Fios TV Review – Update
It has been 6+ months since I signed up for Verizon Fios TV, and I have new information to share. Essentially this is a follow up review to the original article on Verizon Fios TV. A few months back I was actually considering canceling the service due to some playback issues. The video was frequently choppy and almost unwatchable. When I called Verizon about the issue, they convinced me to give them another try by crediting my bill for one month of service, and sending a technician out to resolve the issue.
If you’re thinking about upgrading to Fios:
- Check with Verizon for availability: Can you get Fios TV?
- Then follow this link for the current specials: Fios TV Specials
You can read more details here: How to order Fios
At the time the video issues were not a big deal because I also had Dish Network. Once I let them know of the issue, a technician came right out. It turns out there was a known issue that was being caused by the Home Media DVR service. This is the service that allows standard definition recordings to be played back from any set top box in the house. It also can connect to a PC (through the Fios network) for music playback and picture viewing. These are neat features, but at $7/month extra, I really did not use them enough. The biggest limitation of this feature is that playback sharing only works on SD recordings. Most shows I record are in HD from the main TV in the house.
Well I suppose removing this feature would have addressed the video issues I was having, but still the technician updated the firmware on my Actiontec router, which was supposed to address the issue with Home Media DVR. He also went ahead and swapped out my Motorola QIP6416 with a brand new one just in case. I was very pleased with the service call.
Interactive Media Guide
If you haven’t already heard, Verizon will be launching the all new Interactive Media Guide (IMG), also known as Fios TV 2.0, nationwide sometime this summer. It has already launched in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Verizon put together an interactive demonstration of the new guide at: http://www.verizonfios.com/img/
This new interface is not just the guide date display on the TV, it’s the entire software program that runs the set top boxes. This could make a big impact on the Fios TV experience, especially since the only complaints and issues with the Fios TV service have to do with the current software that runs the set top boxes. How much improvement the new software will make remains to be seen, but I’m excited to test it.
The original interface was developed by Microsoft and Motorola back in 2005. Since then, they were supposed to make a new and improved version, but continued problems and delays forced Verizon to engineer their own. It definitely looks promising. Lets hope it is!
- High Definition Video on Demand: Fios TV already offers one of the biggest VOD libraries available. The only feature it lacks is high definition. I’ve been told be Verizon service reps that this capability will be enabled soon. When it does, cable and satellite companies better watch out. I believe this will be a HUGE advantage for Fios and no doubt will be my favorite feature. The ability to offer possibly thousands of titles on demand in HD is not something that any other provider will be able to do any time soon.
- PIP: As I noted in my original review, Fios TV does not currently offer PIP, even though the buttons exist on the remote. We’ll I’ve been told that this feature will become active very soon, possibly with the IMG upgrade.
Actiontec MI424WR Fios Router
This router has now been re-branded with Verizon’s name and has a new look. I believe firmware is compatible with the new an old version. For those looking to upgrade your router firmware on your own, go to: http://www2.verizon.net/micro/actiontec/actiontec.asp
Set Top Boxes
No updates with the equipment currently offered by Verizon. I am not aware of any purchase options either. The set top boxes must be leased at 4.99/9.99/12.99 per month for regular/HD/HD+DVR respectively. They do also offer a digital cable card lease for $2.99/month. You may also provide your own Digital Cable Ready (DCR) cable card to view Fios programming. I do not believe there is any additional charge for this, but some features such as VOD and widgets will not be available. PPV through a cable card is only possible by calling Verizon to order a PPV program.
These features don’t work because they are enabled by IP technology. The Motorola STBs (QIP2500, QIP6200, and QIP6416) are actually custom hybrid systems that use QAM to deliver scheduled programming and IP to deliver on-demand video and other interactive features. QAM is the same technology used by cable companies, and therefore Fios is compatible with DCR cable cards. It is their intention to eventually move to an IP only network, which will not be compatible with current cable cards.
It seems that Verizon Fios is one of the best deals for TV and entertainment service. $42.99+12.99 per month gives you a full programming set with DVR and HD, no other satellite or cable provider can say that. It is true that you’ll need a set top box to receive any channels beyond locals, but this will be the case for all providers in the future. Even Verizon will remove the analog broadcast of local channels on Fios by February 2009 to comply with new FCC regulations. According to these new laws all TVs will require a digital tuner, either an external set top box, or a built-in tuner or cable card. This is something to keep in mind.
