Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Battle of the Broadbands

Just before I moved from my townhouse in Town Center, Verizon was digging up the neighborhood installing new fiber optic lines for their FIOS service. My neighbors and I applauded this development and looked forward to the day when we could all tell Comcast to stick it.

Ultimately, I moved to Ellicott City before the FIOS service was activated. In my new "hood" my choices for broadband were limited to Comcast and Ellicott City Cable Company. Let's just say that I never considered Ellicott City Cable Company to be a real choice even though the developer tried to make the service mandatory for all homeowners. I credit Ken Ulman for rectifying that situation. I believe it is one on the main reasons he did so well in what at least appears to be a predominately Republican neighborhood.

People may not be well informed on most issues but they sure as hell are informed about their cable service.


A year and a half later, Verizon has arrived on my street. Since I was chomping at the bit to drop Comcast, I jumped at the opportunity to switch to Verizon. Perhaps I jumped too fast.

It's not that I don't like the service. The FIOS broadband is fast. It is most noticeable when downloading videos. The FIOS TV is another story.

Verizon gives you three set top boxes at no additional charge. Comcast charges for each and every box. This would seem to give FIOS a huge advantage expect for the fact that with FIOS you need a box for virtually every TV in the house. With Comcast you can simply plug the coaxial cable into the back of the set and get 90 some channels. When you plug the FIOS cable directly into the TV you get about 20. FIOS claims you get 40 something but the reality is that many are duplicates (you get the NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox stations in both Washington and Baltimore).

Still, the savings are there. I figure that with Verizon I am saving about $40.00 a month over what I was paying for Comcast so that's a plus on the Verizon side.

On the negative side, Verizon had to dig a new trench from the street to the side of my house. This did not go over well with Mama Wordbones who has spent countless hours trying to keep our new front yard healthy and presentable. Why, she wanted to know, couldn't they have put that line in before the house was finished like Comcast and ECC did?

Another negative was the learning curve. While I consider myself an easy adapter of new technology Mama Wordbones is another story. She had finally mastered the TV remote with Comcast and now she was being forced to relearn how to find HGTV and the Today Show. She also was not pleased with having a new set top box on the kitchen counter (it has since been relocated).

So it is not so simple. For now we will forge ahead with FIOS because I am already knee deep in it. I will say that their customer service is terrific which is an adjective I never used for Comcast in my many years of being their customer. Other than that I am not yet convinced that, aside from the economics, the switch was worth it.


Young at Heart said...

Mama Wordbones sounds like someone I could really relate to.

wordbones said...

As the saying goes, "if mama ain't happy ain't nobody happy."

David W. Keelan said...


If you ever have problems with you FiOS call me.

wordbones said...

Thank you. In fact, I just got an email from Mama Wordbones...she is still using her comcast account. She says she is having trouble building a meaningful relationship with her new verizon account. Is there truly help for people like that?