Casey Bralla on 5 Nov 2008 15:24:57 -0800

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

[PLUG] FiOS vs Comcast: The End Result

A few weeks ago, I asked the list for advice on whether to use FiOS or Comcast 
for my Internet connection.  I've made my choice, and thought the list might 
find my decision-making and implementation of interest.   (and if not, then 
we can have another few dozen eMails about how the list is being polluted 
with too many off-top and non-interesting eMails <grin>)

To summarize my situation:

I wanted to lower my total costs of telephone, Internet, and cable TV.  I also 
needed to be able to run a full suite of servers (web, mail, DNS).  Comcast 
had been filtering my eMail servers for some time, but thankfully had not 
interfered with my web servers, even though I was violating my terms of 
Service to run them.   I had been using an eMail redirection service, and 
several almost-free DNS servers, and everything worked, but was a pain to 
administer.  Also, my annual subscriptions to these services was about to run 
out, and I was facing another $100 or so in charges to renew them.

FiOS has been in my neighborhood for about a year, and I was encouraged by the 
rampant advertising of "triple play" offers from both carriers.

Here is what I discovered:

Since I wanted the right to run servers, I was stuck with getting "Business 
Class" service.  Comcast filters port 25, and threatens to filter port 80 too 
right now.  I assume FiOS would too.

Both offered dynamic IP, which theoretically works fine for me as long as it 
doesn't change too often.  My comcast residential IP has only changed once in 
3 years, although I have read that Verizon changes their dynamic IPs 
frequently (maybe even hourly).

Despite all their ads for business services, Comcast does not offer a "triple 
play" for business.   You get essentially no discount for bundling.   Verizon 
does offer a discount for business class triple play.

The Comcast sales rep was courteous and prompt in getting back to me.  I'm 
pretty sure he was on commission.   The FiOS reps almost never answered my 
eMails, even when I was replying to THEIR eMails.   I did eventually find a 
knowledgeable Verizon rep.  She informed me that (no surprise) they don't get 
commissions on sales, but do get "points".

Getting technical questions answered from Verizon was basically impossible.  
Even getting to their Tech guys took me over an hour.   When I finally got to 
one, he very politely told me that he could only help me if my system was 
broken.  (I had asked him about port filtering, and he clearly didn't even 
understand what I was talking about.)

Comcast does not filter anything on their business class service.   Verizon 
filters their dynamic IPs, but not their static IPs.  This means I had to get 
a static IP if I wanted to run servers with FiOS.

Verizon's telephone system was a colossal headache, since they always routed 
me to "residential" sales reps since my home phone number is residential.   I 
always had to get to residential sales, then get transferred to business 
sales, which often got me lost in a phone loop and sent me right back to 
residential.  (Too bad Verizon has no technical experience with telephones, 
since maybe this skill could be used to help improve their system <snark>)

In order to get a static IP with FiOS, I had to purchase a faster service 
(20/5 MBPS).  This, of course, was more expensive.   Also, since I wanted 
Phone, and TV with Internet, I had to get a block of 5 IPs.  This wasn't too 
bad, except that they claim that phone takes 1 IP, TV consumes 1, and the 
router eats 1 also.  This means I would have been left with 2 usable IPs, 
which would have been more than adequate for my needs, but wasteful of IPs.

Verizon's different sales reps quoted me several different prices for the same 
service at different times.  I think this is because they didn't know I 
needed the block of 5 IPs.  (The most seemingly knowledgeable rep was certain 
I had to get the block of IPs if I was getting triple play.)

Comcast's Internet phone is "unlimited", but only in the local calling area.   
Long distance is 5 cents per minute, which seems ridiculously expensive in 
this day and age.   Verizon's unlimited as truly unlimited in the US.

The Comcast sales rep said I wouldn't need or get any new equipment, but sure 
enough, the installer brought a crummy modem/router to do the install.   I've 
read that there is a comcast-only backdoor into it that the customer cannot 

FiOS's TV lineup was better than Comcast's, but since you need a decoder box 
to get it, my analog hookup to a second TV and a VCR would each have required 
a decoder too, at additional cost.  This meant I would not be able to watch 
one program while taping another.

So I ended up getting comcast business dynamic service.  I pay an extra $17 
per month, and had to get a 3-year contract to avoid the $99 installation 
charge.    FiOS would have increased my monthly charges by $45, but I would 
have had more TV channels and 4 times faster Internet.  Unfortunately for me, 
there just was no way I would be able to talk my financial adviser (aka "Mrs 
Bralla") into this.   

It still may be possible to get FiOS TV and telephone bundled, without 
Internet, but they don't list that combo on their web site.  I guess I'll 
have to call them.


Casey Bralla
Chief Nerd in Residence
The NerdWorld Organisation
Philadelphia Linux Users Group         --
Announcements -
General Discussion  --