I have actually canceled my Dish Network service and am sticking with Fios TV. If anyone is still unsure about switching, you can always try Fios TV for a month or so and see how it compares to your existing provider (like I did). If you call your current provider to cancel service, they will in most cases, offer you an incentive to stay, i.e. Dish offered me 1 month free service to do side-by-side comparison with Fios. Nevertheless I canceled Dish and went with Fios. I was quite happy with Dish Network service, I just like Fios a little better, and it costs less.
If you’re thinking about upgrading to Fios:
- Check with Verizon for availability: Can you get Fios TV?
- Then follow this link for the current specials: Fios TV Specials
You can read more details here: How to order Fios
For more information on Fios TV, check these related articles:
- Verizon Fios TV – an in-depth review
- Fios IMG – first look at the new interface
- HD Channels set to increase
To ask questions and share information regarding Fios, please check out the Fios Forum.
Any idea if Verizon is planning to upgrade the disk space for the DVR or if there is a way to hack it? Their website shows a capacity for only 18 hours of HD. My wife will have that full in about 3 days!
The above quote seems to say to me that I will not be able to continue to use the 2 extra VCR’s beside the one I have hooked up through the STB. The 2 extra VCR’s record my local channels very nicely. Without this capability, I would only be able record thru the 2 STBs I am paying for. This would greatly limit my recording choices. Could you please elaborate on my possible future recording choices? I do NOT have a DVR.
This is correct. According to the planned DTV transition deadline, all analog broadcasts will cease by February 17th, 2009. All analog tv’s or vcr’s will require a digital converter box to receive programming. The STB’s provided by Verizon is a digital converter. In order to record multiple programs at the same time, you would need that many STB’s (each connected through your VCR). You should consider DVR for ease of recording. Also, one DVR STB has two tuners built in. The only advantage to using a VCR is for archiving video tapes. For more info on the DTV transition, visit: http://www.dtv.gov/
I am considerin gthis service. One reason is they carry NFL Network at no extra charge. If I have only analog TV’s will the QIP 2500 box be sufficient? Do I need to rent one for each room?
To receive a channel like NFL Network, you would need a set top box (QIP 2500, etc).
Weird question if I may. What happens If I don’t get the Fios TV but only get the Fios internet and I hook up a tv to the coaxial outlet. Will I get any channels? Just curious…. Thanks!
Duane, do you have any “inside” knowledge on sports packages that will/might be added to FIOS? In my case, I’d be interested in NHL Center Ice.
oo ahh I all ready have verizon tv and there Microsoft look sucks, so how do i get this will there be some software update to wait for or do i have to buy something new??
new img is a poor replacement for the previous program. it has many bugs and does not perform well at all. frame by frame advancement isn’t possible without a pop up info window in the middle of the screen.
Our house was built about 2 1/2 years ago with fiber optics. I don’t have the problem with having to switch the wiring around. What’s so frustrating is knowing that I’m wired but not having the service in my area. Verizon is supposed to “notify” me when it does become available. How does Verizon determine when to make available the service? Any suggestions?
Regarding Roberts question… ,”Weird question if I may. What happens If I don’t get the Fios TV but only get the Fios internet and I hook up a tv to the coaxial outlet. Will I get any channels? Just curious…. Thanks”!
You will not getany channels out of the coaxial connection if you do not order Fios TV. The optical terminating unit that goes on the side of your house must be provisioned to receive Fios TV broadcasts. Also, most Fios installs are now done using MOCA technology which utilizes the coax connection for Internet and TV. You would still need to subscribe to Fios TV to get channels even with MOCA. All said… Verizon Fios TV blows everything else away in regard to picture quality and has unlimited bandwidth potential as more HD channels are added to the line up.
Hey dc, what area are you located? I know the new IMG has not been released nationwide (I don’t have it yet). They released it in certain areas first to work out the bugs. We’ll see if those get worked out before nation-wide rollout.
