When I first moved into my apartment in Kew Gardens, I got all of the utilities set up and prepared for the very important step of choosing an internet provider. I then found out that I had exactly one choice for a provider of high speed internet and that was Time Warner. I called them and got the best deal that they had at the time for internet access and television, and signed a two year contract with a guarantee for no increase in price.

For nearly three full years I endured the many problems with Time Warner. The computers would suddenly lose their connection, even if they were in the same room as the router, and both the modem and router would have to be reset — per the instructions of Time Warner. The speed was fairly good at first but over time the download speed got to be pretty bad — sometimes we would be watching Netflix and it would stop and buffer numerous times during a half hour television show.

One day I was walking down the stairs and I noticed a large hole drilled on every floor in the stairwell. A couple of weeks later, a pipe was installed. Soon, it was clear what was happening — every floor had large boxes installed on the wall, with Verizon written prominently on each box. Cables were soon coming out of the boxes and leading to the halls, where they went above every door to every single apartment.

I called Verizon about a month later, eager to find out if all of this meant that I could find out when I might be able to cut myself free from the shackles of Time Warner. It was a particularly upsetting evening when I called, as our computers were unable to get online unless they were directly connected to the modem — going through the router did not work no matter what we did. When the woman at Time Warner suggested that my modem was working at twenty-five percent capacity, I nearly hung up the phone with her but waited to schedule someone to replace the modem.

The person at Verizon said that nothing was available for my building yet but that the hardware installation was definitely a good sign and that I should watch out for people with tables near my building with signs and fliers from Verizon. It only took two weeks for the people to show up with the tables and the signs and the fliers, bringing me much glee. I sent a message to Elizabeth informing her that the Verizon people were outside and both she and Chaim came down, Chaim running down the sidewalk with no socks or shoes. That is just how excited they were.

I was really eager and excited to sign up for FiOS service however the salesperson kept on insisting that the best deal for me would be the so-called Triple play of television, internet access, and telephone for $118 per month including taxes and everything. I told him that we weren’t interested in having a landline because we both had phones that we carried with us at all times. He said that it wouldn’t be much more — maybe a dollar or so more and that we would not get a free multi-room DVR. I followed this by saying that we only had one television and would only ever have one while we were in the apartment. I didn’t have time to argue as it was Friday afternoon so I signed up for the triple play and scheduled an installation time.

Saturday night came and I called to find out if I could change the installation to be internet access and television only. The person at Verizon said it was no problem and switched me to a $108 monthly plan for 25 MB/s download speed.

On the day of the installation I got regular updates from Elizabeth, including one that said that there were numerous teams of Verizon installers going to different part of the building and that there were numerous electricians on hand because the buildings were built in 1950 and nearly every apartment had electrical outlets that required grounding before they could be used with the Verizon modems. I specifically told Elizabeth not to let them force a router on us and that ours was more than adequate however this proved impossible when it turned out that their modem and router is one unit. Wiring to the modem / router was spooled from the front door to the television and very neatly pinned down to the wall.

It has been just about two months since we have gotten Verizon Fios in our life and I am happy to say that it has been well worth every penny. In the time we have had it, we have had exactly zero interruptions of service — we have never had to restart the modem / router. The speed is blazing fast, and Netflix has had not a single hiccup. I have had two computers downloading exceedingly large files simultaneously while streaming a movie over Netflix and downloading a large system update to our PS3 and there were no issues anywhere. Moreover, I have been able to get updates to iTunes without any problems — in the past, if I wanted to update iTunes I had to connect my computer directly to the modem in order for it to work properly.

Whereas before, I was calling Time Warner at least once or so per month to complain about the speed of my connection, I have not had to call Verizon even once since I called to change my order. I have seen reviews online that say that their customer service is abysmal however I did not find this to be the case — they went out of their way to make sure that I was happy with the service.

While you may not have access to Verizon Fios yet, I would strongly recommend that you sign up with them the day that you can. The service is superb and well worth the money you will spend on it.

9 Comments

  1. Hey Gordon

    I live in the UK so none of this has a direct bearing on me. I just wanted to ask a few things – were you using a router provided by TW, and if so, did they ever offer to replace it? It just sounds, from your description of events, as though the router you were using was either an old single band model that couldn’t handle the N standard, or else it was suffering a slow and premature death. If you were using a router provided by them, either option would be just as likely: if US providers are anything like their UK counterparts, they’re fond of cutting costs by providing cruddy “free” hardware. If they were seeing your modem at 25% capacity, and you were seeing painfully slow throughput, someone really ought to have suggested the router as a possible bottleneck. The fact you mention occasionally only being able to get online via a wired connection further supports this.

    I’m not saying TW or Verizon’s services are any better or worse than what you’ve experienced – I’ve no idea – just that it may not have been a problem with TW’s infrastructure or service (although their customer service was clearly poor), but rather the hardware at your end of the pipe. It’s almost a shame Verizon’s router and modem are integrated, as it seems you were happy with your router: it’d be interesting to know if you’d have the same problem if you changed all but that component. Still, glad to hear you’ve got a more healthy speed now!

      1. “I specifically told Elizabeth not to let them force a router on us and that ours was more than adequate however this proved impossible when it turned out that their modem and router is one unit.”

        Unless I’ve misunderstood, you changed both the modem AND the router, so it’s hard to definitively blame the modem. It may be that the Verizon customer support team are trained to lie to customers about their diagnostic readings, or it may be that their diagnostic readings were faulty, but equally possibly your router could have been faulty. Like I said, I’ve no interest in defending Verizon, who by all accounts are rather crappy operators, it’s just that reading through your description of the symptoms, the router would’ve been my first port of call to establish definitively that the problem was with their infrastructure and/or throttling, and not a hardware issue local to your home.

        It’s a shame your speedtest results were taken over wifi, as a cable straight from the modem is the best way to work out whether your provider is screwing you.

    1. Yeah, sorry – my bad mixing up TW and Verizon – a whole day’s passed since I read the OP on this side of the pond y’know? 😉

      My point remains that when you switched from a seemingly crappy and slow provider (TWC) to a seemingly fast and helpful one, you changed not just the modem and the cable, but also the router. It’s entirely possible that TW were pushing a slow service to your door, but you can’t rule out the possibility that the router was defective. It’s just odd that TW didn’t suggest that, because if they genuinely thought your modem was performing fine, it’d be the obvious place to look next.