Good News About FiOS TV

I’ve already made my decision. For now, I’m sticking with Comcast for HDTV and cable. But I’m willing to admit that, very likely, some of my concerns about the potential to impinge on FiOS Internet bandwidth may have been unfounded.

Martin Heller, a past colleague of mine who reads the newsletter, wrote me to tell me that he tested FiOS TV related to my concern about erosion of broadband Internet performance while data-intensive, on-demand programming was being downloaded and played, and the results are very encouraging. Martin wrote:

“I did a controlled FiOS speed test using the Speakeasy.net speed test, with and without an on-demand movie playing. Internet bandwidth was not affected by the TV in my tests: I measured 20Mbps down and 4Mbps up whether or not on-demand programming was playing.

“I did notice some latency that seemed to correlate with the TV activity. Without any TV activity, the speed test dial jumped immediately to 10+, moving up more gradually from there. With the on-demand movie going, it took a second for the speed reading to go up, but by the end of the test it was at essentially the same value as the tests run without TV activity.”

Thank you, Martin, for performing this test.

This doesn’t address all my problems with FiOS TV; I don’t like the Actiontec router they want me to use, nor the way the connections are configured. Most of all, though, as a typical customer, I had trouble getting Verizon to give me a straight answer about how this works. I suspected that Verizon had protected the Internet bandwidth, but wanted to understand how that was accomplished.

But because of the newsletter, I was able to get a back channel directly to the some Verizon FiOS engineers who explained to me why Martin’s tests worked.

One of SFNL’s readers, Peter Gray, a recently retired Verizon engineer, contacted Verizon’s engineers on my behalf. I was emailed this statement from Jimmy Ho, one of Verizon’s FiOS engineers:

“The Verizon network is capable of speeds higher than what a customer signs up for. Even though a customer opts for, in [your case], the 15Mbps service, the rate limiting is only performed on the data service while the video service, which is carried in the same 1490 downstream, utilizes a much higher limit.”

Thanks to Peter Gray for facilitating this communication, and to the Verizon engineers and product managers who were part of the discussion. Between Martin’s tests and this explanation, I now understand how it works and believe it.

It’s a shame the two support people and the field tech I talked to before I terminated my installation couldn’t have given me this information. In the field tech’s defense, he at least wanted to explain but hadn’t been given the information.

Just as I was getting ready to mail this issue of the newsletter, I was contacted by Frank Boersma, Director, STB & In-Home Network Engineering, Verizon Video Network Services. I hope to talk to him later this week about the Actiontec router.

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