The FiOS Chronicles



I have waited about 18 months for FiOS to finish wiring my apartment building in midtown Manhattan.  It was worth it.  After a short, truly painless, 7-hour conversion, I can say goodbye Time Warner Cable, so long old-fashioned Verizon landlines, adiós cable modem, hasta la vista backup DSL modem – hello 150 Mbps down, 62 Mbps up – awesome!

I have heard all kinds of horror stories about Verizon FiOS installations – it was not my experience.  I was given a window when the installers would show up.  They showed up inside the window.  They knew exactly what they were doing and what needed to be done.  They were extremely respectful of my existing systems and worked as quickly as practical.  In the end, they just killed the Time Warner Cable and old Verizon infrastructure and replaced it with new, extraordinary FiOS infrastructure.

The first thing I noticed was that nothing, and I do mean nothing, prepares you for browsing the web at 152/62 (Verizon’s published specification is 150 Mpbs down and 35 Mbps up).  It is so fast, well … if have an older computer or you have a slow graphics card, you will feel like you hit the limits of your hardware before you hit the limits of the bandwidth.  The speed is truly mindboggling.  You may wonder if you need that much speed.  Time is money – you do!

The next thing I noticed was the FiOS user interface.  I’ve seen it many, many times before, but I’ve never spent the night with it.  It makes the Time Warner Cable user interface feel very old and irrelevant.  On the other hand the FiOS user interface is feature-laden and completely intuitive.

The multi-room DVR rocks!  You can add your own 2TB drive to expand its storage capability (although most people won’t need to), the functionality is flawless and the picture quality also makes my old Time Warner Cable installation look like I was watching TV with the aid of stone axes and bearskins.  The downsides of multi-room DVR include no pause function, no record indicator and no clocks on the remote set-top boxes.  I didn’t think the “no clock” thing would matter, but there are certain members of my household who rely on that function.

If you really want to have some fun, start playing with the phone system that comes with the FiOS triple play.  The web interface, the keypad interface, it doesn’t matter, the phone is so over-featured you will want to read the manual.  And, most importantly, the sound quality is as good or better than the twisted-copper pair telephone service it replaced.

As for the content packages available on FiOS, pretty much everything you’d ever want to watch (or could watch from other cable/satellite providers) is available.  Plus, the interface has widgets that truly expand your video viewing, information gathering and communication capabilities.

All in, day one of my FiOS Chronicles has been awesome.  Having just programmed my FiOS multi-room DVR from my iPhone, I can tell you … FiOS is fun and convenient.

I’m sure that I will find several things to complain about for my next installment.  I like to complain, and there’s no way that I will be this happy with FiOS next week.  That said, maybe I will.  Oh … I forgot to tell you, the FiOS triple play is costing me about 50% of what I was paying for my combo Time Warner Cable/Verizon Phone package.  Better service, more features and half the price – seriously — what’s not to like?



Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is Managing Director, Digital Media Group at Landmark Ventures/ShellyPalmer a technology focused Investment Banking & Advisory practice specializing in M&A, Financings, Strategic Partnerships and Innovation Access. He is Fox 5 New York's On-air Tech Expert and well known for his work on Fox Television's Shelly Palmer Digital Living as well as his daily radio report on United Stations Radio Networks. For more information, visit


  1. Mark Renna says:

    “The downsides of multi-room DVR include no pause function” I pause all the time via Multi Room.  Not sure why you cannot.  “no record indicator” I believe this may come in a future release.  “and no clocks on the remote set-top boxes.  I didn’t think the “no clock” thing would matter, but there are certain members of my household who rely on that function.”  I agree completely.
    You wil love FiOS next week just as much as this week! :)

  2. Ramzi says:

    Let’s hope that FIOS serves as a catalyst for changes and advances within Comcast. Comcast is the polar opposite of what you just experienced. They have the worst customer service imaginable. Try calling a help line after getting service installed but not correctly activated. You’ll have better luck with a system in Hyderabad….oh, yeah, that’s where the customer service call center is anyway!

