Verizon FiOS is a bundled Internet access, telephone, and television service which operates over a fiber-optic communications network. It is offered in some areas of the United States by Verizon Communications and Frontier Communications. Verizon was one of the first major U.S. carriers to offer fiber to the home, and received positive ratings from Consumer Reports among cable television and Internet service providers. Other service providers often use fiber optics in the network backbone and existing copper or infrastructure for residential users. Service began in 2005, and networked areas expanded through 2010, although some areas do not have service or cannot receive TV and phone service because of franchise agreements.
Verizon Communications, formed in 2000, announced a television service called FiOS in September 2005 to compete with other television providers. The service first became available for 9,000 customers in Keller, Texas. Verizon aimed to replace copper wires with optical fibers, which would allow greater speed and quality of communication. In 2006, Verizon and Motorola partnered to bring its customers home DVR access, which allowed viewers to record and watch television programs simultaneously. In 2006, The Wall Street Journal speculated:
Verizon Communications Inc. is fielding offers for [sale] ... 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.
In July 2007 Verizon released FiOS 2.0, which enabled customers to use widgets,[clarification needed] allowing for more interactivity of the service. Verizon announced in January 2008 that one million people subscribed to the service. That same year, Verizon FiOS expanded its HD channel selection to over 150 HD channels. Price increases were announced in April 2008, when FiOS was available to (not necessarily subscribed by) 6.5 million households.
In January 2009, FiOS was available to 12.7 million homes, with about 2.5 million subscribing to the Internet service. As of June 2009[update], FiOS Internet had 3.1 million customers. Estimates on December 31, 2009, were 3.4 million Internet customers and 2.86 million for FiOS TV, with availability down to 12.2 million premises.
Verizon announced in March 2010 they were winding down their FiOS expansion, concentrating on completing their network in areas that already had FiOS franchises but were not deploying to new areas, which included the cities of Baltimore and Boston, who had not yet secured municipal franchise agreements. This may violate Verizon's agreements with some municipalities and states, since Verizon has collected revenue to deploy infrastructure upgrades that never occurred.
In April 2010, Verizon announced that three million people were subscribed to Verizon FiOS. In July 2010, estimates were 3.8 million FiOS Internet subscribers and 3.2 million TV subscribers, with availability to 15 million homes. In May 2013, Verizon announced they had passed 18 million homes with FiOS and 5 million customers.
As of September 2013, Verizon FiOS has availability in 16 states. Many of the areas where Verizon FiOS has service are concentrated in the New England, Mid Atlantic, and Pacific regions, as well as Texas, Indiana, and Florida. Verizon FiOS begins its installation in affluent areas and spreads to lower income areas.
As described in 2007, 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 out to the neighborhoods where a passive 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 (ONT) transfers data onto the corresponding in-home copper wiring for phone, video and Internet access. Older FiOS installations mount the ONT inside the house and use Category 5 cable for data and coaxial cable for video, while newer markets mount the ONT outside the house and use Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) protocol for both data and video over a single coaxial cable. Voice service is carried over the existing telephone wires already in the house.
One of the three wavelength bands is devoted to carrying television channels using standard QAM cable television technology. The other two wavelengths are devoted to all other data, one for outbound and the other for inbound data. This includes video on demand, 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 wavelength for downstream data at 622 Mbit/s (2.4 Gbit/s with GPON)
- 1550 nm wavelength for QAM cable television with 870 MHz of bandwidth
The set top box (STB) receives IR code and channel subscription information through the out-of-band (OOB) channel just as other coax or RF-based STB's do. However, guide data, cover art, widgets and other data are sent via IP over the data channels. All upstream OOB requests (or responses) are sent via IP over the data channels. All non-OOB data transactions to or from STB's are carried over the MoCA channels. The MoCA channel is also used to carry out inter-STB transactions (multi-room DVR, synchronization, etc.).