Is the FIOS Service and te cable cards compatible with TIVO Series 3 HD DVR? What features do you loose?
I have the HD DVR and an unusual problem. The picture on CNN and especially the Larry King show continually breaks up. The tech that came out said the install was perfect but gave me a new box anyway but it still does it. This was the only channel it happened on until tonight I noticed the same thing on TBS and the baseball playoffs. Anyone have any ideas on what’s wrong or how to fix it?
Had Verizon Fios installed today and am happy with the features and channel lineup over my tired old cable, analog service. I have the Premier package and did not include DVR capabilities. I use my VCR every day and on the old system routed the cable IN to the VCR, VCR OUT to the cable box, cable box to TV. This makes the VCR “cable ready,” allowing me to tape one channel, while watching another. Unfortunately, with the Verizon set top box lacking a channel 3 for aux. use, it appears I cannot route the cable IN directly through my VCR and watch/record channel through the VCR. This means I have to babysit every show I want to tape, making sure the cable box is set on whatever channel I want to record, and the timed VCR programs set to record channel 3. This sux, especially when I’m going to be out all day and want to tape more than one show on different channels. I don’t have a HD TV and don’t plan on getting one. Should I dump the VCR and upgrade with Verizon to get the DVR? Any other suggestions?
I am thinking of getting FIOS ( triple play ) I have 4 VCR’s. I plan on having 3 set top boxes now with two VCR’s out of these 3 sets. Will I be able to tape different programs on each of the 2 TV sets with set top boxes and local channels on the other 2 VCR’s?
Then, what happens in 2009 with these 4 VCR’s? I am assuming if I have 2 set top boxes for the 2 connected via these set top boxes these do not change but the 2 with local channels only will require an analog converter? I do not want to pay addtional set top box charges to get and tape local channels only. Appreciate your response.
Dianne- I would definitely recommend the DVR. It is so much less hassle. Just select your show in the on screen guide and click record. There is no charge for DVR service. You just have to pay for the equipment lease, which is $12.99 per month for the HD + DVR set top box.
bob- Yes you can record different channels with each set top box plus any local channels via analog. Come 2009, I expect there will be additional equipment lease/purchase options, but yes any analog device will require a converter, even to receive local stations via an antenna.
Are you sure about Verizon discontinuing the analog channels in February 2009? The FCC mandate to shut off all analog broadcasts applies to “over-the-air” broadcast stations only, not cable providers. According to the FCC run site, DTVanswers.com, one way for people to keep their old TV and VCRs, connected to an off-air antenna, working is to subscribe to cable or satellite tv (the other two being buy a new TV and/or get an ATSC digital off-air set-top box). So I tend not to believe what you said about the analog channels on Fios TV going off the air in 2-17-2009. If this was the case, why bother to have a limited package of analog channels in the first place. I suspect companies like Comcast will be cutting down their analog packages since they need the bandwidth for more HD digital content. Here in Portland, they already cut five channels out of the lineup and I suspect more will be cut in the future.
Thanks Fred, yes actually its a little more complicated than that. The February 2009 deadline is for over the air broadcasts, so theoretically it should not affect Verizon Fios. However, Verizon has agreed to convert to all digital by the February 2009 deadline to comply with a special waiver granted by the FCC to Verizon for a different deadline that requires all set top boxes after July 2007 to NOT have integrated security: http://www.multichannel.com/article/CA6458134.html. The integrated security is a total different mandate, which is explained here: http://www.multichannel.com/article/CA6396723.html.
You are correct regarding cable companies and the February 2009 deadline. While the cable companies would like to stop analog broadcasts so they can require their customers to upgrade to a set top box, the FCC is, ironically, requiring them to continue broadcasting analog channels until 2012: http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070912-fcc-to-cable-you-must-support-analog-tvs-until-2012.html
Thanks Duane, I just found out much of that information on the AVS forum discussion and the fact that Fios here in Oregon does not have any analog channels at all. Considering that Fiber Optics can carry much more data (up to 14 Terrabytes a second) then what Verizon is going to use, I would believe that there is no capacity barrier preventing Fios from having all the analog channels they want to offer. Its even possible to have all of the channels in analog if they wish to. Probably would require using additional wavelengths and coax outlets on the ONT but suspect this would be quite costly compared to using all QAM digital. But would give subscribers a choice.