  3. Dcomora says:

    Made the switch to Verizon about 2 years back from Optimum online. One of my video editors did a side by side test and reported the video quality was far superior…So I went with the Triple Play (cable, phone, internet)  I found my VUDU streamed at the 1080p quite well, only pausing on rare occasions to buffer, unlike my initial Optimum experience.  HOWEVER,  I also found that Verizon reset my phone service for no apparent reason on several occasions, causing me to lose messages and costing me hours of time waiting to find the correct individual to speak with on a nightmare of customer service calls, disconnections and hang ups.  I came to the realization that the Verizon customer service people were ignorant, ill informed and/or deceptive.  Then I found that I was being over-billed for the the service I agreed to.  It took weeks and hours on the phone to resolve the issue.  Several months later, I noticed that my agreed rate of $120 per month had mysteriously been increased to $160 per month.  Again I spent hours trying to resolve the issue and was told that the rate I was offered was a mistake, and the system did not recognize it….even though I had been paying that rate for months!  In total frustration, I called  Optimum and they  offered me the same services at a rate of $105 per month, no contract, with a price guaranty for 2 years and an Ipod touch..(.which is now for sale on ebay).  They also said that their new internet service was faster than Verizons…i made the switch back…which took about 30 minutes.  My VUDU and Netflix stream with no buffer issues, as the new web speed blows away Verizon.    Footnote… Last week Verizon sent me a “We want you back” offer for $89.99.  My experience is that Optimum video quality may be slightly lower quality and their set boxes break frequently…however, Verizon has the worst customer service and their sales reps are deceptive and customer service reps are ignorant.  Even as a video professional, I’ll take slightly lower video quality to hours of anger and frustration.

  4. deancollins says:

    Hi Shelly, Are fios blocking any ports on your particular fios internet installation?I’d love faster upstream for serving up files but i’ve been told they are (or were) more restrctive about running servers from home and blocked critical ports.
    TimeWarner still insist 5mb upstram is the fastest service they offer :(

    • Shelly Palmer says:

      If you have commercial service, you can do anything you like.  They do block a couple or ports, but there are very easy work-arounds.

    • I have the residential 35/35 Mbps service and I am running a server at home. HTTP, HTTPS, FTP. SFTP, SSH, and VNC all work perfectly. I have not encountered a single port being blocked.

      • Dean Collins says:

        Christian thanks for letting me know this, i run similar but also my own exchange server, you’re the first FIOS user hat i’ve spoken with real world experience, where are you located? how long have you had fios? how much traffic is going to your http server?

        • I am on Long Island (Nassau County) I have had FiOS for about 2-3 years now. I don’t have that much traffic to my HTTP server since I only use it for personal use (WebDAV for access to my files and stuff like that).

          I am running HTTP with Windows Server 2008 and use about 30 GB a month in transfer and never see bandwidth problems. You can also see how fast the connection to my computer is using this url, it will run a speedtest.

  5. Tim Halle says:

    If I might ask, did you get residential or commercial service ? (probably going to wire a space in the next couple of weeks)

    • Shelly Palmer says:

      Residential. If you need static IP addresses, you have to get the commercial (more expensive).

  6. Hollywood5459 says:

    It’s the money that is this major bottom line. Comcast rates keep increasing and won’t budge. Fios is comparably less, but their customer service is close to nil as I keep hearing from a variety of sources. The cost of competition is over the moon. The increased costs to fixed incomes(which status is also increasing) not to mention the average $50,000 gross annual family income – is eating away at disposable income purchases within the household necessities and putting the money, aka power, dangerously into very few persons. And this is not including the increased cell phone costs. There is a cost to the general economy. The people who read Shelly Palmer are more likely the people who may be able to circumvent in part or will just pay without cutting into other expenses. “What a revolting dilemma …” Fios ? Comcast ?

