Verizon Fios Review – Choosing The Right Package

Verizon Fios has taken many neighborhoods by storm, offering the first fiber to the home communication service. Should you consider Fios? How does it compare with the satellite TV service out there from DISH Network and DIRECTV?  How about Verizon Fios as an alternative to cable television service? Here you will find answers to your questions in our Verizon Fios review.

Fios service from Verizon debuted in late 2004 and has been methodically deployed across the nation so that millions now have access to TV, internet, and voice service. The latest numbers from Verizon have 3.1 million homes and businesses connected in some way to Fios service. Fios TV customers now number 2.5 million, leaving Verizon in sixth place nationally when it comes to total cable subscribers. Cablevision is the next target when it comes to subscriber count, currently claiming about 3.1 million customers.

Verizon Fios is currently adding subscribers at a clip of about 1 million per year. While the most recent quarterly report was a bit disappointing, with only 191,000 customers signing up, nearly 600,000 new subscribers were added in the first half of 2009. Fios will be available to nearly 15 million homes and businesses by the end of 2009, with a stated goal of eventually reaching 18 million homes when fully deployed.

So why should you consider Verizon Fios?

One reason of course is the Verizon Triple Play. While satellite TV companies have been forced into alliances with local telephone operators, Verizon offers the ultimate one stop shop. With Verizon bundles, you can have one company provide your cable TV, your high speed internet access, and your home phone. Other big telcos have followed a similar path, AT&T U-verse being deployed in a similar fashion. In addition, Verizon wireless provides national mobile coverage. Verizon will eventually move from promoting the Triple Play bundle to the Quadruple play package, enticing customers with mobile service in addition to their home communications bundle.

Breaking down the Verizon Fios Triple Play, we find three components which compete well with both satellite and cable TV. Verizon Fios TV, Fios Internet, and Fios home phone services. Next in our Fios review we will take a look at these products.

Verizon Fios TV

One of the main reasons Verizon decided to deploy fiber each home was to have the bandwidth available for cable television service. With high definition becoming a must have for many pay TV subscribers, Fios provides a superior delivery system when comparing it against cable networks like Time Warner and Comcast. Why is this the case?

Fiber optic technology and systems have been around for years, mainly being used in commercial applications. But Fios brings fiber optics right to your home. This means the glass ceiling has been broken when it comes to the amount of data that can be brought into your home over the fiber network. While fiber to the premise or FTTP technology is extremely expensive to deploy, it is very inexpensive to maintain. It also results in customers spending more money for more services, so Verizon expects a high return on their nearly $25 billion dollar Fios investment. Subscribers who order television service in addition to their home phone and high speed internet service will pay quite a bit more each month, rather than paying that money to DIRECTV or Time Warner cable.

So what will you get with Fios TV, and how much will it cost? The starting point for most customers will be the Fios TV Essentials package. Priced at $47.99 a month, this bundle includes over 250 channels including your local stations like NBC, CBS, FOX, and ABC. All of the mainstream cable networks are in this package as well, names you are familiar with like USA, MTV, CNN, Discovery channel, ESPN, ESPN2, and TNT. The Fios TV Essentials also includes access to Verizon’s On Demand library, which has more than 16,000 titles available every month.

You might be wondering how you get 250 channels for just $47.99 per month. That sounds like a price that is a little too good to be true, and it is somewhat inflated. That number includes nearly 100 music channels. The Fios Essentials has 48 Urge Radio channels, and 47 Music Choice channels. While commercial free music channels are a nice feature of satellite and cable TV providers, they certainly aren’t as valuable or as entertaining as video content.

Now if you are looking for more content, consider the Fios TV Extreme HD package. The price on this package is $10 more per month, coming in at $57.99 per month. The idea here is similar to the additional charge that satellite TV companies bill for HD access. Both DISH Network and DIRECTV charge an extra $10 per month for “HD access.” While Fios doesn’t call this an HD fee, this package is really needed for any subscriber who wants plenty of HD content. The Extreme HD package contains everything in the Fios TV Essentials package plus 41 addition high definition channels.You also get up to 14 sports channels, and up to 16 additional standard definition channels. The numbers vary slightly based on the area you live in, so check the Fios website for exact channel lineups.

