Thursday, February 01, 2007


Speed Matters! Verizon's FIOS screams!

The easiest connection speed test I've ever used is at, sponsored by the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the union for telco workers. The test is a bit obscured by a confusing web design, with pointers to principles, links to white papers, et cetera.

The button, "TEST YOUR SPEED NOW" is on the right side of the home page, right under "Browse Document Library," and "Join the Movement." It is rendered blandly. It is big enough, but so bland it is hard to see. (Note to CWA: tell the painters' union to make it bright red next time!)

Once you see it, it's simple. You push the button, enter your ZIP code and email, and voila! My results, depicted below, are astoundingly good. Nominally my FIOS is 15 mbit/s down and 5 mbit/s up. The test shows 14.3 down and 4.4 up. (I've had worse at other times of the day, but hey, it's 2PM on a weekday right now.) I am impressed. (My uploads are 3x faster than Japan's prevailing upload speed! Woo hoo!)

I have DSL too. (Also from Verizon.) And it, too, is as-advertised. I get 1.524 mbit/s downloads and .373 mbit/s uploads.

There are only two moderately negative things I have observed about FIOS. (1) The PON architecture, especially the asymmetry, embody built-in assumptions that the telco is boss. (2) Much more on the practical side, often there are often noticeable (or longer) delays at the beginning of a download that appear to be due to slow DNS lookups.

On the whole, though, if you can't move to Japan, get FIOS.

And even if FIOS doesn't pass your house, you can still take the connection speed test at!

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Another Flash-based one is at; you don't have to enter your ZIP code or email, and you can choose the server you benchmark against.
I seem to remember that you use OS X. Apple has a "broadband tuner" that (I think) sets the sysctl settings to increase payload size. (FiOS is high speed, but high latency)

I haven't tested - FiOS isn't available (Optonline is much much better than Verizon's DSL here)
If Verizon's DNS is slow, just use someone else's. is what I use.
the funny thing was my test (1.9 down, .38 up) shows my as 50%/35% of the canadian speeds and of course I am in canada!

I love what they are trying to do but am always frustrated when canada is held out as a paragon of virtue in the broadband battles. it sucks here too.
I called Verizon FIOS to order phone, internet, and cable prior to my move in. My Consumer Order Summary was dated 3-28-08, and the scheduled installation date was 4-7-08. I reviewed the e-mail and all looked well. I move into my new house and install date comes. They setup an 8 AM-noon window. I already had the Optical Network Terminal unit (ONT) in my house, so I figured this would be cake for them. I am a Sys Admin at an ISP, so the internet stuff I could do myself with ease.

On install day, no one showed, no one called. I had my mobile with me at ALL times. So around 1:30 PM I called Verizon to see what was going on. If something came up, I had a week off to move in and if they needed to come by in a day or two, I was totally cool with that. After about an hour on hold I got in touch with a “state level” dispatcher. That said that there were “no facilities available for my order” and I was called. Nope, I wasn’t called; they did have my cell (which I had with me all of the time) in their records. I wanted them to come out later in the week if possible since I was home. They said that their next available time for me was 4-12-08, which was a day where I was going to a wedding. The next available time after that was at the end of the month, on a work day for me.

Basically because they did not show up, or even notify me with a reason, they put me at the back of the line. I was trying to escalate my request and the support only gave me unreasonable dates and that “no facilities available for my order” BS. I later wanted to get my copper line put back so I could at least get phone service, and after a long wait in hold they gave me the end of the month as a date. Basically I was being run around in circles and being shoved to the end of the line because Verizon screwed up my installation. I was told the only way I could get it sooner is if I “knew an installer who’d do me a favor,” and I was pretty much screwed with the window of time I had to get the service installed. The salesperson fed me a load of bull and the installer didn’t even call me with a reason. I tried to figure out what “no facilities available for my order” meant, and why this was such a problem since I already had the ONT in my house. Half of their work was already done.

The same day, I called a local cable company who installed my phone, internet, and cable the next day. They showed up on time and did the normal pre and post appointment verification. I unplugged the ONT in my house and let the battery go out. Verizon gave me such a lousy customer experience I swore I would never do business with them, and be sure to let other people know about their awful customer service and commitments they setup and do not honor. Verizon screwed up prior when they bought Bell Atlantic, and screwed up our perfectly find DSL service I had around 98/99. My money is going to a competitor, and Verizon won’t see it because they have abysmal customer service. I am certainly interested in fiber optic lines connected to my house, but so long as Verizon is the only provider, I will happily do without.

Herndon, VA
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