When you receive an invitation from Verizon to have fiber optic service installed to your home, you may meet this invitation with the weariness of the typical consumer. After all, aren’t you bombarded daily with yet another broadband, DSL, high-speed-whatever solicitation? But Verizon FiOS is an entirely different animal: a fat data pipeline for Internet, TV, and telephone carried not over common carrier telephone wires but over entirely separate fiber optic wires laid down specifically for this purpose. If you’re any kind of technophile, you’ll probably leap at the chance. Let’s look at the installation process first.
Can You Even Get FiOS?
Dial-up Internet service is available nearly anywhere, because it is carried over telephone lines. Broadband, though less available, still can be found in most communities in developed nations because it too is carried over phone lines. But FiOS is a different story. FiOS lines come straight to your house, completely separate of any existing lines. You will need to first check Verizon dot Com to determine if FiOS is even close to your home. Unfortunately,Verizon FiOS is unavailable in more places now than where it is available. Here’s a story to illustrate.
When I had Verizon FiOS installed, I naturally chatted with the technician about the service as he worked. He was very knowledgeable about the subject. But it was only toward the end of the hour that he somewhat sheepishly admitted that he had no FiOS service in his home, and that outside of work, he had never used it. This is a powerful story because he, like I, lived in a dense urban area with a huge tech-savvy base of people.
Street Installation of FiOS
The first sign that FiOS is coming to your community is when you see installers laying down the main lines along your street. Depending on your community, this takes either of two forms.First, Verizon might string the main fiber optic cables on telephone poles, alongside existing telephone, cable, and other wires. This is Verizon’s preferred method, because it is cheaper.The second method is underground. Because my community has such restrictions (buried powerlines, etc.), Verizon installed their fiber optic cables underground, too. Rather than trenching with backhoes, Verizon subcontractors will usually drill horizontal holes with a special machine called a “hog,” sort of like drilling an oil well but digging it horizontally instead of vertically. Also, because of obstructions, the digging is intermittent.
From the Distribution Box to Your House:The Outside Installer
Now FiOS is on your street. But it’s not at your house yet. Only after you place an order for FiOS will Verizon come out and bring the wire to your house.Outside installers—this time actual Verizon employees, not subcontractors—will first come to your house to assess how to bring the line to your house. While it’s not necessary to be there, I recommend that you do so. This will help you have control over how it is done. Verizon is excellent about listening to customers about this issue, because this is your property.
When the outside installers arrive, they may either run the wire above ground or below ground. In my case, another horizontal driller was brought in and two holes were dug to span the approximately 25 feet from street to house. It was quite impressive: not a single flower or blade of grass was disturbed. However, you might note that in some cases Verizon will trench the line to your house.
Into Your House: The Inside Installer
Interior installation happens on your scheduled installation day, and you must be available for about four hours. I recommend giving Verizon your undivided attention. This doesn’t mean hovering over them; it only means being available when they call for you. And call they will.You’ll need to be aware of three units. First there is the Optical Network Terminal. This is the big, unattractive box that receives the fiber optic line from the street. It may be installed inside or outside of a structure—usually a garage. Verizon recommends outside so that they can service it more easily. This box, called an ONT, can be painted to make it blend in with the house.
From there, wires are brought into the garage, into yet two more units. One unit is simply an adapter that plugs into an outlet (yes, make sure you have a non-GFCI outlet available) and the other is the battery backup.After those two units are installed, the technician will ask how you want to run the last wires into your house. You’ll need to decide on a room (closest to the battery backup and adapter units is best), and then how you want those wires to run through the garage to that room.
Into Your Home Office: The Magic Begins
The last stage is where the technician brings the wires into the end point—usually a home office. An Ethernet or coaxial cable run to the modem, and from there to a computer. At first, the technician will use his own computer to make sure everything is up and running.
After about twenty minutes, the technician will want to hook into your computer. There isn’t much to it, other than plugging the Ethernet cable into the back of your computer. Also, the technician will point out the Verizon on-line services, but in my case it wasn’t a hardsell by any means. More like something he was duty-bound to mention.
Then the technician may log into a website that tests your computer’s connection speed. And please try your best not to break into a laugh of joy as you see the “needle” on the indicator register blazing speeds over 15 mbps.
Find Out If Verizon FiOS Is Available in Your Area!