  7. Joseph Gray says:

    Welcome to the FIOS family Shelly.  I live out in a 5 acre minimum rural community in Southern CA (Wine Country of Temecula) and since 1999 we braved Satellite and point to point wireless Microwave for Internet.  We dreamed of cable that never came.  One day these evil me started digging up our street while I was at work.  My wife stopped them to interrogate (ours is a private road that all the neighbors chipped in to pave).  “What are you digging up our road for”, she said.  “FIOS mam”, they replied.  Can you imagine my excitement when I got home?  The distance to my front door from the road is probably 300 feet but they brought the fiber all the way from the road to my house without my having to play extra.  Needless to say, we love FIOS! 

  8. Mannel9 says:

    Not my experience at all, Shelly. Placed my triple play order late Feb. by mid-march I had my first all day visit which resulted in no service. Was told they’d reschedule with me, personally, which didn’t happen. They just showed up one month later unannounced. The second all day visit resulted in a video service which goes black 15-20 times an hour, heavily pixelated HD channels a high latency guide with no pause capability in the 2nd room. (oft used feature in our house … No one told us about this, but given my background, I should have known).

    High speed data is good, but not sure I’m getting the upload speeds advertised. I still have my TWCable service as back up, and have tested uploads on both at various points in the day. FiOS consistently mediocre, where as TWCable is mediocre sometimes and terrible other times. The real test for me was my AT&T Microcell where any upstream traffic on TWCable used to interfere with the service. Well, sadly have to report that FiOS isn’t any better. I can still hear everyone (traffic coming down) but they can’t hear me (traffic going up).

    Last, but not least, 8 days after the 2nd all day install and I still don’t have dial tone. So haven’t been able to test any of those fancy phone features (I’ll never use anyway).

    Needless to say, as the home CIO, my internal client (my wife) is decidedly NOT happy with the move.

  9. Todd P. Leavitt says:

     “What’s not to like?” you ask…let me tell you my
    story of FiOS agony (not so much ecstasy).


    I decided to renovate my principal residence in
    Santa Monica, CA starting last May. I was, at that time, a dedicated FiOS
    customer with much the same ecstatic experience you describe below. During the
    renovation, I had rented a temporary home 2.2 miles away, in Brentwood. I called
    FiOS tech support to advise them of the move. I reached their customer support
    service center in Chicago. Sadly, I was advised that FiOS had not yet wired
    Brentwood (neither had ATT U-Verse, who, as in the old days of cable warfare,
    never over-build each other). I was therefore forced to move my television
    package over to DirectTV and my broadband service to Time-Warner. TW was my
    prior cable and modem provider at my primary residence, and my experience was
    similar to yours–total price gouging without explanation and less than stellar
    technical support and truly lousy customer service. I asked the FiOS
    representative about phone service. I was very happy to hear that my four phone
    lines (then covered by the triple play at a financial savings similar to yours)
    could be ported and my home telephone service would continue uninterrupted at
    the temporary rental. Both my wife and I run small businesses out of our home,
    so this latter fact was a matter of great comfort.


    Everything seemed fine until the day of the
    cutover when service at the rental house was scheduled to begin. I plugged-in my
    phone instrument and, lo and behold–no dial tone on any of the four lines! When
    I called my home office number from my mobile, I received the following recorded
    SERVICE”. Ouch!!! Same for my wife’s business line and our home


    Six weeks, 14 different Verizon call service
    centers, 5 supervisors and 35
    individual customer service representatives later….I finally had service
    properly installed in my rental residence. It was the most agonizing,
    infuriating exercise in consumer powerlessness I have ever experienced, with
    untold damage to the businesses of my wife and myself. What became clear after
    many, many conversations with the Verizon customer service staff, is that, while
    Ivan Seidenberg has invested $2 billion in FiOS infrastructure, in the process
    the Verizon workforce has been reduced by 50% and
    there exists no institutional know-how regarding problem-solving and they
    are seriously understaffed.