The Verizon FIOS folks told me that after Feb, 2009 I will need a set top box to receive local channels. Does this mean that local channels will now be scrambled? I have a TV with a QAM tuner that is capable of receiveing digital broadcasts. The only way this TV could not receive local channels in the future is if FIOS scrambles the digital signal. Is a change in the works to scramble local digital broadcasts?
Thanks for the info Duane! My current setup is verizon phone, DSL, and directv w/ TIVO (through verizon). FIOS just came to my area, and I recently purchased an HDTV. Though Directv has better HD lineup (for now), it was expensive ($20 more per month than verizon, plus a $100 set up fee, even though I’ve had directv for years). Your review was very helpful in making a choice- I am going Fios
I have had FIOS since March 2007, and it has been an extreme source of aggravation for my family and I. One of the main problems has been the billing. The advertisement of $95 per month for the “bundle” is very misleading. Every month since I have had FIOS I have been charged exorbitant fees, and each time I call Verizon regarding the bill I am told that my “bundle” discount was not not included.Then the bill is adjusted. Why after almost a year do I have to put up with this annoyance?
Regarding the FIOS upgrade—I do not like it for three reasons. 1.The guide is more difficult to see (I have to get off my bed and move closer the TV to see it. The print is smaller and too jumbled together.
2. The widget for the weather guide used to display the weather for all of the days of the week. Now only ONE day at time can be seen.
3. The time is no longer displayed on the set top box while the TV is on. Instead, the channel only is displayed. Also, the upgrade should have included a simple one-step method, utilizing the power button ONLY, instead of (90%) of the time to hit both the TV/power, or the stb/power. It’s really an annoying process turning on the TV.
Please give these issues your prompt attention.
I live in sw florida — verizon is slowly installing throughout our area and I expect them to be on my street within a month or two.
I’ve had Comcast TV/Cable for five years — reliability is excellent, but customer service and poor user interface of tv service are making me excited about FIOS coming to our neighborhood.
Question — is it possible to get Verizon FIOS Tv only? And not get the high speed internet? Do they market it that way?
Another concern is giving up forever my copper telephone wires. This is the only way to ensure telephone service if power goes out. Not too impressed with Verizon’s “battery backup” plan for phone service.
Any thoughts about this?
Bill- Once you order Fios, Verizon will switch your phone service to the Fios network, which does not make a difference in the service itself, except for like you said, the phone service cannot be powered over fiber optic cable like it is over copper. I don’t think this is a big concern, or at least it is certainly outweighed by the benefits of fiber looking to the future. The fiber optic network is set to eventually replace the outdated copper network. Besides, even though phone service on copper is powered by the phone line itself, and therefore will work in a power outage, even that service is only designed to last for a few hours when the neighborhood switch loses power. It too uses a battery backup.
You can in fact order Fios TV without ordering Fios Internet, but like I said, Verizon phone service would then be provided over Fios (unless you got some approval otherwise). This also means you would not be able to order DSL since that technology is served over copper wires.
Not true re analog/copper telephones about not lasting if the neighborhood switch loses power. We had an ice storm in MD/DC area where power was out for about a week, government closed for 3 days etc. Our phones worked the entire time the power was out about 6 days – our daughters talked and talked and talked since it was the preferred form of entertainment in an ice storm. How can you explain it?
Robin, you most likely live within a couple miles of a central office. This is the case in most older areas where phone service was first established. Most central offices have diesel generator backups that can keep the equipment operational as long as they can there’s gas in the tanks. Most suburban areas are fed by remote “neighborhood switches” which do not have backup generators. In some cases even with remote switches, the phone company may even bring a portbale backup generator to a remote switch when an extended power outage occurs.
Is the PIP able to be used yet?
