Verizon FIOS Internet Service

Date 2005/4/19 1:00:00 | Topic: Miscellaneous

Work in Process: Review of Verizon FIOS Broadband Internet Service.

I've heard it said that Verizon has spent an average of about $1000 per household to bring Fiber Optic cables to the premises of each household in Lewisville, TX, where I live. The purpose of this is to offer high-speed internet and a cable television alternative.

My neighbor just ordered his Fios high-speed internet, and got his installed last week. I ordered their 15MBPS down/ 2MBPS up service with 5 static IPs last week, and will have it installed this Wednesday, 4/20/05.

Their cost for 5 static IPs and 15/2 MBps Business Fios service is only $99.95 per month, which is about half of what I'm paying for my cable internet ($45 /mo) + my DSL gold internet service (768Mbps/768Mbps for $145 / mo).

So far, I must say that I'm impressed with Verizon's level of service during the ordering process. Those early-adopters who purchase ISDN or DSL in the past from Verizon may remember poorly trained customer service personnel and endless phone calls and headaches.

The process for ordering FIOS seems to be pretty easy, and all 3 people I've spoken to at Verizon seemed to know exactly what I was talking about when I asked about business-level service, Static IPs and Reverse DNS.

I'll keep you posted.

Update: Wednesday 4/20/05: Today is the big day. I got a message on my voicemail yesterday that they would be here between (unintelligible) and 5pm, and that the install could take up to 4 hours. I've hung a card around my copper cables leading into the house, asking them to talk to me before disconnecting. We'll see if they'll heed my warning...

2nd Update: Wednesday 4/20/05:
After calling first, they showed up at about 9:30 this morning, ready to hook up my Fios. The first thing they noticed on the outside was my card that I had stuck on my existing copper that instructed them not to remove it. I'm glad I had that, because if they had turned off my DSL, it would have been a nightmare.

The technicians were unsure of why they weren't supposed to be disconnecting the copper lines, even though I had discussed it with the order taker, that I wanted to keep my DSL for a week or two more so that I can have transition time to move my servers.

I had three things going against me for this install:
1. It's business-grade service
2. It's Static IP
3. It's 5 static IPs

After surveying my office and seeing that I wanted to keep my copper, and have my 5 static IPs so that I could get my servers hooked up on the internet, one of the technicians said something like "If I had seen this coming, I would have run the other way". That was pretty indicative of the clusterfu** that was to come.

The physical installation went just fine. The guys were meticulous and neat, and even re-stapled my copper lines that were starting to sag. I did have to quickly install an electrical outlet in my garage so that they had a place to plug in the power supply. Luckily I had the parts at home. They ran a Cat-5 cable up my outside wall, and under the eaves, then back down and through the wall into my office, just below my window. On the inside, they installed a cheap but useful typical telco jack - mounted on the wall instead of IN the wall. I may have to fix that later.

The real "Fun" came when these guys tried to get my connection working.

What I thought:
This is just like DSL. I'll stick a switch on the ethernet port, and just hook up each of my computers to the switch.

What they thought:
This is just like any other home setup. We'll install this D-link router, and he can hook his computers to it.

Well, they hooked up the router, and the technician plugged into the router with his laptop, and went to the web-based administration screen. Then he stared and scratched his head, and stared some more. The 5 IP thing really threw him. This router is made to have one WAN port, and NAT everything else. He got on the phone with the Verizon tech support and we tried lots of stuff for about an hour, just to get one damn computer on the net. Eventually, after resetting the ONT remotely from the central office, and installing the router on a single IP of my 5 IP set, with NATting, which I said I didn't want, they got on the net, and I was able to get on with my notebook. After that they hauled ass out of here before I could come up with any more questions. Not before giving me a number of someone at the Verizon Fios support center who had gotten a reputation for being the "answer guy" for Fixed IP Fios.

So, I called the "Answer Guy" - I'll call him Mr. M. He was very helpful, but also very forthcoming about the early adopter hiccups that they had been experiencing. He told me that I was definitely "bleeding edge" for trying to get this working.

What I had done, after the install techs left, was to try to hook up my computer directly into the incoming ethernet port. Really, this should work, so I unplugged the router, and plugged my laptop directly in the port, after reconfiguring its IP to be one of my set of 5.

The weird thing was that I could see the gateway by using the arp -a command, but I couldn't ping it.

I asked Mr. M why that wouldn't work, and he explained it this way:

It takes the ONT 4 minutes to adjust to having something else plugged into the ethernet port. Occasionally and inexplicably, plugging something in other than the router it expects causes a "screaming ONT", which is evidenced by the activity light on the router going apeshit, and no traffic going out. While I was on the phone with him, he reset my ONT remotely, and I saw the activity light go dark. From that point, the router worked again.

So, I learned something: When the ONT goes apeshit, reset it. The way to do this manually without calling the telco is as follows: Open the battery cover. Remove the red terminal. Now unplug the ONT's power cable from the electrical outlet. Wait about 10 seconds, then hook them back up.

I asked why I couldn't just stick a switch right on the incoming port, and hook my computers and a wireless router right to the switch, each one having its own hard-configured IP address. To this, Mr. M. said that it should be able to work that way, but that his customers had mixed results with various switches.

So, later that night, I drove up to CompUSA, where I knew I could find a LinkSys Switch. (Mr. M mentioned that people tended to have better luck with them). So, I found a LinkSys 8 port 10/100 switch for about $60. I brought it home and unplugged the D-link router that Verizon provided and stuck my new switch on the port. I went outside and reset the ONT, then came back in and reset my notebook's IP and plugged it into the switch. Instantly it worked. Still skeptical, I reconfigured another notebook, and stuck it on the switch. Holy shit - it works. I also stuck my MicroSoft Wireless G router on there, and reconfigured it with another of my new IPs. I got that working too.

About Speed:
I ordered 15mbps download / 2mbps upload speed.

Testing my results using the online speed tests at:

I got interesting results:
When wired directly into the switch with a cable, the speeds are just about as promised - about 14Mbps download, 1.8Mbps upload. Interestingly, the results were sometimes higher than that, once telling me I was getting 40Mbps!

When accessing via wireless 802.11B 128bit WEP, the upload speed was cut in half, and the download speed was cut by about 2/3rds - quite a hit.

Update - Thursday, April 21
Last night I went to check my email at about midnight, and the ONT was wigging out again, so I rebooted it, and it's been pretty stable all day. I've been using the pipe for access to one of my client sites via their Cisco VPN router, and I've got to say - the results are very comparable to the cable internet that I was using before. I was hoping to see a speed improvement, so I'm disappointed. I'm guessing the bottleneck has got to be in in my client's VPN.

I did a head-to-head test between my hard-wired notebook accessing the Verizon test page, vs my other notebook hooked by my client's VPN (Both using my new Fios pipe, just not at the same time). Each test was run several times, and the 2nd highest result taken:

My new setup download speeds
Regular Ethernet over FIOS: 14.962 Mbps
VPN Tunnel over FIOS: 7.220 Mbps
802.11B over FIOS: 5.398 Mbps

My old setup download speeds
VPN Tunnel over Comcast Cable: 4.390 Mbps
802.11B over Verizon DSL Gold: .768 Mbps

This article comes from The Lewisville Texan Journal

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