    Shelly, I am delighted with your momentary
    happiness…just pray you never need to have any problems rectified by Verizon.
    They are THE WORST!! (I was able to finesse a bill credit of
    $175.00 for my six weeks of suffering–little recompense).

  10. Dick Hubert says:


    You are lucky you live in Manhattan and have a building Verizon would wire.

    I live in Rye Brook, New York, in a condo community that by muncipal agreement Verizon was required to wire within five years.

    They first wired the low hanging fruit, private homes, from telephone poles, and then started bickering with the condo complexes, all of whom have underground wiring. Verizon would have had to tear up the streets and sidewalks and lawns to install their wiring in underground conduits, and then restore everything like new. It would have cost them a bundle. But they were legally required to do so. Or so we thought.

    Then they claimed it would cost residents hundredsof dollars per unit to add electrical connections not required by Cablevision and Direct TV (the other competitors). The residents, already overburdened with crushing property taxes from local schools, muncipalities, and the County, balked. That was all Verizon needed to say – no way, we aren’t coming. And the authorities at Rye Brook found their contract had a loophole you could drive a Verizon truck through.

    So we won’t be getting FIOS, and I think Verizon is happy about it.  Our condo leadership feels it had good reason to distrust Verizon management from the get-go.

    Maybe Verizon will be back some day. But I doubt it. Maybe Cablevision will come in with a superior product.

    The future, as you define it, seems to come in fits and starts.

  11. Kevin Lee says:

    Actually, I’ve used both FIOS &  ultra high bandwidth Time Warner Cable solution (NYC). Both are great.

  12. Hankyc says:

    I live in Yonkers, NY. Switched from Cablevision to Fios almost a year ago.  I cut my phone/internet/cable bill in half. But not without install problems. They sent the installer to the wrong address, insisting that I lived where I did not.  It took 2 install dates over a 1 week period of time to get it done. They wound up giving me 40 dollars a month off my monthly bill to appease me.  Since then I have has no problems at all..except… The other day I decided to test my internet speed. On my iMac which has an ethernet connection I was getting speeds of 44 Mbps both up & download. Super fast.  However on my wi-fi laptop speeds were only at a max of 17/14 Mbps. I tested over a few days & decided to call Verizon.  I was told that the speeds you pay for are only guaranteed for ethernet connection. They do not guarantee connection speeds for Wi-Fi connections. Too many things that operate on the same frequencies to guarantee speeds, especially since I am in an apartment building.  Other wi-fi’s  wireless phones, cell phones all compete for the same frequencies. I was told to buy a wi-Fi signal booster.  So I did and it makes no difference. Next call is to Amped (Signal booster manufacturer) to see if there is anything I can do…
    So if you are on Wi-Fi only be aware that you will NOT get high speed you expect with FIOS..

    • It is not their fault. You have to know how to manage your network. The router they give you is.not the best so you have to get your own. You also have to use a wifi analyzer to determine the best operating channel. After setting mine up I get the same speeds as Ethernet. The wifi problem goes for all providers. They cannot control that.

  13. Hollywood5459 says:

    A few years ago, there was a problem with my land line and interference with my Verizon and their internet service. After over a year of back and forth and misinformation and idiots at Verizon, I wrote a letter to the FCC. Don’tcha’ know, I heard back super quick from both. All of a sudden Verizon sent a knowledgable tech who found the problem in their internal setup – the vattyline ?- and all was well along with a Verizon attorney getting in touch to settle for no charges for 6 months. You know why. These telecommunications companies need to be classified as a communications company and under the FCC watch instead of these rouge, multi-billion dollar lobbyists with power and control from greedy corporations dictating with their patent protected and patent trolling goons to prevent competition from their castles paid for by their subject. Without proper regulation: Chaos from Pandora’s Box.