We should all rise up against this move to DTV because of the way “providers” intend to implement it. Other than for enabling a two-way communication with the provider (so they can take even more of your money for PPV, etc.), there is no technoligical reason why they can’t provide unencrypted digital channels the same as is now done for analog. In theory all one would need is a digital capable (i.e., QAM-tuner equipped) TV to receive digital channels much in the same manner as an analog sets now receive analog channels. But the providers clearly don’t want that to happen. Most of those 60-or-so analog channels you can now receive with regular analog TV will not be receivable by a mere “digital TV” because most of the channels will now be encrypted (as well as being converted to digital) thus forcing you to rent a decryting STB for each TV you have, and neither the FCC nor Congress appear to be doing anything to stop this. In other words, the change to digital will provide a new means for the providers to collect more of your money, even though aout 80% of the TV content they now provide comprises re-runs. Get prepared to get ripped off by the TV “provider” industry.
I have FIOS TV, Internet, and phone service. It’s great! Lately I have been looking for Media Center or Personal Video Recorder (PVR) software to use with this service. I am legally blind, and this woulld allow me to watch TV on my computer (inches away to easily view). Is there a Verizon product available for sale or monthly rental?
Just an update:
Verizon has switched Fort Wayne IN totally over to the digital service. They must have contacted me up to five different times to make sure that I was all set for the switch, and if I needed any help with the configuration of my TV’s to get ready for it.
They have also been adding more HD channels. From what I understand, there is another block of them coming in a few days.
Also, I would not bet the farm that you must have a desktop box to receive the FIOS signal. I am receiving it just fine through an HD tuner that I have connected to my computer.
That said, it is no match for the ease of operation that I am getting from my set top box.
Also for those that want to use a VCR with FIOS… forget it. More hassle then it is worth, get the DVR instead. If for no other reason, with FIOS, you can get and record a quality digital signal. A VCR records a POOR analog signal. Kind like the difference between writing with a quality pen, and the big lead pencils that we were issued in 1st grade. Once you get use to the DVR, you can never go back to the klunky VCR.
I am considering switching from my cable provider to FIOS but want to keep my hispeed internet.
Why do they need to install a router if I just want tv?
rosalie, Still no PIP.
John, the reason for the DTV transition is to free up space for more and better programming. Analog takes up much more compared to digital signals. Also, it is my understanding that at least the Fios local channel set is viewable with a digital QAM tuner (no STB required).
Phil, the router is installed with Fios TV because its used to download guide data (seamlessly). You could keep high speed internet from another provider, but not Verizon DSL. DSL is a copper technology, and I do not believe Verizon is allowing service from both copper and fiber simultaneously at a single location.
I currently have split the cable before it hits the cable modem and have it hooked up to a Hauppage wintv box(analog tuner). This, plus windows MCE gives me TIVO for free.
Will I be able to do the same thing if I get fios tv and internet?
I have the triple play package and would like to transfer recorded programs to dvd. Is this possible?
I am thinking of going FIOS and currently have cable, and broadband internet with Comcast. My phone service I use is through Vonage and I only pay 30.00 a month. I was told I could no longer use Vonage if I get FIOS is this true? Verizon charges more for their phone service and I’d rather stay with Vonage.
To answer a few questions on this forum: Verizon is going to an all digital signal by the end of the year-most markets have already converted. The FREE set top box for channels below 49, is a DCT 700. It is important, however, to understand this box ONLY works on an active FIOS connection. It will NOT work stand alone or for over-air broadcasts. When installed, it becomes a part of your FIOS home network to carry a FIOS signal. It should NOT be confused with the converters being subsidized by the government program/sold at local retailers. Routers are required in a FIOS installation to carry Pay Per View, Video On Demand, the Interactive Media Guide, and the tv listings info. If it is also going to be used for internet, a webkey is part of the installation to insure internet security. A seperate router purchase by the customer with it’s own webkey can interfere with the FIOS network, and is NOT SUPPORTED by FIOS technicians because it is NOT OURS. Some customers are deciding to ditch our little router and go their own way…only to discover they cannot get the information to go through THEIR router. Verizon’s router must be in place to support the video network, even if someone chooses to establish a wireless network or use their own router in their home. VCR’s are analog devices. They will not record HD with any quality. It usually results in a black tape or snowy distortion. HDTV’s usually require an upgrade to a Progressive Scan DVD player (like Blue-Ray). Choosing to embrace the HD/digital technology requires moving away from the older, more familiar analog technology. Consumers need to do more homework before making purchases of new technologies…they all have some limitations when paired with a service provider’s equipment. If the equipment is owned by you, then it is your responsibility to know how to operate it and set it up…not your provider’s.
