Posted by: reformedmusings | May 8, 2009

Finally pitched cable for FIOS

Well, I finally ditched Comcast cable for Verizon FIOS. The Comcast Internet was great, but the more High Definition channels that were added on the TV side, the worse the HD channels performed. I was getting screen freezes and heavy pixelation during peak viewing periods. Audio was also choppy on some HD channels. The former would normally be caused by bandwidth limits on a circuit, the latter by overcompression to squeeze more HD into the same limited bandwidth. I ended up watching my favorite shows like 24 in normal TV because the HD was unwatchable. I’ve had Comcast folks out a number of times as the situation deteriorated over time, but nothing worked. As if that wasn’t sufficient reason to pitch cable, Comcast had messed up my bill for the last five months in a row. Repeated calls every month didn’t produce any relief. Enough was enough.

I must pause to say that with only two exceptions, Comcast employees were courteous and professional. This isn’t about the people or even the company, just about poor performance.

Since switching to FIOS, HDTV  has been marvelous. So far, all the HD channels work perfectly, including the ones with the most problems on cable. No frozen screens, no pixelation, no choppy audio. HDTV is back to being a dream. Oh, and FIOS runs over the exact same coax cabling, in case anyone’s wondering if cheap cabling or connectors caused cable TV’s poor performance.

The bundle for which I signed up included 20 Gbps Internet access. Wow, 20 Gbps! Cable had 6 Mbps steady state with a brief speed boost to 12 Mbps at the beginning of a large download. I download lots of iso images to test operating systems, so faster download is a very good thing. Comcast’s Internet proved very consistent. So far, so has FIOS –  just faster. 20 Mbps Internet downloads are just awesome.

And price? My FIOS TV/Internet package (including the 20 Gbps Internet and HD Extreme channels) provides increased performance across the board for $12.95/month less than what I was paying Comcast! That was hard to turn down.

I was using a Linksys wireless router with the Comcast cable modem. I loved my Linksys. It worked flawlessly during 4 years of continuous use. The Verizon wireless router doesn’t require a separate modem, which saved a valuable power outlet. Although its firewall setup is very different than the Linksys, I was able to set it up with the same tight security. I used the very handy Shields Up! site to check my system and it passed without issue once I turned off the ping response.

Now for the ugly. Verizon apparently assumes that everyone uses either Windows or Mac OS. Using Firefox in Linux, I could not even set up my basic Verizon account. Verizon wanted to download software just to sign in to start my account. That’s inexcusable in this day and age. At least is doesn’t hijack your computer like AOL does.

So, I turned to a WinXP virtual machine and proceeded with no further problems. I plan on writing Verizon and complaining about that. Who knows, maybe they’ll care. Once I set up the account, I was able to use Thunderbird to handle my Verizon email. I don’t anticipate any further interaction with Verizon’s site, so things should be Linux smooth from here on out.

Quality HDTV…20 Gbps Internet…Life is good!

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