Verizon FIOS Installation

This page will detail my experience with the installation of Verizon FIOS to my house.

Pictures of the install are available on my photo album here.

I welcome comments or questions (on message board here) about this write up and/or the install and my experience with it. I will try to respond when possible.

The History:

(skip below to the install if this gets boring for you)

I live in a suburban neighborhood in a single family house. I have had Verizon DSL and phone service on traditional copper wiring. Verizon contractors came through the neighborhood a few months ago and installed the main fiber lines underground down every street in our neighborhood.

The Marketing:

(sales force lacking knowledge)

A few weeks later Verizon starting a heavy marketing campaign. They sent cards in the mail every week. Then came the door knockers. The first was a nice college age guy who came by when my wife was home but I wasn't. His pitch was "just sign here" your phone and internet will be the exact same, except maybe cheaper. AND, you will be on fiber, which is better (how he didn't explain). After a fair amount of pressure, my wife said no, come back in a couple days when my husband is home.

Now, I had actually wanted FIOS for two years. I had done quite a bit of research, but still had some questions about the install. So, when the sales guy came back a few days later, I asked my questions. My main question was about the needed power outlet for the battery backup. He said Verizon's installers would add one if needed. I said, "So, they are licensed electricians?" He said yes. I told him he was wrong. He offered to call his supervisor. So he did, and I asked the supervisor. The real answer: The installers are not electricians and Verizon will not add a power outlet. I told the sales guy that I would wait until I could see some installs in the neighborhood.

Installs started in the neighborhood the next week. Then came marketing calls to my house from Verizon. When I was finally home to answer one, I asked my same question about the power outlet. Again, I was fed a wrong answer. He said that Verizon had just changed their policy and were now providing whatever was needed to get the installation complete. (False) I hung up when the marketing guy went into a long winded description of how he loved the service personally and ignored me.

A second door-to-door sales person came by and again I asked my questions. Again, wrong answer.

A couple weeks later I was off work on a weekday and drove by some Verizon guys doing an install at another house. I stopped and asked them some questions and they showed me how the install looks. I had all my answers and was ready to order. After all of the failed sales calls all it took was five minutes to see a real install. This is why I decided I should show my install online - to answer questions people may have that they can't seem to get resolved.

The Order Process:

(Small glitch)

I decided to place my order online to make the process easy and avoid yet another sales person. My order consisted of switching my phone and internet to fiber. I ordered late one night, which I have decided was a mistake. On the last portion of the online process where you schedule the installation date, the Verizon's page came up with an error telling me the system was unavailable and listed an 800 number to call to finish the process. Already tired, I went to bed and left my computer sitting on that screen. The next morning I was not excited at the prospect of calling the sales office. I decided to resubmit the order request at the page I had left open. Surprisingly, the order went through and I completed the process. I placed my order on 8/11/06 and the first installation date available was on 8/24/06 between 8:30a.m. and 12:00p.m. Longer than I was wanted to wait, but no big deal. I scheduled that day off from work because the installer needs inside access to the house and computer.

The Install - Part 1:

(Fiber to the house - problems)

Pictures of the install are available on my photo album here.

After seeing other installations in the neighborhood, I expected someone to come by and bury the fiber line to the side of my house. This happened two days prior to my actual install date which is fairly typical I think. This is when I became unhappy. I was at work Tuesday around 8:30a.m., when my wife calls to say a Verizon guy is working in the yard. He had knocked on the door, but she wasn't yet dressed and didn't answer. An hour later, my wife calls from her cell phone to say that the phone and internet (DSL) don't work and the guy is gone. I figure, it was a FIOS order and installer, so I call FIOS customer support. They listen to the problem and transfer me to the copper repair department. I explain the problem and they say the first available tech slot is on Friday. I explain that Friday is after my FIOS install on Thursday, which would be pointless. AND, it was Verizon who messed up my service to begin with and should fix it today so I am not without phone service. I get sent to the "escalation" department. I again explain my point and get told that they "are not sure" that Verizon caused the problem until a tech checks the line. They say they "will see what they can do" but no guarantees. I express my unhappiness and finish the call. My wife then calls to say the installer left a slip on the door with the work # order and his phone number. I get the info, call copper support back and have them add the information to the repair request ticket. I then call the fiber installer and tell him that my phone doesn't work after he left. He says he will get someone out to fix it without really sounding much like he cares.

