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Gigabit Fiber-Optic Internet and Fios TV
For most Americans, choosing an internet provider means deciding between cable and DSL. For the lucky few in fiber serviceable areas, providers like Verizon Fios offer a long-awaited third option.
‘Fiber’ is more than just a buzzword — it’s the first major upgrade to home internet plans since broadband replaced dial-up in the late 90s. The speed upgrade is just as dramatic, offering gigabit service of up to 1000 Mbps, more than 10x faster than traditional cable and DSL.
Verizon Fios is currently available to over 34 million people across nine states. This makes Verizon the largest US residential fiber provider by coverage area, as of 2020.
Companies like AT&T, CenturyLink, Frontier, and Optimum have also expanded their fiber coverage in recent years. But Verizon Fios consistently tops the charts for customer satisfaction and reliability. It also comes with no annual contract, so you can cancel anytime with no early termination fees.
If you're looking to compare plans, make sure to check out our detailed guide on the latest Verizon Fios deals and promotions.
Verizon Fios is a 100% fiber-optic network. Fiber cables are the gold standard for transporting digital data, far superior to “analog” options like coaxial cable (think TV) and DSL (think landline phones).
Most internet providers use fiber to transmit data over long distances, but use cheaper options like cable to physically connect their mainstream fiber networks with individual homes. This slows the transmission of data and decreases your internet performance.
By replacing these cable lines with fiber and installing “Fiber-to-the-Home” (FTTH) — that is, not just halfway there — companies like Verizon are bridging the gap and bringing faster internet service to residential subscribers.
Verizon Fios is consistently rated one of the top fiber internet providers in the country, and competing cable providers are struggling to earn customers in areas where they overlap.
If the internet is an “information superhighway,” think of bandwidth as lanes on that highway. The more lanes you have, the more efficient it is for traffic to spread out and move as quickly as possible.
In this analogy, Fios is an Interstate network. Cable is a local highway route, and DSL is a winding country road.
…What about dial-up? Probably a hiking trail.
In addition to having more space for individual “data lanes” in fiber networks, the speed limit is also much higher, since information is transmitted as light rather than radio frequency transmission. The speed of light is famously unmatched, resulting in much less latency for 100% fiber networks like Fios.
The other major Fios advantage is that the lines carrying internet data aren’t sharing bandwidth with traditional phone or TV, which can lead to signal loss and slower-than-advertised speeds on cable and DSL networks.
The biggest drawback to Verizon Fios is its limited availability. As of 2020, Fios only serves a number of densely populated areas across New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Delaware, Connecticut, and Washington D.C.
The high cost of fiber installation makes it difficult to serve rural customers. As technology advances and costs decrease, we should start to see fiber service expand nationwide.
If Verizon Fios doesn’t serve your area, try checking your coverage with other fiber providers like AT&T, CenturyLink, Frontier, Google Fiber, and Optimum.
The company also sold some of their network to Frontier Communications in 2016, although Frontier seems committed to continuing to expand FTTH (Fiber to the Home) network development in those areas.
Real-world speeds of Verizon Fios service based on IP verified users in various cities. This data is based on 4,544,870 speed tests.
Fios installation usually takes much longer than a standard cable or DSL install. Budget 4–6 hours for the technician to be in your home. An adult must be present throughout the entire installation process.
The reason it takes longer is because fiber internet has advanced hardware requirements. Rather than simply configuring a new modem/router on your existing cable or phone jack, the Fios technician will have to install a completely new system, including an ONT (Optical Network Terminal), new in-house cabling, and configure all your set-top boxes for TV service.
The process usually looks like this:
Don’t worry, you won’t have to do any of this yourself.
Verizon is trying very hard to win over cable and DSL customers, and they’re doing it through aggressive pricing on Fios bundles.
You can see the latest Verizon Fios Deals and promotions on their bundles.
While Verizon Fios required two-year contracts for their bundles in the past, they are now contract free.
Bundle deals are great opportunities for customers who plan on using TV and/or phone service regularly. Just be sure to check the promotional price against the final monthly price when signing up.
If you aren’t happy with the amount you’re paying for internet, TV and phone service, you can always try and negotiate your Fios bill.
Be warned, we’ve found Verizon Fios to be one of the more difficult providers to negotiate with. But there are a few tactics that just might work to save you some money.
In short, yes — you can use your own router with Verizon Fios.
When you sign up, Fios will probably make it seem like using your own router isn’t an option. In fact, they only offer one rental option: the Fios Home Router (which replaced the Fios Quantum Gateway). Customers can either rent this router for $15/month or purchase it for $299.99.
To be honest, using Verizon-branded equipment is a good idea for most customers, especially on the faster “gigabit” plans. The equipment rental fee is waived for the Fios Gigabit Connection, so the router comes with the plan at no extra cost!
However, using your own router is absolutely an option if you’re willing to put in the extra elbow grease to set it up. This will save you the monthly rental fee, and open up advanced home networking possibilities for Internet power users.
Be sure to know that Verizon Fios uses a slightly different hardware setup than cable and DSL:
Traditional cable/DSL setup: The modem/router gateway plugs into your existing cable/phone jack.
Verizon Fios setup: The modem/router gateway plugs into an ONT (Optical Network Terminal) box outside your home or apartment via a coaxial cable.
You have three options for hooking up your own router to the Fios ONT system:
This doesn’t save you the up-front cost of the Verizon router, but it’s the best option if you simply want to expand your home network and unlock advanced router features. Simply attach your new router to the LAN port of the Verizon gateway and follow the new router’s setup wizard to establish an Internet connection and disable Wi-Fi on the old router.
Fios will push for coaxial cable in-home when they install the ONT box because it’s a good choice the TV services they offer alongside internet. If you have an internet-only plan under 100Mbps up/down, you can simply use the ONT’s Ethernet jack and use it as the “modem” for your router. First, find an Ethernet wire long enough to connect the router in your house to the ONT box. Then call Verizon customer care and ask for a DHCP release/renew. They’ll walk you through it over the phone, and once it’s been switched you should be able to set up your router as normal.
If you want to maintain your set-top box functionality and other Fios TV features intact, or expand your home network radically on a gigabit plan, setting up a custom network becomes more complex than we can cover here. Methods change depending on the hardware that’s current and service offerings in your area. Until we publish our guide to advanced home networking with Verizon Fios, customer reports on hacks and workarounds can be found through searching online forums.
If your primary concern as an internet user is cost, Verizon Fios might not be the best place to look.
If your top priority is quality of service, however, then you should absolutely try it out.
The speeds can’t be beaten, and the future-proof fiber network is sure to meet your needs for years to come as your bandwidth requirements grow along with consumer technology.