  14. Nicknet says:

    I have Fios in Northern New Jersey . I do have the clock function and have remote pause on my DVR. So I guess NYC happens to be a little different!


  15. Occupy the commode says:

    After some of the most idiotic problems with Time Warner a few years ago (They refused to reverse some pay-per-view charges for pricey wrestling matches that they claimed I was supposedly watching at 7 am, when I never even used pay-per-view), so I dumped them cold.  

    Verizon claimed that we would have FIOS in 2010.  It is now 2012 and they’re nowhere to be found, with their customer no-service trolls expressing the usual corporate “we apologize.”  And now I read from Shelly that they had to wire his apt bldg as well? No doubt that by the time we finally get FIOS in Kew Gardens, it will either be outmoded or they’ll be dragging me out to a nursing home–if I live that long

  16. Brad Berens says:

    Shelly, you’re killing me!  I’ve wanted FiOS or U-Verse for YEARS, but neither has come to my little town outside Portland, Oregon.  Feh.

  17. Mark Renna says:

    1.9.1 is even better!

  18. As a former Optimum online user, and a current FiOS user, even the “upgraded” 50Mbps line rarely if (n)ever goes beyond 0.6~2MBps (600-2000KBps)…Whereas the stock 60Mbps optimum line nets me 4~6MBps (4000-6000KBps) single download speeds everyday, all day. I have done alot of testing and forum mongering on this issue and came to the realization that FiOS’ advertised speeds are almost NEVER what you will get in real world situations (single downloads) unless you are using MULTI-STREAM downloading a la usenet/torrents. With that said, FiOS does NOT rate limit the downstream, but still- this is of no use to 90% of the people who want “faster” internet. There is also an issue with the hardware given by Verizon…. The Actiontech router they give with their wireless set-up package, is abysmal. SOOO many ports closed/locked and you cant even open them up as there is no functionality to do so with this n00b router… thats ridiculous (and they tell you not to switch the hardware too!). When I had Optimum I was given a Netgear router which i’m used to using and is very configurable. With that said Optimum online is, in my opinion, the better of the two options when it comes to internet service for the average user.

    As for the person who said their ports are not blocked; http,ftp,VNC, SSH..etc
    aren’t blocked by Verizon itself, and that is because those are the average ports that most everyone uses. Xbox consoles, for instance, use other ports many of which ARE blocked, and my bandwidth suffers. The same goes for torrents (ports 6881-6889). Because the router they give you does not have a uPnP option, ports cannot be randomized and therefore there is no workaround with the port closures and thus shitty
    connection speed occurs. I cannot, unless I encrypt my connection through a VPN and port forward with a DIFFERENT router, saturate my line EVER while trying to download using the Actiontech router.

    I’ll add that while FiOS may look slightly better (3-5% better if i had to put a number on it) the internet speeds are so shitty, and the customer service so horrible and deceptive that i’m actually in the process of switching back this week. I was quoted 95.00 for internet and TV, but i am now paying 110.00 every month… ?????

    As for the TV network listings, they themselves are only ~ok. Some things are missing, namely Cartoon Network HD (Hey, i’m in my 20’s and I like adult swim!) And lets not also mention that the “Land-line” phone, isnt a land line at all (like the old style power line ones)…. and if your power goes out you will only have 8 hours of battery backup. Comparing this to cable is kinda dumb I guess, because if your cable goes out so does your phone, but cablevision will tell you that you cannot use their phone service
    for emergencies (i just use my cell phone now, I don’t have a house phone anyway).

    One last thing- Optimum has News 12, which shits all over FiOS1. I live in NY and this past weeked we got hit by Hurricane Sandy…. and FiOS1 coverage sucked balls, whereas News 12 had people like all the Mayors calling with pertinent information and
    better school closure information. So yeah, that’s about all I have to say, I hope this helps anyone about to make the switch.

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