Hey guys…. Time for a little more Tech Talk w/TK!!!
As I said before, we are all doing a lot more at home these days. Having the right gear set up is great, but what you really need is a robust and stable backbone to power everything. This is where your internet service from an ISP like Verizon or Xfinity comes into play. You can have the fastest router on the planet, but if you don’t have a good strong signal coming into it… you’re sunk.
After using Xfinity at home and elsewhere for years, I switched to Verizon FIOS at home in July of 2020. After some testing on my end, here is a quick summary of what I have found:
- The fastest download & upload speeds available. Unlike other cable competitors, due to the fiber optic connection, Verizon FIOS is able to offer equal download and upload speeds. This means when you sign up for a 1GB plan, for example, you are able to get up to ~1 Gbps both down and up. While its cable competitors can offer the same download speeds, they cannot touch the upload speed (maxing out at ~40 Mbps). This is important when you consider all the video conferencing and live streaming from devices you may be doing. Download speed is useful when pulling files down to your computer/devices like browsing, updating email, or streaming video from a service. Upload speed comes into play when sending data out, like sending emails, transferring a file to work or school, and video calls. Having that extra upload bandwidth for your money is really helpful these days.
- Offer’s tri-band Wifi6 router. Be sure to ask for the FIOS Router to ensure you get the latest Wifi6 protocol. It is included in the 1GB plan but will add an extra monthly fee for a lower tier. The router offers 3 bands (1 x 2.4 GHz and 2 x 5.0 GHz) to allow for a dedicated backhaul to help improve performance.
- Allows for a single network name through the Self-Organizing Network (SON) option. Much like other mesh network systems, FIOS offers you a single network name option when you add their FIOS Extenders to your system. This helps to prevent you from having to switch networks as you move around the house.
- Provides My FIOS app to control your network. Change your network name, network password, or manage who is connected through parental controls, all from the My FIOS app.
- Provides McAfee Home Network Protection service. Protect the devices that cannot protect themselves by monitoring and blocking threats at a router level. Get’s them before they get into your network.
The Not So Good:
- The My FIOS app is a bit cumbersome. Unlike its cable competitors, the My FIOS app feels clunky and takes some time to load and refresh. It is more focused on account information and promotions than the ability to manage your network. You will need to dive in a bit deeper to start managing your network. I would love to see a separate internet app with more features.
- Self-Organizing Network (SON) does not seem to be a true mesh network. After testing the FIOS Router and FIOS Extender together to create the FIOS version of a mesh network, I don’t think it truly functions like a mesh network system does. Additional FIOS Extenders show up in the app as connected devices, and not nodes or access points. As a result, you are not able to see the details on devices connected to Extenders. This can be helpful when troubleshooting connection issues. Also, when rebooting your network, only the Router is controlled. Extenders need to be manually rebooted by unplugging like you would need to do for any other device on your network to help re-establish a connection.
- Router reboot function from the app does not seem to function consistently. When a reboot of the router is triggered, in my testing, it does not always seem to occur. Also, unlike other systems, the app simply notes the command was submitted and does not provide a progress status (% Complete). You simply have to watch the FIOS Router LED to confirm completion.
- Check for availability in your area. Unlike its cable competitors, FIOS infrastructure requires a fiber optic network to deliver results. Unfortunately, that infrastructure isn’t available everywhere.
- Additional hardware is required. In addition to the FIOS Router, when FIOS is installed, a fiber optic signal decoder(?) is also required known as the Optical Network Terminal (ONT). This is the device that is connected to the fiber optic connection from outside and provides the raw internet signal to your home. Note, this can be connected directly to a router of your choice if you don’t like Verizon’s, but that does give their tech support an easy culprit to blame if things aren’t working properly :-).
- Chat tech support is just ok. As I tend to be a bit of a home network hack, a bit better than some, but by no means a network engineer, I like to monitor my network to ensure I’m getting the best performance. When working with support via chat on speed issues, I have found their ability to diagnose the issue a bit hit or miss. While they are professional, try-hard, and are available at all times, don’t pause between messages too long or they will quickly close the session and force you back in the queue, making you the next guys problem. Especially relevant when they ask you to reboot your system :-). Pro-Tip: Start your chat from your phone using cellular data only and troubleshoot the system using a tablet or computer. This way when they inevitably do ask you to reboot the network, you stay connected with them.