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Verizon vs Optimum

Last updated: September 8, 2020

Starts at $39.99/mo
vs
Starts at $39.99/mo
  • Choosing an Internet provider sometimes feels like choosing between “the devil you know” and “the devil you don’t.”
  • Luckily, that’s not the case for customers with a choice between Fios and Optimum (also known as Cablevision or Optimum Online).
  • Verizon Fios and Cablevision are among the highest-ranked broadband providers in the US. Both provide above-average upload speeds, decent customer service, and are free of data caps. Their biggest differences come down to speed vs price and TV packages.

Quick Picks

The biggest difference between Fios and Optimum is that Fios is fiber, while Optimum is cable. Fiber generally offers better speeds and less latency (lag), but comes at a slightly higher price.

Verizon Fios: Recommended For Techies, Gamers, Cord Cutters & Home Offices

Recommended For:

  • Techies
  • Gamers
  • Cord Cutters
  • Home Offices

Verizon Fios is the premium option, although their budget options aren’t bad either. Fios generally costs more to install and comes with a higher monthly bill for top-shelf speeds in the “gigabit” range. Verizon’s plans are all contract-free.

Consider them if you work from home, want to stream on a 4k screen, are a serious gamer, or simply want the best upload speeds on the home Internet market.

Optimum by Altice: Recommended For Family Homes, Budget Shoppers & TV Fans

Recommended For:

  • Family Homes
  • Budget Shoppers
  • Tv Fans

Optimum Online from Cablevision is the middle-grade option. Their speeds are more than enough for the average household, and their service comes with easy installation and budget pricing.

Something that distinguishes Optimum is that they offer excellent month-to-month plans, which is a huge bonus for temporary residents or customers who just don’t want to feel locked in. Consider them if you care more about TV than Internet speed, want no-strings monthly billing, or are a short-term resident who needs flexible service.

Compare Verizon Fios and Optimum by Altice at a Glance

STATISTIC VERIZON FIOS OPTIMUM BY ALTICE
Price Range $39.99 – $129.99/mo+ $40.00 – $115.00/mo+
Connection Type(s) Fiber Cable & Fiber
Customer Recommendation Rating on BroadbandNow.com 62.6% 50.7%
ACSI Customer Service Rating 73/100 69/100
Netflix Ranking 2nd 9th
Population Served 34,765,005 12,437,931

“Verizon Fios vs Optimum” is a Question of “Fiber vs Cable”

The biggest difference between Fios and Optimum Online is their network technology. Fios is 100% fiber, while Optimum uses a hybrid fiber-coaxial cable network.

Fiber networks are designed for digital data, while cable networks were originally designed to carry cable TV signal. Both work for digital data, but fiber generally works better.

The big performance differences come down to upload speed and latency. Fiber generally outperforms cable in both categories.

Upload speed refers to how fast your connection can transmit data from your home network to a remote server. This speed matters most for activities like Skyping, uploading YouTube videos, and streaming on Twitch, where you are “broadcasting” as well as “receiving.”

Cable networks like optimum generally max out around 35 Mbps for uploads, even for faster plans where the download speed is several times higher. This is because coaxial cables were designed to move data one way (towards the customer) for the most part. Additionally, the average Internet user downloads much more than they upload, and won’t notice the speed difference.

Latency is the term for “lag,” like when a long-distance phone call feels out of sync. Latency matters most for gaming and video conferencing, which is why we recommend Fios for gamers and home offices.

A Common Feature: Small Coverage Footprints

Another thing Optimum Online and Verizon Fios have in common is a small coverage area. Both carriers fall under the “boutique” category of above-average service in a relatively small service area. Currently, the only overlap is in the Tri-state area — mainly New York.

Fios vs Optimum Download Speed

Speed is the metric where Verizon Fios is hard to beat. While both providers have budget plans in the 50–100 Mbps download range, Fios owns the speed charts because of its fiber to the home infrastructure.

CITY VERIZON FIOS SPEED OPTIMUM BY ALTICE SPEED
Bay Shore 305.68 Mbps 273.16 Mbps
Bayonne 289.31 Mbps 417.04 Mbps
Brentwood 418.58 Mbps 225.4 Mbps
Bronx 346.54 Mbps 211.1 Mbps
Brooklyn 353.76 Mbps 196.76 Mbps
Clifton 625.47 Mbps 181.49 Mbps
East Orange 324.02 Mbps 200.86 Mbps
Elizabeth 310.9 Mbps 204.24 Mbps
Mount Vernon 293 Mbps 93.29 Mbps
New Rochelle 414.66 Mbps 230.71 Mbps
Newark 301.11 Mbps 190.69 Mbps
Passaic 264.54 Mbps 167.3 Mbps
Paterson 244.14 Mbps 175.11 Mbps
Poughkeepsie 220.85 Mbps 212.14 Mbps
Trenton 339.46 Mbps 269.64 Mbps
Union City 309.58 Mbps 204.57 Mbps
Valley Stream 266.75 Mbps 186.95 Mbps
West New York 280.76 Mbps 216.05 Mbps
White Plains 439.93 Mbps 203.85 Mbps
Yonkers 443.03 Mbps 209.39 Mbps

Speeds above are based on 21,058,966 speed tests over the trailing 12 months.

Verizon took a big gamble investing in new fiber infrastructure. It’s a bet that paid off when the cord-cutting phenomena (AKA Netflix, Hulu, Sling) stormed the market — leaving traditional cable providers to play catch-up. Fiber is also future-proofed for future bandwidth-intensive technologies like 4k TV screens and smart homes that are already entering the mainstream market.

Verizon Fios was well-positioned to benefit from the streaming craze, and is our top pick for cord cutters.

