Some people will be shocked to hear that I’m now a FiOS customer, especially if they’ve read a previous post I made over a year ago now about how FiOS looked like the biggest scam ever. Well, I’m not sure I changed my mind per se, but a number of realizations have been made over the past months that made me reconsider.
But… But why?!
First, you have to know that before this, I got cable TV and internet service from Comcast. I can’t stand Comcast. Their customer service is terrible, their pricing is outrageous, the reliability of the service is so-so at best, and the quality of the signal is spotty. To top this off, their on-screen guide recently underwent a change which resulted in about 2/3 of the space being devoted to ads of one form or another.
Second, you also need to know that I’m too far from a CO to get DSL. I can get what’s called IDSL, which is really just ISDN. A *full* three times faster than dialup, at about $100/month!
Third, you also need to know my stance on VoIP: It’s not soup yet. Not from a technology standpoint – but from a political one. Until the issues about which packets can be passed over whose lines and all this, the telcos have zero incentive to treat VoIP traffic with any respect, since it competes with their own phone business. In fact, they have every incentive to impose restrictions and limits on that traffic. The result, for now, is shoddy, unreliable service that’s no better than your cell phone, in which case… just use your cell phone.
With all that in mind, I had to reconsider whether or not I cared about them taking my copper. Turns out I didn’t care. However, I also learned that I could’ve kept my copper in a number of ways. One was to tell them that my alarm system was not compatible and required copper (some do). Another way is to assess the attitude of the worker on site doing the installation. I’m pretty sure I could’ve told the guy to leave my copper alone and he would’ve been more than happy to leave it there. It saves him the work of removing it, and it was raining out during the installation.
Also note that they didn’t take my coax that was placed there by Comcast. So if I decide that Verizon really sucks as much as I think they do deep down inside, I can always move back to Comcast, which is my only other real choice anyway since I can’t get DSL.
Nuts & Bolts
The battery backup unit, as it turns out, emits a signal when the battery needs replacing. Verizon replaces it once every 5 years, and if it needs to be replaced sooner, then allegedly I can get a new battery at Radio Shack. So I’m told. I haven’t looked, but I’ve heard this from more than one source now, and it’s rare that sales, customer service, and the guys in the field are on the same page about anything, so I tend to think it’s at least based on reality. If someone can confirm with a part number or a link or something, that’d be even better!
My house is completely 100% wireless, and Verizon provides a modem/ap in one box. Mine is an ActionTec, which I’m told is new (at least to this guy it was new). The old ones, I believe, were Motorolas (the TV box is still Motorola). I was a little worried that this was going to be a total black box, but it’s not – you can have your way with it. It’s your default gateway, and it gives you an IP on a /24 network, usually 192.168.1.0/24 (I’ve never heard of anyone getting a different network by default), so just go to 192.168.1.1 and log in with username ‘admin’ and password ‘password’ or ‘password1’. How’s that for security?
If that’s not open enough for you, also note that the wireless access point broadcasts its SSID, uses a 40-bit WEP key, and has a firewall built in that is set (or, was set in my case) to “Minimum Security” which sets the default policy for both inbound and outbound traffic to “accept”. Ugh.
The good news is that the administrative interface on this thing is *really* nice, and has just about every feature you could want. I haven’t even been through every screen yet, but setting up MAC filtering, turning off SSID broadcasts, changing the firewall settings, and changing the admin login information took no time at all.
The TV box is the thing I’ll interact with less than anything else. It appears to have a zillion channels, some I’ve never even heard of, and the first two things I’ve noticed are 1) the channel changes and guide are much faster than comcast 2) the channels are grouped in ways that are unintuitive to old Comcasters like me. I’ll get used to it.
So that’s it for now. I’ll report back on the ActionTec, because that looks like it could be fun to mess with. Stay tuned.