There are plenty of ways to bundle your internet, TV, and phone services (you know, if you still actually use a home phone). While most services have something compelling to offer, if you’re looking for the fastest option available, you want to look to a fiber optic service. Fiber optic transmission lines currently offer the highest speeds available to consumers, and if you’re looking for an all-in-one solution, Verizon Fios may be your best (or only) bet.
What is Verizon Fios?
As the Fios name implies, Verizon delivers internet, TV, and phone services over fiber optic cables, enabling far faster speeds than standard copper-based cable offerings. The service has been around since 2005, though its original offering was somewhat bare-bones compared to the current product, which offers much higher data speeds and more TV channels. As of late 2017, the service had a total of 5.8 million subscribers.
How you can get Verizon Fios
Like standard cable, you get Verizon Fios by scheduling an appointment either over the phone or via the company’s website. Be prepared to spend the day home from work for the installation, though, as Fios installation is a longer and more involved process than standard cable since most homes aren’t already wired for fiber optic cable. On the off chance your home is wired for fiber optic, Verizon offers a self-install option. Otherwise, the install process generally can take four to six hours, or even longer.
One drawback to Verizon Fios isn’t how the service performs, but whether you can get it at all. This is a common problem with fiber services across the board. Fiber optic lines are still getting deployed across the U.S., and the process takes time. Complicating matters, Verizon’s Fios availability page is a little misleading. It indicates just a handful of metro areas with access, spread across New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Maryland, Delaware, and Washington, DC. But based on personal knowledge — and this map from Fiber For All — we know there are some service areas in Florida, Texas, and Southern California.
What’s more, similar services are offered by Frontier in some areas previously serviced under Verizon’s name — the TV service is even delivered under the Verizon brand name. Bottom line: You’ll want to plug your address into Verizon’s search page to find out if Fios is available in your area.
Internet may be the core offering of Verizon Fios, but there are plenty of other options for fiber optic broadband, depending on your location. Where it really shines is in its various bundled features. We break those aspects of the service down below.
Speed is the name of the game, and Fios is a leader there. One of the closest competitors to Fios is Comcast’s Xfinity, which offers download speeds ranging from 25 Mbps up to 200 Mbps in its most common packages. Verizon Fios, on the other hand, starts with more affordable packages at 50 Mbps download speeds, ranging all the way up to 940 Mbps. You can get similar speeds with Xfinity Gig — Comcast’s Gigabit internet service — but availability is currently limited, and this is a separate add-on service to Xfinity.
Standard cable internet uses shared bandwidth, which means that speeds can vary depending on how many people in your area are using the internet at the same time. If, for example, your daily routine is similar to most of your neighbors (which is fairly likely), that could mean your standard internet is often at its slowest when you want to use it the most. This seems to be far less of an issue with Fios. Congestion is still possible, but since your connection is delivered via light tube rather than copper cable, you won’t have to deal with slowdowns due to interference from power lines, radios, motors, or other sources of electromagnetic noise.
In addition to speedy connection, Fios also provides a feature that will be very important to those who download a lot of large files or frequently stream high-quality video: No data caps. Many other internet providers impose a limit on the amount of downstream data you can use, but at least so far, Verizon has shown no signs of planning to do this with Fios.
Available as part of your Fios subscription, Verizon offers three different cable-style TV packages. Preferred HD offers more than 280 channels with over 95 of those in high definition, while Extreme HD offers upwards of 355 channels, including more than 120 channels in HD. That’s a lot of channels, but it’s not the biggest package — that would be the Ultimate HD package, which offers more than 440 channels, including over 160 HD channels. Sadly, there are no 4K channels as of yet, though Verizon has been experimenting with the idea since 2017.
If that sounds like overkill, or if you just want something smaller to complement your various streaming services, Fios offers a Custom TV option. This is the service’s “skinny bundle” equivalent, which offers seven slimmed-down packages, each aimed at a different type of viewer: Action & Entertainment, Sports & News, Kids & Pop, News & Variety, Infotainment & Drama, Lifestyle & Variety, and Home & Family.
When Custom TV first launched, some of the networks Verizon already had deals with weren’t thrilled about it. In the case of ESPN, the network sued Verizon over the inclusion of ESPN and ESPN 2 in the Sports & News package, though the two companies eventually settled out of court.
Given the overall decline in the use of landlines in the United States, and Verizon’s popularity as a wireless carrier, the addition of home phone service in Fios feels somewhat tacked on. But if you need a home phone and plan to subscribe to Fios for internet and television, it makes sense. The service is Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), so in a way, it’s no different than a service like Skype, Vonage, or even MagicJack, but the way you use it is similar to old-fashioned phone service. Still, many users likely won’t need this, and Verizon Fios offers plenty of bundles without it.
