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Welcome FIOS, Yet Another Internet Choice.

Broadband choices have expanded yet again. Verizon has introduced FIOS, Fiber Optic Service, boasting speeds up to 50 mbps to compete with existing cable Internet services. This new product is well worth looking at if you are shopping for Internet service.

FIOS takes advantage of the investment in fiber optic lines which have been replacing standard copper phone lines. Fiber optics are capable of much greater speeds, significantly improved reliability and reduced outside interference when compared to traditional copper cable. DSL, which we are all familiar with, has a 15,000 foot distance limitation with speed and quality diminishing as you approach the limit. Fiber optics distance limitation is much greater and fiber can carry thousands more connections over a single cable. These advantages will ultimately make the service available to more users.

We have all experienced the promotional battle between cable and DSL, with cable apparently having the edge in transmission speed. FIOS provides much greater speed than both of the older technologies by up to 80 percent, while improving reliability. Currently, the downside is that FIOS is available on a limited geographic basis. Introduced as a pilot program in Texas, FIOS availability has been expanded to Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia, Florida, California, Oregon and Washington.

The new service comes in a variety of packages to meet individual needs and budgets. Packages are offered with two speeds identified – the download speed and the upload speed – just like cable and DSL. Offerings range from five mbps/two mbps (meaning five mbps when downloading data and two mbps when uploading data) to an astounding 50 mbps/five mbps. Due to competition, prices vary for these packages geographically.

Significantly greater transmission speed, however, does not necessarily mean greater performance. Your total Internet performance is a function of several factors, in addition to transmission speed. The condition of the wiring inside and outside your building can impact your actual performance. Older wiring will definitely reduce the performance. This is one of the greater strengths of cable Internet, as cable wiring is relatively new everywhere when compared to telephone wiring that may be decades old. Also, the configuration of your computer can degrade Internet experience. Slower processors and older versions of Windows (specifically Windows 98) cannot deal effectively with the increased speeds. These factors and the number of computers simultaneously accessing Internet from your location will result in slower than stated throughput speeds. You can control these issues by upgrading your computers and/or wiring. The biggest factor beyond your control is the speed and capability of the Web servers you regularly access.

The biggest benefit of this new technology is the competition between phone and cable providers. The phone companies intend to move into television/video services which will compete with cable companies. Cable companies are already beginning to offer telephone service with Voice over IP (VoIP). So, ultimately you will see both cable and phone companies competing head-to-head by offering discounts or packages of television/video services, broadband Internet service and local/long distance phone service. Competition should benefit each of us as consumers by increasing the value of offers while driving prices down. Even so, these communications suppliers will continue to introduce new services to prevent a total price war.

So, if you are shopping for new Internet service, make sure to check all of the options: DSL, cable, FIOS and even satellite. Availability, speed, price and future services should be your determining factors. Select from the available offerings and then negotiate your best deal. Good luck choosing.



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