Verizon's broadcast video service is not IPTV (Internet Protocol television), unlike AT&T's U-verse product and CenturyLink's Prism product. However, video on demand content and interactive features, such as widgets and programming guide data, are delivered using IPTV-based technology. The majority of content is provided over a standard broadcast video signal that carries digital QAM content up to 870 MHz. This broadcast content originates from a Super Head-End, which sends the signal to a Video Hub Office for distribution to FiOS TV customers.
From the Optical Network Terminal (ONT) at the subscriber premise, the RF video is delivered with a coaxial connection to typically 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 and a Verizon-supplied router. The router supports multimedia (MOCA) and provides the set-top boxes with programming guides and all SD channels, but high definition content (beyond local HD channels which are in clear QAM) requires HD equipment like a FiOS HD set-top box/DVR or a CableCARD-supporting device, such as TiVo. In 2008, Verizon ceased carrying analog television signals in parallel with digital channels, meaning televisions without a QAM tuner or a set-top digital adapter received no signal.
In early January 2013, Motorola and Verizon teamed up to develop a new Media Server platform named the Motorola Medios+, to help expand the functionality of the conventional set-top box offered by Verizon FiOS. This device is set up to connect to a single TV in one's household for the purpose of recording TV shows or movies. The new FiOS Media Server has the capacity to link to up to four other set-top boxes for the purpose of streaming recorded media to the other boxes. This feature introduces the potential to record a show and watch it on any other TV in one's home. The new FiOS Media server can also record up to six TV shows at the same time. This device also has one terabyte of internal storage which equates to 100 hours of HD content. This device also has the ability to use widgets, including a YouTube widget to help bring internet content to a viewer's TV.
In the summer of 2013, Verizon began 'gating' On Demand content, blocking what was previously 'free' On Demand content to anyone not subscribed to the regular programming. As a result, anyone not signed up for the Extreme HD or Ultimate HD packages lost Free Movies content that was previously accessible.
On September 20, 2013 Verizon FiOS TV subscribers gained the ability to watch several channels over the internet on their mobile devices. Previously FiOS only offered an iPad app that streamed 75 channels of television, but only on a user's home wireless network. As of September the new iOS app supports streaming of BBC America, BBC World News, EPIX, NFL Network, HGTV, DIY, the Tennis Channel, Food Network, and Travel Channel over any internet connection.
FiOS offers several service tiers that are available individually, but are offered at discounts when combined in a bundle. Although all tiers are available nationwide, price varies between markets and some legacy tiers are available only in selected markets. The tiers are distinguished by data transmission speed measured in Mbit/s downstream and upstream.
On June 18, 2012, Verizon announced its newest version of Verizon FiOS called FiOS Quantum. The new release doubled every tier of Verizon FiOS subscriber packages. This release also introduced the 300 Mbit/s download speeds to the available service packages.
In July 2013 Verizon FiOS announced its highest speed tier at 500/100 Mbit/s for home and small businesses. Starting with limited coverage, they hoped to reach all FiOS markets by 2014.
There have been reports in various markets that Verizon physically disconnected the copper lines (or the network interface device, necessary for copper-line phone service) at the time that FiOS was installed, and that Verizon customer service talked customers into upgrading from copper with false promises of no changes in service rates.
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, which powers the ONT for four hours continuously, longer with normal usage, to provide telephone service in the event of a power outage.
FiOS Digital Voice, is not a voice over IP service, but rather an emulation of the old POTS using pulse-code modulation with premium features. The service began in September 2008. FiOS Digital Voice replaced an earlier service called VoiceWing which was launched in 2004 and discontinued in early 2009, shortly after the launch of FiOS Digital Voice. Verizon announced expanded availability for 2009. The expansion took longer than planned, as Verizon continued to lose traditional wireline customers. By June 2010, Digital Voice was available in 11 states (Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, California, Texas, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and Florida) and the District of Columbia. It offers both an unlimited calling and a per-minute plan.
