Verizon Gets Symmetrical, Boosts FiOS Upload Speeds

Dave Zatz —  July 21, 2014

verizon-symmetry

As my two year subscription comes to an end, Verizon is courting me with free HBO and an upcoming boost in FiOS upload speeds to match download numbers:

Dear Customer: Thank You! The free speed upgrade is part of Verizon’s continuing commitment to recognize customers for their loyalty. Customer upgrades to equalized download and upload speeds will continue throughout the fall, starting with customers enrolled in My Rewards+ or who join the program now. When completed, more than 95 percent of existing FiOS customers will enjoy the upgrade equalizing their Internet download and upload speeds.

comcastic

Both Comcast and Verizon are good homes for TiVo owners. Yet, my FiOS Internet remains cap-free (compared to Comcast’s indecision on the matter) and I’m permitted to stream HBO GO via Roku – factors that led me to Verizon in the first place. Of course, Comcast isn’t ready to give up on my business having enabled TiVo Xfinity On Demand across their footprint, with a slightly better channel lineup, and weekly mailers offering attractive promotional rates (including a $200 gift card). But do I really want to go to the hassle of making a change … in light of Verizon’s Slingbox-loving upload increase? Hm.

23 responses to Verizon Gets Symmetrical, Boosts FiOS Upload Speeds

  1. It’s probably worth pointing out that despite all this bandwidth, Verizon’s Netflix performance continues to degrade

    For the record, I’m on the 50/25 plan which means I’ll ultimately end up 50/50 should I stick around. No idea if my plan falls under “Quantum” branding or what I really need to function. Could I get by on 25/25, for example? My overall rate goes up at least $15/mo when my contract ends next month. Verizon did send a letter saying I could lock in some new discounted rate… if I agree to another two year contract. But contracts are off-putting. And it still irks me that the lower rate television plan gets BBCA where I don’t (leading to Amazon Instant purchases).

  2. When are you watching Netflix? Sometimes in the evenings Netflix drops to SD but not that often. I’m on FiOS in Ashburn using Tivo. Last night it was a bit slow loading but once loaded the video was fine. My internet plan is 75/35. Overall, I’ve found that Netflix is significantly better since switching to Tivo and not using the out of date TV apps.

  3. I generally use the Apple TV for Netflix and rarely have issues. I read something a while back that the apple tv uses a secondary CDN (limelight I think?) in addition to level 3 for Apple TV specifically. So I assume it checks whichever pathway has more overhead available and uses that.

  4. This is in response to the TWC “Maxx” program. This is what happens when you actually have competition, because Maxx itself was created in response to local regulatory commissions questioning TWC’s promises in LA and NYC alongside (scattered) FIOS availability.

    25 megabits is plenty of download bandwidth for anything short of file sharing. You’ll never notice the difference in streaming video, playing games, or normal browsing. Obviously more is better, of course.

    Regarding your pricing, common practice is to call in and threaten to cancel service to their retentions team if they don’t give you the new contract price. Quick google search says this works with FIOS.

  5. I joined the My Rewards+ program and got email confirmation that I’ve been upgraded from 50/25 to 50/50. I’m not at home to test, now mobile, and my services page doesn’t indicate the upgrade. But I’ll go ahead and assume if it’s not live now it’ll be live soon.

    Rodalpho, yeah been thinking 25/25 could be sufficient. Hm.

    TallMomof2, I’m on a Netflix hiatus. Note was based on complaints from my Twitter peeps and the Netflix broadband scorecard. I’m streaming more Amazon Instant Prime these days … which is kinda, sorta free.

  6. I really miss Verizon. Just moved to Colorado and every interaction with Comcast has been the absolute worst. Try ordering TV service and getting a cablecard! It seems impossible as a new customer. I am most likely going to DirecTV and will have to sell my TiVo equipment.

  7. “It’s probably worth pointing out that despite all this bandwidth, Verizon’s Netflix performance continues to degrade…”

    Does anyone believe Verizon in their PR war against Netflix and Level 3? Raise your hands. Anyone? Bueller?

    —–

    FWIW, beyond my Netflix experience that matches the Netflix charts, I also get occasional problems with Amazon video via FIOS as well. Amazon is able to automatedly tell there was a problem from their end, and issues me an immediate refund on paid video. But when it happens to Prime video, well no recourse comes to mind. And, of course, with FTTH and the lack of local loop congestion, there really is no explanation other than Verizon throttling OTT as a strategic plan.