If you or someone in your home speaks Spanish, there is another programming option to consider. The Verizon Fios Spanish language option is called La Conexion, and can be bought for the low price of $39.99 a month. La Conexion offers 25 of the top Spanish language stations including Telefutura, Univision, and Telemundo. In addition, 35 English channels are included, plus commercial free music programming to bring the channel count up to about 140 all together.

Now if you are interested in premium movie networks, they certainly can be added to your base Fios TV bundle. Adding these networks along with the Fios DVR can eliminate the need for a Netflix subscription, or trips down to the local video store. The all inclusive movie channel option with Fios is the HBO, Cinemax, and Movie package which is $35.00 a month. Included here are 14 HBO channels, 12 Cinemax channels, and 45 movie channels from Showtime, Starz, the Movie Channel, Encore, Sundance, and Flix. All of the HBO and Cinemax channels come in HD, as do many of the other feeds as well.

Now if you aren’t in the market for all of the premium movie channels, you can of course buy the premium tiers individually from Fios. The HBO and Cinemax package runs $21.99 a month, or you can get the HBO package on a stand alone basis for $15.99 or Cinemax for $11.99 per month. The nice thing with any of these packages is that you also have full access to HBO on demand or Cinemax on demand, so you can watch any of the movies offered through the on demand platform at any time.

Another option is the Fios Movie package, which bundles Starz, Showtime, and Encore among other channels for $14.99 a month. Premium HD and On Demand HD content is also an option with package. Finally, a couple of extras are also available. The Disney Family Movie add-on offers 10 different movies available for unlimited viewing, with two new movies added each week. Karaoke is also an option with Verizon, with 300 plus songs available for $7.99 per month.

We briefly touched on the La Conexion Spanish package earlier, but what if you are in the market for a different Verizon Fios international programming package? Fortunately, there are several different foreign language options. While you won’t find as many channels with Fios compared to DIRECTV and DISH Network foreign programming, it is nice to at least have the option to add in these packages if need be. While the selection is extensive, here are a few of the prices. First, Spanish speaking households can add 27 channels to an English package for $11.99 per month rather than subscribing to La Conexion. The Fios TV Russian package is $29.99 a month for three channels, and Fios Arabic programming is available for $16.99 a month for two channels. Quite a few additional foreign language packages are available through Fios, including Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, and South Asian. If these are of interest to you, you may want to check the package pricing and compare Fios vs. satellite TV before making a final decision.

Now if you are worried that Veizon Fios won’t have the sports programming that you are accustomed to, don’t be. Verizon has struck deals with all of the major sports channels including ESPN and the NFL Network. In fact, Verizon Fios generally beats cable TV when it comes to sports programming, but they fall a little bit behind DIRECTV mainly because of the exclusive packages that are tied up with the satellite television provider.  As the availability of FiOS expands, expect even more sports programming.

While you can’t get the NFL Sunday Ticket package through Fios, you will be able to subscribe to the out or market hockey, baseball, and basketball packages. NBA League Pass, NHL Center Ice, and MLB Extra Innings are all accessible through Verizon. Pricing on these premium sports packages is the same as you would find on DISH Network or Comcast, usually in the area of $200 per season. Fios also carries the new NFL RedZone channel, at a cost of about $50 for the season, and the MLB Network as well. Secondary packages are also available including ESPN GamePlan, ESPN Full Court, MLS Direct Kick and Setanta Sports.

Now that we have reviewed Fios TV programming options, lets look at the services that really make watching TV enjoyable. I’m referring to the Fios DVR, and Fios On Demand programming.

Verizon Fios On Demand basically takes the same model used by big cable TV companies like Comcast and Time Warner cable and applies it to the fiber network. Right now, Verizon claims to have 18,000 titles in their video on demand library, certainly enough content to make you sink right to the bottom of your couch if you attempted to watch them all. So does Fios offer the most On Demand content? That battle seems to be heating up as battle lines have been drawn between Comcast and Verizon. Last month, Fios came out swinging against Comcast, claiming they had nearly doubled the number of titles offered by the nations largest cable TV company.

