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.
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.).
FiOS offers several service tiers that are available individually, but are offered at significant discounts when combined in a bundle. Although all current 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.
Verizon's broadcast video service is not IPTV (Internet Protocol television), unlike AT&T's U-verse 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.
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
FiOS Digital Voice, not a Voice over IP service, but rather an emulation of the old POTS, called PCM (Pulse Code Modulation), service with premium features, began in September 2008. It 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 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.
Price increases were announced in 2008 when FiOS was available to 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 July 2010, estimates were 3.8 million FiOS Internet subscribers and 3.2 million TV subscribers, with availability to 15 million homes.
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.
- 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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