A couple hours later my wife calls to say a repair tech is there and looking for the copper line. An hour and a half later my wife calls to say the tech is having problems and puts him on the phone. he explains that he cannot locate the point of connection of my copper line to the main lines at the street. He says the line is not where he expected it to be. His only option is to call the underground line locate service the next morning to have them find it for him so he can then resplice the line. We get of the phone. Ten minutes later my wife calls to say as the guy was walking to his truck he dropped his screwdriver and it happened to land in the exact spot he was searching for. Now, mind you, I still don't understand how this helped the man, but he did indeed find the copper line in a point where it intersected the newly buried fiber. He pulled it up and spliced a temporary new copper line to it. He ran it on top of the ground and connected it to my service box at the side of my house. This was fairly ok as it was only to be needed for less than 48 hours. At 4:30p.m., the phones and DSL worked once again. I still don't know which call got the repair tech out, but you can bet calling both is the best idea.

The fiber line was installed underground to a point beside my existing copper service line and electrical meter. The line was strapped to the wall and a few extra feet of fiber were left coiled to allow the ONT installer some flexibility.

The Install - Part 2:

(Electronics and activation - wonderful!)

My order consisted of switching my phone and internet to fiber. On my scheduled install day, my time slot was between 8:30a.m. and 12:00p.m. At about 8:30a.m., my home phone rang and it was the installer calling to say he had just pulled up in front of the house. I came out to meet him and we briefly walked through where the components of the system would go.

The system components are:

1. Optical Network Terminal (ONT): A box that converts the fiber signal into voice/data/TV. This box has the traditional phone, Ethernet, and COAX connectors inside where each of these services connect. This box is typically mounted on the building exterior where the fiber comes to the building.

2. ONT Power Supply Unit (OPSU): This actually has two parts. One is an AC/DC converter somewhat like a laptop power supply. The second is the actual OPSU unit which is basically a small Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS). The output from this unit is wired to the ONT. The OPSU is mounted inside the building and can have up to fifty feet of wire from it to the ONT. The AC/DC converter has a standard power plug (NEMA 5-15R) and about eight feet of cord. The output wire from the AC/DC converter to the OPSU can be up to 100 feet. In summary, 8 foot cord from outlet to converter, up to 100 foot cord from converter to OPSU, up to 50 foot cord from OPSU to ONT. This allows a lot of flexibility in where the power can come from which alleviated my concerns with available outlet locations.

3. Router: The Verizon version has Ethernet, wireless and coax network capabilities. I am told the router is needed for some TV options but I am not using the TV service and can't comment further.

The battery backup would be on the wall in my garage. The exterior side of this wall is where the fiber line was installed and where the new ONT box would be mounted beside my existing copper phone service box and electrical meter. The AC/DC converter would be on the ceiling about ten feet over from the OPSU and plug into a receptacle on the wall below.

The installer was friendly and knowledgeable. He listened to each request I had regarding installation locations and wiring and did exactly as I wanted. It would have been easiest for him to convert my existing phone line into my office to the data line. However, doing so would leave my office without a phone line. He ran a completely new line into my office from the attic above. I also asked that he pull a string down to the box with the new line. This would allow me to more easily pull another data line back up should I decide to hardwire another jack in the house later. He did one better by pulling the string line and putting in a quad jack plate and gave me the extra data jack connector. This way, if I decide to pull in another line, I don’t have to install a new plate. This isn't a big deal, but it was nice that he volunteered to do so. The resulting jack was one phone, one data, one future data, and one blank.

He installed the system and didn't have any problems except having to move the buried fiber over a couple feet to a better location for the ONT.

1. Installed the battery back-up in the garage

2. Moved the buried fiber line over a couple feet

2. Installed the ONT on the outside garage wall

3. Ran a new CAT5 drop to one outlet in my office

4. Wired everything up

5. Activated the ONT

6. Came inside and setup the Actiontec router

7. Verified that the phone and data worked

8. Ran a speed test on Verizon's web server

9. Cleaned up and headed out

The install took him 4.5 hours which he said was the fastest he has done in a while. He said Verizon's goal for the installers is 4 jobs per day. Each service (voice, data, TV) counts as one job. So my install (voice & data) counted as 2 jobs for him.

The Results - short term:

The service works great. Our phone line is clearer and we don't have problems with some people not hearing us like we did with the copper line. The data is awesomely fast. It blows away the T1 line at work. I ordered the 15Mbps/2Mbps service. Speed tests to the Verizon network indicate 14+Mbps/1+Mbps. Speed tests to other sites result in 5-11Mbps/1+Mbps.

A few items to keep in mind: The specific equipment (ONT/OPSU) provided in my install is different than my neighbors which was only done two months ago. Verizon may very well switch suppliers again, but the same general components and installation methods should likely apply.

Long term performance and reliability will be added when appropriate.

I welcome comments or questions (on message board here) about this write up and/or the install and my experience with it. I will try to respond when possible.