is no electricity at the premises, telephone service will be interrupted. This may be an issue for sites that experience extended power outages that depend on analog phone lines for remote monitoring, alarm systems, and/or emergency calls. Verizon provides a rechargeable battery backup unit free with installation of the service.

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FiOS Digital Voice

FiOS Digital Voice service is currently available only in the states of Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia, Texas and Florida.[8] It currently offers the choice of either an unlimited calling or a per-minute plan.[9]

Availability

While Verizon claims it is expanding its FiOS coverage to all Verizon territories across the United States, there was speculation that they would abandon some markets rather than install FiOS, according to a 2006 article by the Wall Street Journal:[10]

Verizon Communications Inc. is fielding offers for [sale of]...of traditional telephone lines...part of the New York-based phone giant's strategy to delve deeper into the wireless and broadband arenas, while getting out of the traditional phone business in U.S. areas that aren't slated for fiber upgrades...Verizon also has been shopping a package dubbed "GTE North" that comprises about 3.4 million access lines in former GTE Corp. territories in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Michigan.

As of June 30, 2009 FiOS Internet had 3.1 million customers (up 31% in last year), and FiOS TV had 2.5 million customers (up 46% in last year) with FiOS services offered to over 11 million premises nationwide.[11]

Verizon has followed through with some of this speculation, selling landline operations in the markets of Northern New England to FairPoint Communications in 2007. It has been reported that fiber to the premises projects in those markets will be renamed as FAST (Fiber Access Speed Technology).[12] In 2009, Verizon announced an agreement to sell landline operations scattered throughout 14 states in former GTE territories to Frontier Communications.[13] Some of these areas already had FiOS service availability, which Frontier will then be responsible for.

Technical details

FiOS ONT installed in Montclair, New Jersey

Verizon FiOS services are delivered over a Fiber to the premises network using passive optical network technology. Voice, video, and data travel over three wavelengths in the infrared spectrum. To serve a home, a single-mode optical fiber extends from an optical line terminal at a FiOS central office or head end out to the neighborhoods where an optical splitter fans out the same signal on up to 32 fibers, thus serving up to 32 subscribers. At the subscriber's home, an optical network terminal transfers data onto the corresponding copper wiring for phone, video and Internet access.[14]

One of the three wavelength bands is devoted to carrying television channels that are compatible with cable television products. The other two wavelengths are devoted to all other data, one for outbound and the other for inbound data. This includes IPTV, telephone and Internet data.

This allocation of wavelengths adheres to the ITU-T G.983 standard, also known as an ATM Passive optical network (APON). Verizon initially installed slower BPONs but now only installs GPONs specified in the ITU-T G.984 standard. These bands and speeds are:

  • 1310 nm wavelength for upstream data at 155 Mbit/s (1.2 Gbit/s with GPON)
  • 1490 nm for downstream data at 622 Mbit/s (2.4 Gbit/s with GPON)
  • 1550 nm for RF video with 870 MHz of bandwidth

FiOS TV

Unlike AT&T's U-verse product, Verizon's broadcast video service is not IPTV. However, video on demand content and interactive features, such as "widgets" and programing guide data, are delivered over an IPTV-based format. The vast majority of content is provided over a standard broadcast video signal which carries digital QAM content up to 870 MHz. This broadcast content originates from a Super Head-End (SHE), which then sends the signal to a Video Hub Office (VHO) for distribution to FiOS TV customers[15].

At the Optical Network Terminal (ONT) located at the subscriber's home, the RF video is sent over a coaxial connection, typically to a FiOS set-top box that handles both RF and IPTV video. Interactive services such as VOD and widgets are delivered by IP and are only accessible through use of a FiOS set-top box that supports RF as well as IPTV video. Verizon utilizes an IP return path from the set-top box so that subscribers can order pay-per-view events. The FiOS set-top boxes play IPTV only through FiOS delivered via MoCA and not from video sources on the Internet. FiOS's IPTV implementation does not follow cable television formats and conventions for two way television and instead follows the DVB standard.[16]

MoCA is also used by FiOS for streaming video from the FiOS media hub for the home, a role currently filled by Motorola's hybrid QAM/IPTV DVR. There are several limitations to video connectivity in the home via FiOS. Standard definition video may be viewed on any television with a Digital television adapter or clear QAM tuner (limited channels), but High definition content requires HD equipment like a FiOS HD set-top box/DVR or a CableCARD-supporting device.

See also

Notes

  • Marsan, C. D. (2008). Verizon FiOS tech heading to enterprises; Claims new high-speed optical networks slash floor space, electricity needs. Network World, (1). Retrieved on March 8, 2009.
  • Searcey, D. (2006). Telecommunications; Beyond Cable; Beyond DSL: Fiber-optic lines offer connection speeds up to 50 times faster than traditional services; Here's what early users have to say. Wall Street Journal, (R9). Retrieved on March 7, 2009.

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