William Cousert wrote:
> I have a few qestions about Verizon's new FiOS service. It was
> recently installed in my neighborhood and I'm thinking about switching
> over from Comcast.
> 1. Does Verizon offer Usenet access with their accounts? Comcast only
> offers a limited amount of bandwidth for Usenet and charges extra if
> you exceed it.
Yes, Verizon has very good Usenet access. It was terrible a few years
ago, but was upgraded to excellent quality about a year ago.
Officially, retention is 6 months for most non-binary groups. There
are glitches, inevitably, but I am very pleased with it; I access it
via DSL, but the same 30,000+ groups are available from the same
servers to FIOS customers. There are no Usenet bandwidth limits and
no extra charges, a significant difference from Comcast for some
users. Verizon also maintains a closed set of newsgroups
(0.verizon.*) accessible only from Verizon residential broadband
customers, with a few minor exceptions. These are filled with
ranting, trolls, complaints, occasionally appreciative posts,
suggestions, etc. (not all that different from elsewhere on Usenet) --
and Verizon's news administrators participate, list newly available
groups, etc. Several Verizon Online employees also participate on
their own time and provide useful advice.
> 2. Can I connect without using MSN?
> 3. I have three computers. Will they charge me extra for the
> additional IP's? If so, how much?
You can't get additional IPs, if Verizon's DSL practices extend to
FIOS. Use a router and you can connect as many computers as you want
for personal/family purposes. Verizon will even provide a wireless
router, if you want it; otherwise use whatever you want on your own
> 4. Can I run a personal server? I'd like to be able to host my own
> home page on it, as well as a message board. What about game servers
> (quake 3, etc.)?
I don't know how the terms of service for FIOS differ from DSL, but
the DSL terms of service officially prohibit servers. From what I
understand from the Verizon newsgroups, however, this is mainly
intended to apply to high-bandwidth and commercial servers. I haven't
heard of any action taken against people informally hosting games. As
to websites, no. Verizon (in most regions) blocks port 80, which
effectively means you can't host a website on your PC, unless you use
an alternate port and a dynamic DNS redirection service.
Verizon offers customers space for a website on its servers, but the
unanimous opinion of users is that the website service sucks raw eggs
big time. Get a web hosting account on a shared server for a few
bucks a month from any number of companies, register a domain name,
and use the webhost as your email provider, too. I use
http://www.thehostgroup.com to host my email and web pages for less
than $10 per month, and there are many cheaper companies, too. One
reason to use an outside service for email is that Verizon's email
sucks. They have blocked incoming email from huge swathes of Europe,
for example, in a fruitless effort to avoid spam, and Verizon is on
some blacklists due to zombie machines sending spam, so it would be
wise not to depend on its email service. Verizon does not block
outgoing port 25, so you can use your hosting company's smtp server
> 5. Will they offer cable tv services? I'd like to dump Comcast
> completely. Will they have video on demand?
My understanding is that Verizon plans to offer fiber-based TV
service, but it may or may not be available when you get FIOS, because
of the regulatory situation. (Verizon either has to get a Cable TV
authorization where is provides service or get the FCC to determine
that some particular configuration of fiber-based TV doesn't
constitute cable TV and is therefore exempt from local CATV
regulation.) Verizon's game plan is to allow you to dump Comcast, and
I have to assume they will have video on demand. They would be idiots
not to (not that that ever stopped a telco ...).
> 6. 15/2 service costs $49.95 per month. 30/5 costs $199.95 per
> month. Twice the bandwidth, four times the price. Why such a big jump
> in price? Can you get two 15/2 packages and join them together
> (remember shotgun modems? You could have two 56k modems work as one)?
> 6a. Does the $199.95 package give you the right to run servers? Maybe
> that's the reason for the big increase?
> 7. Can FiOS handle higher speeds in the future, or will they need to
> replace the fiber once again when the next leap in speed comes?
An optical fiber can handle almost infinitely higher speeds than 15 or
30 MB/s. I have no doubt that Verizon will increase speeds as the
demand for higher speed grows and competitive sources for such speed
come into being. My DSL service started as 640K/128K for $59.95 per
month in 1999. Using the same wires, I now get 3M/768K for $29.95 per
month. As FIOS and digital cable/Internet subscribers use more and more
bandwidth to watch multiple simultaneous video channels per household as
well as engage in high-bandwidth online activities, I'm sure Verizon
will offer speed upgrades. If the DSL example holds, it will double
speeds every few years for the same price.
> 8. Has anyone in this group made the jump from Comcast to FiOS? What
> do you think so far?
I haven't had the opportunity yet, although the fiber is in place. The
customer's posting on 0.verizon.fios seem to be relatively satisfied.
Michael D. Sullivan
Bethesda, MD (USA)
(Replace "example.invalid" with "com" in my address.)