    In the past I was willing to pay a premium for FIOS over the multiple coax wireline providers that serve my densely populated metro area. (Last time, I got a highly competitive deal via basic negotiation tactics, but I was willing to pay a premium.) But given how FIOS is dealing with OTT video, I no longer feel that way. When my contract is up, I’ll have tough decisions to make about who I prefer at equivalent price levels, and certainly won’t be willing to pay a premium for FIOS.

  8. Robert Seidman July 21, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    Unless the savings on Comcast would be significant or integrated On Demand is critical (if you have young children, it might be!) I’d let inertia do it’s thing and stick w/Verizon. Especially If you’re getting anywhere near 25Mbps upload speeds.

    Comcast Internet works great but even with a recent “free” upgrade to double speed (which does hit 60Mbps for downloads) the upload only increased from ~6Mbps to 12Mbps.

    the integrated on Demand works well — it actually is a little faster to get through the menus on the TiVo than it is on a run-of-the-mill STB (not sure how it works on X1). But…

    …at this point all of the broadcast and basic cable network stuff I’d watch are packed w/full commercial loads with fast-forwarding capabilities disabled, so I only find it useful for premium movie channels.

    If HBO is your only movie channel, unless you’re really into 3D (HBO movies that are in 3D are available in 3D via On Demand) which seems unlikely, your HBO Go setup offers more than what’s available On Demand.

  9. I had 25/25 for 4 years and 50/25 since the contract came up in December. (25/25 was no longer available, I had to take the 50/25 Quantum). Now that 25/25 is available again, last night I dropped back down.

    It’ll shave $10 off my bill and I know I won’t notice a difference (because I didn’t notice the gain). 25/25 could handle Netflix’s “normal” max of 5.8mbps SuperHD without a hitch before, so I expect the same once their little battle is over.

  10. “25/25 could handle Netflix’s “normal” max of 5.8mbps SuperHD without a hitch before, so I expect the same once their little battle is over.”

    I’m not sure why, exactly, you think this is going to be a temporary, “little” battle.

    It seems just as likely to me that Verizon is going to wage a long and strategic war against OTT services out of their control. The way they are waging their PR campaign based on confusion and lies especially doesn’t give me any confidence this will be a short war just to gain a few extra pennies from interconnect fees…

    (FWIW, I’ve long been a very happy FIOS customer. I spent a few years calling it “the sweet wire”. But the combination of the current psychotic throttling and the lies have drastically shifted my feelings. Lack of tuning adapters sure is nice, but I like OTT video and getting the bandwidth I pay for too…)

  11. Just a quick note that it doesn’t matter what speed you have from Verizon, your netflix connection will still usually be slow. More details can be found here

    http://iamnotaprogrammer.com/Verizon-Fios-Netflix-Vyprvpn.html

  12. “Just a quick note that it doesn’t matter what speed you have from Verizon, your netflix connection will still usually be slow.”

    And it’s not just Netflix. Netflix is such a massive percentage of download bandwidth that we all (understandably) focus on it. But FIOS is dramatically throttling a lot of other stuff too.

    The bandwidth you pay for from FIOS only applies to speeds inside the FIOS internal network, which is utterly meaningless to the end-user customer, and has no relation to real-world speeds between you and the internet, since FIOS is dramatically throttling bandwidth from numerous sources as they enter their internal network.

  13. DOuble check on the two year contract, it might be a very good deal. My last two year contract was ending and I was on the 150/65 tier, Ultimate HD, and home phone service.
    But I made a rash decision and decided to drop down to the 75/35 tier and save $20 for a new two year contract. With the 150/65 tier it was $160 a month, so I dropped down to $140 a month with the 75/35 service. But once i dropped down I realized I made a mistake and would have preferred the faster speed. But now that I dropped down, they would want $40 or $50 extra from me to go back to the 150Mb/s tier instead of the $20 difference it used to be. Plus with the new symmetrical tiers just announced, I could just kick myself for dropping down. I didn’t realize how good my price was at the time. Now I lost that price.

  14. I signed up for the Reward program this morning. When I got home I checked my speeds and on the FiOS speed test I am still getting 84Mb/s downloads, but the uploads are a speed 91Mb/s. Which is faster than when I was on the 150/65 tier. So that will be nice for uploading to my half dozen cloud storage services.