Verizon sold landline operations in the markets of northern New England to FairPoint Communications in March 2008. Fiber to the premises projects in those markets was renamed as FAST (Fiber Access Speed Technology). In June 2010, Verizon sold landline operations scattered throughout 13 states to Frontier Communications. Some of these areas already had FiOS service availability, for which Frontier became responsible.
Products and services offered
As of October 2013, Verizon FiOS offered a number of products that included but are not limited to the following:
- Verizon FIOS Triple Play: TV, Internet, Cable: By bundling packages together, it helps to bring the cost down. If individuals were to pay for each of these services separately it would cost them more money.
- FIOS Video: Product started in December 2012. This is a Video on Demand service.
- Flex View: FIOS customers can enjoy watching any of their programs at anytime or location no matter what device they are using. Another great feature to FIOS Flex View is that customers are allowed to have their own Flex View Library where they can store photos, music and videos. As of October 2013, FIOS Flex View has 2,000 movie titles with the capability of playing them right there at home or on the go. Verizon FiOS is looking to launch a service where one can watch a program where he or she has left off even if that person started to watch on a different device.
- FIOS Quantum: As customers began to download more movies, videos and have multiple devices working at once, this service is able to offer 500 Mbit/s and upload speeds of 100 Mbit/s. To state how quick these new speeds are, customers only need 1.4 minutes to download an 5 GB HD movie or take 8 seconds to upload a 100 MB file. Verizon FIOS aims to deliver these fast Internet speeds to not only certain FIOS areas but to the whole FIOS network across the country. The time frame that Verizon FIOS hopes to achieve this by the end of 2013.
As new technology is developed every year, Verizon FIOS is trying to stay on top of the market by offering FIOS. FIOS is a fiber-optic line that is able to support telephone, television, and Internet. The difference between offering FIOS to the traditional copper line is that fiber-optics are able to offer high mega bits per second. Verizon is not the only company in this industry and has a significant amount of competition. The biggest competition to FIOS are cable companies who are already in the area. Some of these companies include Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Cablevision. Competing with these companies is a tough task because they already have the business in most of their niche areas. For Verizon FIOS, they need to come into these areas and be able to pry away these customers from what is locally offered and show them why they should make the switch over. Since these local companies are making the switch into the telecom industry, Verizon FIOS must be able to offer the best of phone, internet and TV. Not only does Verizon FIOS have pressure from local cable companies, but also from nationally renowned companies. Fending off these companies from clients is a pressing matter because unlike local cable companies, they are on the same level as Verizon FIOS in regards to size, manpower, technology and products. No matter what market place Verizon FIOS tries to penetrate, there will be competition from companies large and small.
While Verizon FiOS has received a great amount of positive feedback since September 2005, there has been criticism of the service. People have criticized the fact that the fiber-optic wires do not work during electric outages, which eliminates the use of the phone during these outages. This has raised a number of safety concerns for Verizon FiOS users when it comes to emergency situations. In 2008, there was concern over the prices of Verizon’s fiber-optic lines, which worried many customers that the price of the service would rise. Other critics argue that Verizon’s spending on their fiber-optic network will be beneficial in the long run, since the network will allow for upgrades and faster Internet speeds.
When Verizon FiOS was first launched in 2005, Verizon’s shares decreased by 4.6% while AT&T rose by 38.7%. Critics argue that Verizon’s low prices could put their fiber-optic network in jeopardy, since the cost of building a fiber-optic network could surpass the return from FiOS sales. While there has been criticism of Verizon FiOS since its launch, there have been many positive reviews of the services. A 2007 report noted the high quality of the service and that subscribers enjoy the fast Internet speeds and high quality HD channels.
- AT&T U-verse
- Bell Fibe TV
- Fiber-optic communication
- Google Fiber
- Multiple system operator
- Very-high-bit-rate digital subscriber line
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