Hail to the King! As of June 18th, Verizon’s FiOS is getting even faster. How fast? Well, slow down there a second and let’s take a step back and look at the whole situation before discussing drool inducing speeds! This will prove doubly handy as it will give you time to get a towel ready, and trust us when we say that you will need it!
Let’s start with introducing you to FiOS, a network you might not know very well yet, but you will be fast friends in just a few sentences! FiOS is Verizon’s fiber optic wunderkind, and it has proven to be a dominant force in the broadband industry as a whole despite only competing in a handful of markets. The reason for the reputation and the fear from FiOS competitors is rather simple: fiber optics are a threat to other forms of broadband everywhere, and Verizon proves it day in and day with blazing fast services at bargain basement prices. We will cover the reasons for that later, as well as how the competition may respond, but first let’s take a look at the new undisputed heavyweight champ of the broadband world, the same as it was before but faster!
FiOS Retains the Speed Crown, Won’t Give it Up Anytime Soon
It’s official, Verizon’s FiOS is going to continue holding the crown for mass-market broadband performance. Nobody is even coming close, except for in a few very small pockets where companies like Google or USIgnite, but those are far from mass market ready technologies. Those are examples are more accurately considered to be testbeds for the next generation of fiber optic broadband networking, while Verizon is out there actually bringing fiber optic to the masses with its FiOS network.
So, how fast is the new speed grade? How does 65 Mbps sound? Oh wait…that is the upstream speed! Yes, that is right, the upstream speed alone is a staggering 65 Mbps, or nearly what the fastest of what the competitors have on offer for downstream is available as upstream performance with FiOS quantum. Downstream performance is rated at a staggering 300 Mbps, making it on par with current WiFi networking standards! Yes, that is right, without any of the fancy dual-spectrum devices, the new FiOS Quantum speed is capable of absolutely suturing an entire wireless network and then some! And that is just when comparing to the theoretical performance of that wireless network. In real world tests, it could very well saturate even the dual-band MIMO connections on top-tier wireless routers.
The lesson here is that you can probably serve up an entirely saturated wireless network at full-tilt and still have room leftover for a handful of your wired connections to HD streaming with no pre-loading. While the pinnacle of performance sounds great, we want to be clear that everyone in the FiOS network is benefiting from this speed upgrade.
Low End FiOS is Mid- to High-End Anything Else
The nice thing about FiOS getting an upgrade is that everyone benefits from the arrangement, well…everyone except the competition that is! The very low end of FiOS offerings in markets eligible for the 300 Mbps / 65 Mbps package is now 15 Mbps / 5 Mbps. So, 15 Mbps might not sound like anything to write home about on the surface, but the 5 Mbps upstream speed is an amazingly fast speed for upstream performance and easily compares to what top tier offerings from the competition have on tap.
To put this in perspective, third-tier markets are dominated by broadband plans that generally top out at about 15 to 20 Mbps, and these markets literally line the country. 2nd tier cities generally end up with performance in the high double digits, and FiOS competes in most of these markets while top tier cities generally have the best broadband performance available and plans in the teens are a mid-range option at most ISPs. 2nd tier markets have 15 Mbps up closer to the top of their spectrum, but remember that this is the absolute floor for FiOS now. So, let’s see what else Verizon has on tap.
New Mid Range Fiber Optic Offerings
The 25 Mbps synchronous package has evolved much like a butterfly, and has spread its wings to double its downstream performance while its upstream performance still remains a breathtaking 25 Mbps. For those that are not familiar with the value of a high upstream, you should really take a look at what the competition has to offer because 25 Mbps of upstream is usually above and beyond what the competition’s highest tier asynchronous service has to offer and perhaps more or less on par with their best synchronous service in top tier markets.
A similar metamorphosis happened with the formerly synchronous 35 Mbps plan, which is now rated at a staggering 75 Mbps downstream and retains its life-rearranging 35 Mbps upstream performance. Customer retention with Verizon’s FiOS unit is understandably high, especially when looking at numbers like these! After all, who could leave when your already blazingly fast broadband performance gets doubled in one way or another every so often?
Verizon FiOS Has New Tiers Too!
While the news of a 300 Mbps / 65 Mbps speed tier is certainly the headline here, do not forget that the company added two entirely new speed tiers on the 30th of May. In fact, these two new additions were perhaps the heralds of the coming speed bump that has shaken up the entire lineup for the best. A 150 Mbps downstream / 65 Mbps upstream package and the 50 Mbps / 25 Mbps were added as individual choices, at least on paper, from that date while the rumors of a 300 Mbps / 65 Mbps and the 75 Mbps / 35 Mbps started doing the rounds only to be officially confirmed but without price points shortly thereafter. The good news is that when it comes to prices, Verizon has done something enviably and laudable: they are keeping their pricing structure more or less intact despite putting a massive amount of pressure on the competition.
What These New Speeds Mean
Fiber optics have shown us in the past that they have plenty to offer. Fiber optics offer great signal range and value due to the use of light-based signals, which cost less and carry data in multiple spectrums. The latest upgrades to FiOS just go to prove this, and they do so with emphasis. The playing field between DSL, cable broadband, and fiber optic just became about as lopsided as pitting an NFL football team against a Pop Warner Peewee division team. The fight was unfair to begin with, but it just became so lopsided that it should either be criminal for the competition to not lower their prices or legislature should consider passing a law requiring urinalysis for every person willing to pay nearly equal price for inferior performing service that the competition has to offer.
The competition is certain to respond, but there may not be a whole lot of life left in DSL and cable broadband. The companies are already reverting to doubling up on lines in order to increase performance and range, but the fact of the matter is that the wiring for these systems is just antique. Perhaps we should remove the Pop Warner Peewee league from our previous analogy and replace it with a geriatric ward at the local hospice to make it more accurate. America loves a comeback story, and more than a few great sports analogies have been born from has-beens proving that they still can be, so we won’t declare DSL and cable totally out of the fight just yet. That being said it does not really matter what trick they pull out over their sleeves, the fact of the matter is there are physical principles that cannot be worked around forever and the companies know it.
We boldly predict that experiments in Gigabit-class broadband paired with the mass market performance of networks like FiOS sound the changing of the guard from DSL and cable broadband, and that telecoms and cable companies will be moving to pure fiber optics in the future. How soon will that be? Nobody knows, but every time FiOS ratchets up the pressure we get the feeling that it might be sooner than we thought before! Even if that is still in the future, we can already see the writing on the wall: Fiber optics could do to broadband what broadband did to dial-up, and that is through all markets across the country. With all markets potentially threatened, DSL and cable will have to respond or risk becoming the next footnotes in Internet history. All hail the king!