I recently switched to Verizon FIOS with a HD DVR. However, I am a James Bond collector and I have an extensive collection of interviews with the Bond actors, etc. recorded from TV on VHS. I purchased a DVR/VHS recorder to transfer VHS to DVD. I assumed that I could record onto DVD from TV but have been unable to do this. Is this possible with Verizon FIOS? Verizon refueses to help. Are there companies that specialize in hooking up TV/Cable/DVRs, since I am not very good at this and am very frustrated?
I like your site. The reason the old copper lines work when the power is out is that the voltage comes from the CO (Central Office). Most of the phone companies have big generators, some are actually jet engines to power up the equipment in case of power outage. On the FIOS network the light enters the Optical Network terminal (ONT) and is converted to phone, internet, and tv by the terminal which requires power. The back up battery provides enough power to provide a phone in case of power loss. That is if you have a corded (non electrically powered phone ie cordless) phone.
I’m going to be getting Fios Tv Essentials with the triple play. Will I be getting any channels from channel 60-200? They’re the expanded local channels.
I’m interested in the Windows MCE setup as you have stated. Which windows OS are you using? I’m using Vista Home Premium. I’ve also got an Xbox360 on the network but I need to hardwire it for better data throughput. I’ve used Hauppage products in the past and have been happy with them; which one are you using? When you watch your recorded TV shows back, are you watching them on your computer monitor or on a TV connected to the PC?
Sorry for so many questions.
P.S. I currently have Fios TV and Internet and have been VERY happy with it. I was actually apart of the initial trial area. 🙂 We have the HD DVR and another VCR but I think the VCR is on its last leg and about to give up the ghost. I’d rather purchase some PC parts instead of paying the monthly fees to record TV. I never did buy into the Tivo phenominon… I’m too cheap. 🙂
Verizon wants to rent me an expensive accessory to view only a portion of what I can view now. The channels between 1-49 can be received with the Motorola DCT 700 but I notice that the local line up between 1-49 on Verizon is full of holes. There are no broadcasts on channels 10, 14-18, 23, 25-44, leaving me with no choice but to rent the more expensive Motorola QIP 2500. My current analog service is from Concast and goes from 2-99, my analog tuner only reaches to channel 125 and one of my favorites (as an example), the History Channel is on 128 (Verizon) when it is currently on 37 with Concast. Seems pretty clear that they decided to leave huge holes in the lineup just to force the upgrade in their revenue stream… How’s privatization working for you? Odd that they can switch over to digital and abandon the analog community but there is no one to tell them that they have to provide a STB (although, to their credit, Concast did provide a free STB for those of us who carry channels over a certain number which fails me right now. I really want to go over to Verizon but every time I call about pricing I get an additional “gotcha” such as the STB not being free and really not being an option because Verizon practices convenient channel allocation. Grrrrr.
FIOS is on it’s last chance in this house folks! I have been slammed with services I haven’t ordered…..again! I was so upset when I called customer service, that by the time I actually spoke to someone with a pulse, I told them it happens every other month. Truth of the matter is it has happened every 3-4 months, always with cinnimax and HBO, and they always tell me it was ordered by remote. I don’t buy it! And it if happens again, I won’t be buying any of it from verizon for a long long time.
i order the tier 2 fios triple play
+ Fios TV Extreme HD325+ channels, including 65+ in HD.
+ Fios Internet 25/25 MbpsUp to 25 Mbps download, 25 Mbps upload
+ Unlimited CallingUnlimited calling accross the U.S. and to Canada and Puerto Rico
i would recommend chat with someone who can help you
while ording online ask for a coupon code..see if theres any special offers.. so far i got 3 month hbo and cinamax 3 month secruity suit.. i payed noactivation ask any question chat withthem thats what i did..everything is perfect and internet is fast 2 hundred sumthing chennels it looks great you be in shock the phone you have to dial area ciode the number ect