Comcast quickly fired back, noting that they offer 17,000 VOD titles in many areas, and more than 18,000 in Philadelphia. So if you are comparing Verizon Fios vs. Comcast in the On demand arena, you can be sure that you will always be able to find something to watch, day or night. The on demand service from Fios is similar to cable companies in that if you want to watch premium commercial free movies, you either have to subscribe to the movie channel, or if it is a newer release you can order it on pay per view, usually for about $5 per movie.

The Verizon Fios DVR is similar to digital video recorders that you get with DIRECTV, DISH Network, and cable TV services. There are a few enhancements though that may tip you toward Fios rather than one of the alternative cable services.

The Fios Home Media DVR is the something to really consider if you are comparing Fios to cable TV. While DISH Network has introduced DVR devices that work in two rooms, Fios beats that by offering access in up to three different rooms in your house. Even better, you can watch three different shows on those three TV’s at the same time. This means if you have several people in your family wanting to watch different recordings, nobody will have to wait for the DVR. The Verizon Home DVR is a bit pricey, running $19.99 per month for the service, but if you are using three DVR’s with your satellite or cable company, you will end up paying about the same if not more each month.

Other features of the Fios DVR include the ability to pause recording in one room, and pick it up in another. The remote DVR feature give you access to the digital video recorder from the internet or your mobile phone. This will allow you to set a recording from another location in case you forgot to program it before leaving home. The Fios DVR lacks in capacity, saving up to 80 hours of standard definition, or 20 hours of HD content. These numbers need to be increased to match satellite TV DVR devices.

Now if you don’t need something as robust as the Home Media DVR, you can select one of the lower level Verizon receivers. The Fios HD DVR runs $15.99 a month, and will deliver and record content in high definition. Capacity is the same as the Home Media device. If you don’t want DVR service, you can go with the Fios HD receiver for $9.99 a month, or the SD receiver for $5.99. These fees would be for each TV you want hooked up.

As you can see, Fios TV offers plenty of affordable content at competitive prices. Next in our Verizon Fios review is a breakdown of the high speed internet service.

Fios High Speed Internet

When the internet really took off in the mid-90’s, intolerable dial up speeds were the number one complaint. High speed internet access was born shortly before the year 2000, and with the advent of Verizon Fios, dial-up internet access seems like a bad dream from decades past.

So why is Fios internet service superior to cable? The main reason is the network. As discussed earlier, Verizon Fios is the first fiber to the premise in the United States. Nothing else out there can really compete with a fiber optic network straight to the home. Traditional DSL relies on copper phone lines, and cable modems get their feed over a coaxial network. Obviously the 21st century technology is going to beat out the 20th century version.

Verizon Fios internet speeds are the fastest out there today in residential settings. While you may find cable internet speed that reach up to 15 Mbps, oftentimes these are aided by Powerboost which will give you a higher download speed for a while. This can be useful at times for smaller downloads, but doesn’t always help a lot for big files. Alternatively, the top Verizon Fios internet speed is 50 Mbps, and this remains constant. In fact, the lowest Fios internet speed is 15 Mbps downstream, and 5 Mbps upstream, so the service is already competitive with top cable speeds.

Here is a breakdown of the Verizon Fios internet speeds and pricing structure. These prices are based on a one year contract with Verizon:

15 Mbps Download/5 Mbps Upload – $49.99 per month

25 Mbps Download/15 Mbps Upload – $64.99 per month

50 Mbps Download/20 Mbps Upload – $139.99 per month

The prices above also include a $5 discount as long as you also have Verizon home phone service, otherwise you pay a bit more. If you are concerned about the modem, don’t be as all Fios internet services include a wireless router and free installation on your first computer. In addition, the first two levels of service include one month free when you place your order online. Other Verizon Fios package deals can reduce your overall price, and we will cover these package offers in detail at the end of this review.