    I just wish I still had the 150 Mb/s tier. Every day, since dropping down, I realize how much I used it. And how much slower it now takes me to download many gigabytes for each game with my two Xbox Ones or my PS4. And other large software updates for all my PCs. EVery day since I downgraded I’ve had to wait longer for something, even though my download speed was being maxed out. Because it is just so much slower than when I had the 150Mb/s tier.

  15. Yeah, I think a reasonable price comparison might be between (Comcast) and (Verizon plus the cost a VPN to get around their interconnect blocks).

    I hate Verizon for the way they’re handling OTT.

    I hate Comcast for how badly they handle CableCARD.

    I hate Comcast for not enabling HBO Go on Roku etc.

    I hate Comcast for making me renegotiate everything frequently to get a reasonable price for anything (e.g. $10/mo for HBO rather than the default of $19.99 if you don’t ask).

    I have Time Warner for deploying SDV and forcing people to use Tuning Adapters.

    I hate all of them for lobbying to kill municipal broadband.

    I hate Verizon for suing to kill Network Neutrality at the FCC. Not that Comcast is any better.

    Blah blah blah.

    Who’s better?

    Obviously your internet speed (non-OTT) will be better with Verizon. The quality of your HD signals will be better with Verizon. The customer service is probably better at Verizon (FiOS). The OTT speed is probably better with Comcast for the moment. Your experience getting a CableCARD to work is W-A-Y better with Verizon.

    Pick your evils.

  16. I mostly agree with Glenn that all the players have warts and with Robert regarding inertia… a body at rest tends to stay at rest. It’s way simpler to stick with Verizon than blow up my current config which is mostly working. But I will probably try to shave a few bucks off the Verizon price bump in one way or another.

  17. An excellent sum-up of the various trade-offs, Glenn.

    “Pick your evils.”

    No doubt.

    It’s just a notably different situation than it was a year ago where FIOS was the clear choice for the desirable wire.

  18. HarryKerryJr. July 22, 2014 at 4:48 am

    Yes, the no cap is really great for Sling. I wish I had FiOS at my home. Verizon did upgrade to Fios at the other end of my city, but then stopped before getting to my end. I really would switch to FiOS for internet, even at a higher price because I could Sling to a remote locale with no worries. Data Caps are pure BS, although I understand the logic for pricing tiers for SPEED of service. However, the industry seems to be headed for a SINGLE price, a single HIGH price, providing very fast speeds, but still with caps, and that is bad because there are some folks who just need maybe 10/4 or whatever, and they could save some money at that rate. OK, fine make us pay the one high rate, but for that much money, take away the caps.

  19. Interesting timing for this announcement. Verizon insists that the peering connections are not equal. It would be nearly impossible for the peering to be equal since every customer usually double the down link versus up link (ex: 50/25). I can’t wait for Netflix to come out with a new way to stream, where all customers become small caches and use a P2P protocol. I jest, but can only hope.

    This all boils down to Verizon trying to show off good publicity. Just another mirage people, move along.

  20. Dave writes:

    “I assume this (Netflix and other services throttling) will get sorted. It’s just a question of which network/service will pay.”

    I really don’t understand why you assume this. It’s certainly possible. But given various data points in how FIOS has been conducting itself since the throttling began, (and even before), it seems equally likely to me that they are seeking a long-term strategy of seeking to cripple 3rd party OTT over their wire in order to drive their own services.

    Were this merely a dispute over pennies on peering, we’d likely be seeing different statements from Verizon, as well as more commonality with how other wireline providers are handling the issue.

  21. Via Michael Tsai, a nice FIOS Netflix test. 0.375 mbps from Netflix on a 75 mbps down FIOS contract.

    And, of course, the results are much quicker via the highly inefficient re-routing insanity of a VPN.

    Finally, for Dave, as the post points out, the Verizon/Level 3 conflict is about “thousands of dollars”, so again, I seriously question if this is really a question of “It’s just a question of which network/service will pay” rather than Verizon seeking to cripple services they don’t feel are in the best interests of their shareholders.

    And finally, finally, again, though the linked post doesn’t mention it, Netflix is not the the only source Netflix is throttling at 20:1 from what their customers are paying for…

  22. I’ll remain optimistic… but clearly won’t lock myself into another two year contract given the current situation.

  23. “but clearly won’t lock myself into another two year contract given the current situation.”

    Wise choice. Also, never a bad idea to let them know why you won’t lock into a contract…