Fios is a fiber internet, television, and telephone service first launched by Verizon over 15 years ago. Verizon Fios was the first major fiber telecom service. Its launch was met with high expectations and visions of a fiber-driven future.
Those who were around at the time of Fios’ launch will probably remember the hype. Verizon promised blazing-fast internet speeds using state-of-the-art fiber optic technology. The tech community was waiting with eager anticipation when the first Fios service began in Keller, Texas.
Although Verizon Fios offers a bundle plan combining internet, television, and telephone, the most significant hype surrounds lighting-quick internet speeds. Around the time when Fios service began, the average internet connection speed in the USA was around 3mbps. Fios offered download speeds up to 1gbps, over 300 times faster than the average connection.
The average internet connection speed across the nation has increased in the last 15 years. DSL service continues to fall out of style as outdated technology. Some cable internet providers can offer service that comes close to fiber-optic speeds.
Many people are eager to experience the speed of the Verizon Fios network for themselves. Fios is still available in several markets. However, economic and technological changes in recent years have made the expansion of fiber technologies uncertain. This post will look at how Fios first began, how it works, where it is currently available, and where it may be available in the future.
Verizon Fios Launch and Expansion
Fios first launched in Keller, TX in 2005 with an initial customer base of around 9,000 people. It was one of the first telecommunication companies in America to begin a fiber-to-the-home business model. By 2009, Fios had about 3 million subscribers and was available to slightly less than 13 million homes.
Verizon began Fios with a lot of focus on its television service. They partnered with Motorola to produce a DVR, which Motorola released in 2006. At the time, digital video recorders (DVRs) were a relatively new technology that allowed customers to record shows, rewind live TV and replace their VCR.
Television subscribers and internet subscribers alike continued to increase as the Fios roll-out continued. Verizon expanded the Fios network aggressively until 2010 when the company announced it would be slowing expansion.
The news of a slower Fios expansion came following Verizon’s recent lackluster financial performance. At that time, economic changes had made it difficult for Verizon to continue aggressively expanding its fiber network.
Building a fiber network is an expensive undertaking. Fiber-optic networks such as Verizon Fios require physical infrastructure to function. Verizon estimated that the company had invested 23 billion dollars between 2005 and 2014 to expand the Fios network, equating to an average cost of nearly $1,400 per home for set-up and installation.
As the financial realities of a changing economy and tech space continued to impact Verizon, they eventually stopped expanding their Fios footprint. As of 2021, Fios is still alive and operating in several different markets, all near the east coast of the USA.
Fios continues to add thousands of subscribers to its customer base each year. Despite this, Verizon has no current plans to expand its 1 Gbps internet service outside of its currently offered locations. Those living inside an area where Fios is available are free to sign up for the service, with some restrictions.
The Fiber Expansion Slowdown
Verizon began selling off pre-existing infrastructure in the Midwest in 2009 and 2010. Preferring to focus on the core Fios areas where Verizon had fully developed infrastructure, Verizon abandoned their Fios expansion plans to regions outside of the markets in which they were currently established.
Generally speaking, Verizon is available wherever Verizon is the incumbent local exchange carrier. In other words, Verizon has installed and is operating the physical wires and fiber optic line necessary for a Fios network connection.
Those outside of these areas are unlikely to see any development soon. However, it is worth noting that Verizon has not ruled out resuming expansion of the Fios network at some point in the future. Since 2010 Verizon has continued to add Fios subscribers in the areas where Fios is currently available.
While customers continue to join the Fios network, the lukewarm returns Verizon has experienced from their fiber optic investment have hampered new plans for further development. Verizon has instead chosen to focus on diversifying their data-distribution technology, chiefly by investing additional time and resources into their 5G over-the-air internet option.
Other factors play a role as well beyond pure dollars and cents. Verizon must run a fiber-optic cable directly into every subscriber’s home for the Fios network to work as advertised. The company must work with individual customers, property owners, towns, municipalities, and state representatives.
Juggling the politics of large infrastructure projects such as the Fios network can be challenging and risky for any company. Verizon repeatedly ran into complex negotiations with state and local governments, which continued to lower the economic viability of Fios.
Some people, including advocates for new technology, have criticized Verizon for their lackluster expansion of the Fios network. In 1993 the company promised to deliver high-tech communication infrastructure in 2015 that met the day’s standards.
Many have noted this promise and become critical of Verizon’s business approach, indicating that they must continue investing in new communication technologies.
Verizon may continue its expansion in the future, but this is unlikely. Many people wonder why Verizon can’t simply connect the Fios network to current infrastructure and why the costs and complexity of distributing a fiber-optic network are so extreme.
How Verizon Fios Works
It is helpful to understand the Fios infrastructure to understand why Verizon slowed their Fios expansion. The Verizon Fios network is an example of “fiber-to-the-home” (FTTH) technology. FTTH describes infrastructure which puts a terminal fiber optic connection into a subscriber’s home.
