Video problems with FIOS
The other bad surprise, in our 2nd month bill, was $156.03 for a service call we'd placed with Verizon. Multi-room DVR playback to rooms remote from the actual DVR was unreliable. They sent a guy out to trouble shoot the problem, but he didn't fix it and he didn't write it up as a Verizon problem, so they billed us for an hour of labor. I protested and they did deduct the labor and the tax on the labor from that month's bill.
We found more ways to demonstrate the video problem and called for yet another repair visit. The 2nd repair guy was unable to fix the problem too, but we learned a little from chatting with the guy while he was here. In the world of Cablevision, so far as I can discern, data service and television service are quite separate, sharing the same physical cable but traveling in separate channels. But with FIOS, each television set-top box gets an IP address. Some television services depend on being able to talk via the Internet router to get video to the set top boxes. Remarkably, the Verizon service folks don't have any kind of protocol analyzer or even a simple bit-error-rate monitor to give them visibility into what is doing on the home network.
More FIOS Woes - You Own the House Wiring
But we did have other FIOS problems. Cablevision ran a coax cable to a "cable modem" in the front bedroom. There were 2 phone jacks on the cable modem that provided our house phone line and our fax phone line. FIOS doesn't work that way. FIOS mounted a big white box on the outside of the house and ran the fiber to that box. They also installed a large UPS on the wall inside the house and ran power from the UPS to the white box on the outside wall. They then re-used Cablevision's coax cables to connect a coax cable from the FIOS box to the various TV's via a splitter box on the outside wall just below the FIOS box. There is no "cable modem" box as we had with Cablevision, but the Verizon Internet router has a coax connection of its own that it uses to talk to the FIOS network, including the settop boxes. The outside FIOS box also has about 8 phone jacks in it. So, Verizon ran 2 phone lines from those jacks to ancient NY Telephone demarc boxes on the outside wall, to tie the 2 phone lines to the ancient inside house wiring. The deal as I understood it was that as long as Verizon provided dial tone at the demarcation box, that any remaining phone problem was a "house wiring" problem and is only covered by Verizon if you pay them a ridiculous monthly surcharge.
More FIOS Woes - the Fragility of the Fiber from the Pole to the House
But Friday, before we ever got to that Monday service visit, something happened to our FIOS service. We lost everything - TV, phone and Internet. Verizon, contacted via cell phone, agreed to send a repair guy out on Saturday. The FIOS box has an LED in it to tell the repairman if the fiber is delivering a signal to the FIOS box. It immediately told the repairman that there was no signal. Alas, he arrived on a truck with ladders, but the fiber drop cable to our house is connected to the distribution fiber mid-span, between 2 telephone poles, so the junction is only accessible with a "cherry picker" truck.
The future of FIOS??
There's some evidence that Verizon is unhappy with their return on investment in converting their distribution network from copper to fiber. e.g. Wall Street Journal: Verizon to End Rollout of FIOS and DSL Reports: Verizon Again Confirms No Future FIOS Expansion. Will the day come when they try to close down their fiber business? Seems unlikely to me, but we do live in "interesting" times.
Cross the Streams?
I keep forgetting that Ghostbusters was an increasingly long time ago (1984). When our FIOS video problems turned out to be from the mixing of Internet traffic and FIOS video packets, Egon's warning about the dangers of "crossing the streams" immediately sprung to my mind. If you haven't seen Ghostbusters recently, you really should rush out and rent it. But thanks to Youtube, we can give you the relevant clips from the movie. First, the scene where Egon warns "Don't cross the streams!" And, second, the climatic scene where the team makes a slight change of plan and deliberately crosses the streams. A bit of a spoiler, but you still really should see the whole movie.
Friday, June 27, 2014
Home Networking with FIOS - Don't cross the streams.
As you may remember from my article Adventures in Home Networking, we very badly wanted to get out of using Cablevision. They'd agreed to a price to provide service to our home, but then consistently billed for significantly more per month then the agreed-to price. We got the NY Public Service Commisssion involved, but every month's bill turned into a new argument with Cablevision with the PSC insisting that they accept the payment of the agreed-to amount. Cablevision would accept the payment and leave the service connected, but rebilled the unpaid difference the next month as an amount past due. There were some months they'd insist they hadn't received the payment and we'd have to get a 3-way call between the bank, Cablevision and the PSC to establish that Cablevision indeed had collected the previous month's money from the account and then mis-placed it.