Verizon Fios high speed internet includes everything else you would expect from your communications provider. Premium installation is of value, and Verizon uses a union workforce instead of contractors. You can be assured of quality work that will be performed to your satisfaction. The usual bells and whistles are also included such as 24 hour a day phone support, online help, personal web space, and up to 9 e-mail accounts. You will also have access to My Verizon, where you can view and manage your home phone, TV and wireless services, and even your voicemail from your online account.

Overall, with Verizion Fios internet service, you will be able to enjoy unprecedented speed on the only 100% fiber optic network. Verizon backs their Fios internet service with a 30 day money back guarantee. Next, our Verizon Fios review continues with a look at the home phone service portion of the Triple Play package.

Verizon Fios Home Phone

Verizon Fios phone service is built around the idea that you will have same reliability as your old traditional copper phone line. With 99.9% network reliability, and clear connections, Fios phone service is the perfect way to round out your Verizon bundle, using the fiber optic network to deliver digital phone service to your home or business. All of the traditional calling features are available, and Verizon has devised a way to keep your phone running even if the power goes out in your neighborhood.

The calling plans available with Fios telephone are the same as with a regular Verizon line. Here is a breakdown of what is offered. The top telephone plan is the Verizon Freedom Essentials option. This calling plan combines unlimited long distance and local calling with three popular phone features. Call waiting, Caller ID, and Home Voice mail service are offered on top of the unlimited calling feature, all for $44.99 to $49.99 pre month depending on your area. If you don’t want the calling features, the alternative is the Verizon Freedom Value option. This package is priced from $39.99 to $44.99 a month, and offers just the unlimited calling, both local and long distance.

Other calling features that you may be familiar with are also available. These include three way calling, call forwarding, call blocking, speed dialing,*69 last call return and others. Check the Verizon site to for exact pricing on additional calling features. Verizon also offers international long distance calling, and rates can differ quite a bit from country to country. Again your best bet is to visit Verizon.com for full details and rates on calling to foreign countries.

So if you have made it this far into our Verizon Fios review, you might think that service is a bit pricey, especially if you order two or three Fios services. That would be the case if you had to pay full price for each service, but fortunately you can get a nice deal if you are going with a bundle package. To conclude our review, we will take a look at some of the current Verizon Fios promotional offers. While these are accurate as of 11/09, offers can be changed at any time, so be sure to check out the latest deals here.

Verizon Fios Deals

Depending on which services you select, there are several options being offered by Verizon that will fit your needs. These are based on Fios TV being one of the services selected, then adding either Fios internet of Fios phone service, or both. The real kicker that makes many of these Fios deals irresistible is the $150 cash back incentive to give the service a go. The best thing to do is evaluate what your cable company is offering you, whether it be Time Warner, Comcast, or Cablevision, then compare it with these Fios bundle deals.  If you are comparing Fios vs DIRECTV, then you will want to keep in mind that satellite service requires a two year agreement.

The Fios Triple play bundle is the first package to evaluate when comparing your service with cable. Current deals are based on a one year agreement, so keep that in mind before you sign up. Currently you can get the Verizon Triple play for $99.99 per month for one year, which is a $10 discount below the normal bundled price. This package includes the Fios internet with 15 Mbps download, the Fios TV Essential package, and the Freedom Essentials phone package. In addition, you can currently get the Home Media DVR Free for three months, saving you $19.99 a month there. Free activation and installation is included as well, plus another $5 off each month for a year when you order online.

Now if you do not want or need the home phone service, another option is the Fios Double Play. This option starts at $84.99 per month when factoring in the $10 discount during the first year. Here you will get the same Fios TV and internet options found in the Triple play, but without the home phone line. The Total Home DVR promotion is also here, offering free use of the device for three months.

The Verizon Fios $150 cash back offer sweetens the pot even more. New subscribers to either the Verizon Triple play or the Double play are eligible for a prepaid Visa card worth $150 bucks. Keep in mind it can take up to three months to get your rebate card, but it is a great incentive to try Verizon Fios.

With so much to offer, its no wonder Fios service from Verizon has quickly carved out a significant fan base. Continued competition between cable, satellite TV, and now telco TV companies will insure competitive pricing and service for customers.

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