What makes FTTH unique is the extension of the fiber connection directly into the home of the subscriber. With other internet connection types, the data is carried by copper wires once it leaves the fiber-optic trunk line. Copper wires carry electromagnetic pulses to convey information, whereas fiber lines use pulses of light to convey information.
The fiber-optic light pulses are directed by either active or passive switching equipment, directing the signal to the correct destination. Active switching is more complex and entails committing to more equipment to get the job done. Most fiber providers, including Verizon, use a combination of active and passive switching.
Many people may not be aware that internet service providers and telecommunication companies have incorporated fiber-optic technology into much of the internet. Internet service providers use large, dedicated “trunk lines” to move enormous amounts of data using a quick fiber connection. The web traffic of most individuals crosses fiber lines at some point on its journey from a server to the user’s computer.
The direct fiber connection means FTTH technologies like Verizon Fios can bring the speed and benefits of fiber-optic tech directly to consumers. Fiber optic transmission is a reliable method of high-speed data transmission. The benefits of services like Verizon Fios are imparted directly by the advantages of carrying data over a fiber-optic line.
Fiber can carry a massive amount of data, meaning that fiber-optic technology has a very high bandwidth. The bandwidth directly relates to internet speed: the higher the bandwidth, the faster information can move across your internet connection. Fiber is also resistant to electromagnetic interference, a serious problem with traditional copper cables.
Copper cables designed to carry data are subject to interference from power lines in a user’s walls, as well as other sources of electromagnetic interference. This design reduces the quality of the internet signal, which impacts speed and performance.
The relative complexity of FTTH systems is not new in the tech space. Concerns related to the best way to expand infrastructure have existed in countless industries, but the distribution of fiber optic networks closely mirrors previous telecom expansions.
Every new technology requires the infrastructure to support it. When early telecommunication companies first introduced phone service, they needed thousands of miles of copper cable to connect subscribers. Fios is in a similar situation; to expand their service, they must install miles of fiber, and they must place terminal connections in the homes and businesses of subscribers.
Verizon Fios Availability
Currently, Verizon Fios is only available in select markets, and there are no plans to expand those markets soon. Verizon is opting to expand its 5G and traditional data services over the Fios network. However, they do plan to continue adding subscribers to the Fios network for the foreseeable future.
As a whole, fiber-optic internet is the norm for around 30 percent of Americans. Verizon Fios and other fiber services continue to represent a substantial portion of the telecommunications market. However, new technologies and economic changes continue to impact fiber internet services at FTTH technology.
Verizon Fios is accepting new subscribers in the following metro markets.
- Most major cities in New Jersey have access to Verizon Fios.
- Long Island
- New York City
- Staten Island
- Most major cities in Delaware have access to Verizon Fios.
Verizon Fios is also available in Washington DC. Suburbs and other areas near the cities listed above may also have access to the Fios network. Verizon offers a Fios availability checker on their website where prospective subscribers can determine Fios availability with an address search.
Verizon Fios Plans
Verizon offers three tiers of internet plans:
- 200mbps download speeds for $39.99 per month
- 400mbps download speeds for $59.99 per month
- Gigabit speeds for $79.99 per month
Fios users will see the most significant benefits from the Gigabit tier, which utilizes the high-bandwidth blazing-fast fiber infrastructure to deliver maximum speed.
Fios also offers four TV tiers ranging from 56 dollars per month to 96 dollars per month. Home phone service is also still offered for a price of $20 per month. Prices of TV and internet may change based on bundle deals.
Is Verizon Fios Worth Using?
Those living in an area where Verizon Fios is available should consider using Fios for their internet, television, and phone service. Fiber internet options are routinely some of the most reliable and best-reviewed choices for internet service. Fios is no exception; the service has regularly received positive reviews from its users.
In terms of cost, Fios is on par with the competition. The significant advantage is the absence of introductory pricing. Verizon won’t raise a subscriber’s monthly rate after a year of service. For those who value both an internet connection and television service, Fios provides an affordable option that regularly out-competes satellite television options.
Areas where Fios is available can benefit from the high-quality connection of a fiber network. While cable companies are beginning to offer Gigabit speeds over traditional cable lines, the price and reliability of cable make fiber a more desirable option, at least for the time being.
Fiber services such as Verizon Fios play an essential role in the nation’s telecommunication infrastructure. While Fios appears to be sticking to the markets where it is established, future expansions are always possible as economic priorities shift. For now, though, it seems as though Fios is out of reach for many.
Where Fios is available, it provides several benefits compared to the competition. Individuals residing in or moving to an area with fiber infrastructure should strongly consider making fiber their go-to telecommunication choice.
Fiber networks sit on the cutting-edge of internet service technology. Anyone who invests in fiber can be assured of a future-proofed network that will reliably deliver high speeds for years to come. While new and exciting technologies shape the future of service providers such as Verizon, the technology behind fiber-optic networks is here to stay.