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Jewish World Review
Feb. 1, 2008
/ 25 Shevat 5768
If you can possibly do it, now may be the time to add more fiber to
your life. I'm not talking about diet, but rather fiber optic service,
or FiOS, as Verizon calls it. Since the install of this broadband
Internet, television and voice telephone service late last week, I've
been on Cloud 9 - it's that good.
Download speeds are either just above or just below the 15
Megabits-per-second Verizon offered in my service package. Using two
different online tests, I saw readings of 15.4 Mbps or 14.5 Mbps when
downloading an Internet page. That's roughly three times my previous
speed with Comcast's cable-based Internet service.
Upload speeds are close to the 2 Mbps advertised by Verizon; speed
meters clocked the upload at about 1.7 or 1.8 Mbps. More important,
those upload speeds were consistent when tested with servers in
Seattle, Washington; by contrast, download speeds were cut to about
5.6 Mbps from the distant server.
Numbers, however, are an abstraction unless there's some context: how
does the service perform in actual use? Well, whether I'm surfing a
local site or one decidedly distant, such as www.ehawaii.gov, the
state government portal for Hawaii, the page loads super-quickly. I've
seen equally good speeds when loading Web pages I reliably believed
were hosted in Israel, South Korea and Japan, all geographically
I'm also impressed that, generally, there's little in the way of
hiccups with the FiOS Internet service. With my previous Internet
provider, streaming audio would often "hiccup" at the beginning or
during a transmission. Here, there's no "rebuffering stream" message
onscreen when connecting to a remote source. Instead, there's crisp,
clear sound from the get-go.
I haven't used FiOS for Voice-over-Internet Protocol, or VoIP,
telephony yet, but I suspect the experience will be more than
satisfactory. Ditto for online video chats, or so I hope.
The bottom line is that the FiOS service, so far, is exactly as
advertised. This means a consistent experience for Internet use and
the hope of greater multimedia satisfaction. That's important not only
because, well, I'm paying for all this, but also because, if the
future of media is to converge in the Internet, we're going to need
reliable, solid and high-capacity transmissions that can handle all
this data. So far, Verizon FiOS delivers.
Other aspects of the FiOS package should be noted: telephone service
is included, with national long distance a part of the deal. We've got
more channels of television than we'd ever have time to watch. And the
total package, in both the first and second years, will cost less than
we paid for separate telephone and cable/Internet packages.
Using an Elgato EyeTV 200 unit and a Verizon-supplied cable box, I'm
able to watch many of the television channels on an Apple, Inc., IMac
desktop. The computer is also attached to a wireless router
that sends an encrypted Wi-Fi signal throughout our house. Wireless
performance is good, but on the second floor, three levels up from the
basement where my office is located, we needed to add an AirPort
Express module to boost wireless reception. Once this $99 item
from Apple was attached, the upstairs Mac could log on to the
One note about the television service: Verizon, unlike Comcast,
supplied an HDMI, or High-Definition Multimedia Interface, cable to
connect the digital set-top box to our Sony high-definition LCD. What
was a very good picture using a "composite" cable now is spectacular,
HD-wise, with the HDMI cable.
I'm sure there will be more lessons as our super-broadband adventure
continues. But after years and years of cable monopolies, it's nice to
have an alternative, and to have it work so very, very well.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
JWR contributor Mark Kellner has reported on technology for industry newspapers and magazines since 1983, and has been the computer columnist for The Washington Times since 1991.Comment by clicking here.
© 2008, News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of The Washington Times. Visit the paper at http://www.washingtontimes.com