Packages & Pricing
As with a lot of similar services, pricing is a very fluid thing with Fios. The company frequently runs sales and promotions, and pricing can vary by location. For that reason, we can’t just list all the prices here, but we can provide a glimpse at which packages are available and what you can generally expect to pay for them. For up-to-date prices for your location, see the Fios website.
Verizon Fios is available in three basic packages: Internet only, a bundle combining internet and TV service, and a bundle combining internet, TV, and phone. If all you’re looking for is internet service, you can expect to pay anywhere from $40 a month for a 100 Mbps connection to $80 per month for a Fios Gigabit Connection offering 940 Mbps download and 880 Mbps upload speeds.
When it comes to bundles, the Double Plays combining internet and TV are among the most popular. Plans combining 100 Mpbs internet and Custom TV start around $50 per month, while a plan that combines Gigabit internet, Ultimate HD TV, and home phone service is currently advertised at $125 per month with a two-year agreement, and even includes a free year of Netflix. Of course, many of these are promotional prices that will change over time.
In addition to the base price of the package, there are also taxes, equipment rental charges, and other fees to consider. Media clients and servers to use alongside the main modem start at $20 per month, while you can also expect to pay $22 per month for the Enhanced DVR service or $32 per month for the Premium DVR service. (That’s where they get ya.)
It’s not all extra charges and fees, though. Verizon Wireless customers get some nice perks when subscribing to Fios, from free streaming on their phones to discounts applied to the cost of the service.
Fios TV User experience
While internet and phone are relatively self explanatory, Fios TV needs a more in-depth look. That said, while the technology used to deliver the TV service is different than standard cable, you’ll find the overall interface and way you interact with the service is very similar.
One place Fios bests standard cable is picture quality. Due to the faster speeds afforded by fiber optic cable, TV over Fios is far less compressed than broadcasts from your average cable provider. Verizon doesn’t compress the signal it receives before distributing it to customers, so it delivers a higher bit rate, which translates to better picture quality.
The Verizon Fios Enhanced DVR service can be used with up to five TVs at a time. Despite the TV limit, the DVR handles up to six shows at the same time, letting you record five different shows while watching another at the same time. Storage space is fairly good, letting you save up to 100 hours of programming.
If that sounds limited, then you’ll want to pay extra for the Premium DVR service. This doubles everything, letting you use the service on up to 10 TVs and offering up to 200 hours of storage. The Premium DVR handles up to 12 shows at the same time, meaning most TV fans will never hit the max. No matter which of those DVR options you’re using, there is support for a cloud DVR service, which lets you watch DVR recordings on the Fios Mobile app (more on that below).
Netflix and on-demand TV
In addition to live programming, Fios TV packages also include upwards of 130,000 on-demand titles. Similar to other cable and satellite providers, what is available at any given time will vary, and options for popular in-season TV shows will likely be limited.
We mentioned above that some Fios bundles offer a free year of Netflix, but this isn’t the only way Netflix and Fios are integrated. Newer Fios set-top boxes also feature a built-in Netflix app. This can be accessed in a few ways: Depending on your remote, you may have a widget button that can be used to call up Netflix, but you can also choose Netflix from the On Demand section accessed from the main menu or head to channel 838, which acts as a shortcut for the feature.
In order to use Netflix via Fios, you’ll need Fios internet, a Netflix subscription, and a compatible set-top box, along with either Enhanced or Premium DVR service.
Fios Mobile app
If you’re looking to watch something while you’re on the go, the Fios Mobile app for both iOS and Android lets you watch on-demand options, but your DVR recordings as well, assuming you pay for either the Enhanced or Premium DVR options. You can also manage your DVR from anywhere (handy if you’re at work and realize you forgot to set the DVR to record something), and even use your phone as a spare remote for your Fios set-top box.
The app is even better for Verizon Wireless customers, as they can stream all they want without using any data. For more information see the Fios Mobile app website. Unfortunately, other Fios apps, like those for smart TVs or the Xbox One, were discontinued in 2016.
While the speed benefits are obvious, there is another major benefit of Verizon Fios that you’ll see come up over and over again when people talk about the service: Customer service and support. Customer service is notoriously bad across many major TV, internet, and phone providers, and it only seems to get worse when you combine them, but Fios seems to be one of the few exceptions. If pure speed and customer service are the top items on your checklist, this may be the perfect option for you.
That said, if your daily internet use is limited to light web browsing and streaming music and movies, Verizon’s offering could be overkill. Provided you have both options in your area, Comcast Xfinity may be a better bet thanks to its integration with numerous streaming services like Netflix and its increasing focus on powering your smart home.
In either case, we suggest you let the features you want (customer service included) be the guiding light for your decision.