Verizon often advertises their top speed Internet plans as “gigabit,” but they actually fall short of 1,000 Mbps (1 Gigabit/sec) in most cases. That said, download speeds over 800 Mbps are still nearly 8x what you get from Cablevision, and more than 20x their maximum upload speed.

Customer Service: Mixed Ratings on Both Sides

Optimum Online and Verizon Fios both do better than average when it comes to customer service. Because they both serve smaller areas, they tend to give more personalized service than some other large Internet providers, although they’ve both had some PR scares in the past.

Fios, for example, was recently the subject of a lawsuit from the state of New York over their alleged failure to build out Fios service as promised in a contract with the city. Verizon has stated that the slow expansion is largely due to difficulty gaining access to buildings from non-compliant landlords.

Optimum also got a bit of bad press for using the “free” routers packaged with their plans as hubs in their public Wi-Fi network. Comcast was under fire for a similar practice recently, although they made it possible for customers to turn off the public Wi-Fi feature.

Equipment and Installation: Optimum Wins for Flexibility

The process for installing and setting up Fios is a bit quirky since the equipment for fiber is different from traditional cable or DSL and has to be installed from scratch. Because of this, it often takes longer and you might have to wait a few days for a technician to be available.

Optimum is also quirky, in that they provide separate modem/router units rather than the combo “gateway” unit favored by larger cable providers. That said, having a dedicated modem and router is actually a good feature for customers who want to enhance their home network.

Installation Considerations and Fees

Fios can take anywhere from 2–8 hours to install the ONT box and wiring needed within your home. Definitely set aside a full day to be available for the technician appointment. There is usually a $99 fee for installation, although this fee is waived for customers who order Verizon Fios online.

If you just want service as fast as possible, it’s likely you can install Optimum yourself with a self-install kit. This is just a question of hooking the modem and router up to the cable jack in your house and having an Optimum rep talk you through activation over the phone.

Modem and Router Leasing Fees

Verizon Fios encourages customers to use their default gateway device, the Fios Quantum Gateway router, for a fee of $15/month. This rental fee is waived for customers who purchase the Fios Gigabit Connection. They also offer the option to purchase the router outright, although you might find a better price from a third-party retailer. (Just keep in mind that you get what you pay for.)

If you want to save the monthly fee and use your own router that isn’t a Verizon router, you’ll have to ask them to switch your ONT (Optical Network Terminal) box to ethernet and run an ethernet wire to your router. This can be tricky if it’s a long trip between your ONT and your living room — but likely worth it if you want to use a fancier third-party router. More information on this is available in our Verizon Fios review.

Optimum Online charges a $5/month fee for their standard modem. They include a high-speed router for free, although it will double as a public Wi-Fi hotspot. While the public network is separate from your personal one, this practice has raised security concerns for some customers.

Purchasing your own router for Optimum will save you money in the long run. Optimum provides information on compatible models on their site.

Verizon Fios vs Optimum TV Plans: Fios is Usually the Stronger Value

Fios is the premier pick for 4k and ultra-high-def content. Optimum wins out on variety and pricing.

Measuring up TV plans between Optimum and Fios is tricky since they’re so customizable.

If you’re a sports fan or just want the maximum amount of channels possible, definitely take a close look at Optimum. As of today, Optimum Online offers 620 channels, with 165 in HD.

For the “average” TV fan, we recommend Fios. They have fewer channels overall (~425, with 140 HD), but they offer flexible bundle options to make sure the channels you do want are available.

Fios vs Optimum DVRs

Optimum currently wins the DVR game, with an overall stronger device at a third of the cost. Verizon has three different DVR models, but their Multi-Room DVR – Premium model, which is the most comparable to Optimum’s DVR, is pricey at $30/month, while Optimum only charges $10.99/month. The main catch with Optimum is that they charge an extra $16 for advanced DVR functionality, but this still comes out to ~$27/month which saves you around $3 compared to Fios.

The Fios Multi-Room DVR – Premium maxes out at 200 hours of HD recording across 12 channels. Optimum’s DVR can handle up to 300 hours of HD, simultaneously recording over 15 channels. Overall, Optimum’s DVR is better for a large household, but can get expensive as you multiply out that $27 fee over the number of boxes needed to service your TVs.

For more basic DVR options, Verizon Fios offers the Multi-Room DVR – Enhanced for $20/month and the Basic DVR for $12/month. The Basic DVR can record two shows simultaneously and store 50 hours of HD content, while the Enhanced DVR can handle six shows at once and store 100 hours in HD. For certain TV packages the Basic DVR fee is waived.

Verizon Fios vs Optimum: Fios Takes the Cake For Speed, While Optimum Offers Strong TV Value and Convenience

Long story short: do you identify as a techie? Pick Fios. Budget shopper with a TV habit? Pick Optimum.

Fios will cost you extra, but we personally feel that it’s worth it for the quality of connection. If you do any streaming, video conferencing, or share the connection with family or roommates, you’ll notice the difference.

Since both services are data-cap free, you can Netflix to your heart’s content regardless of whether you go with a Fios or Optimum Internet plan. That said, both have strong TV bundles worth the cash if you watch regularly.

Last but not least: Optimum has a 30-day money-back policy, while Verizon Fios has no contracts and customers pay on a month-to-month basis. So whichever you choose, you can always switch if it doesn’t work out — just be sure to do it within the first month if you go with Optimum.

References and Footnotes

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cablevision
  2. https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/03/nyc-sues-verizon-alleges-failure-to-complete-citywide-fiber-rollout/

One thought on “Verizon Fios vs Optimum Online

  1. Avatar Stan says:

    Verizon have bad unprofessional technicans.

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