Comcast vs Verizon FIOS

In the last days Verizon completed their work to bring FIOS to our street. All of a sudden we go from basically no choice for Internet tv and phone to having a choice. Woo hoo! This seems to be a hot topic in the neighborhood, so I can only assume that its a hot topic in places where you are lucky enough to have these options.

One of my neighbors asked me for my thoughts and I figured it makes sense to share those here too. Now I’ve had Comcast in a few different locations and Verizon FIOS for about 6 months before we lived where we do now. I’ve also done a bunch with FIOS at my in laws house in the past few months. So intend to think I’m pretty well informed.

The differences in each service are subtle in my opinionand in general they are very very similar. My overall recommendation is go with whomever will give you the best deal.

That said here are the pros of switching to FIOS that I can see.
1) Multi-room DVR – For us having one DVR to set and being able to watch from any room is a nice feature to have. We tend to watch most things on DVR and starting downstairs and continuing upstairs is something we like. However, if you currently have multiple DVRs and are taping multiple shows on different DVRs at the same time, then switching to the FIOS multi-room DVR may be a limit and not a pro.

2) Speed. Download speeds are, as far as I can tell, comparable on both services, but my perception is that FIOS may be just a bit faster on download. If you are ever uploading large files, comcast maxes out at 5 MB and FIOS can give you 25 MB. But this is really only a difference if you are uploading large files (like a movie). That said, FIOS is much newer technology and I’d imagine that over time the speed advantage will improve with FIOS.

3) Price – If you have cell phones on verizon, you can bundle this with your FIOS plan and save 10/month. its not a lot, but its something that Comcast can’t match.

4) Network access. Both companies give you a router to connect your computers to their network. FIOS includes a wireless router as part of that and Comcast doesn’t. Depending on your home setup, this may be useful, or may be a hassle. I do a bunch of stuff to keep my network locked down, so the FIOS router is a bit of hassle, but once I have it all setup its not an issue.

Comcast has a few small advantages when it comes to mobile apps.
1) If you have an ipad or iphone the comcast mobile apps I think are a bit better as you can get your home voice mail easily on an iphone with comcast and you can watch a number of shows on demand on iphone and ipad with comcast. I don’t believe you can do that with FIOS.

2) No digging. FIOS requires that they run a line from the street to your house. They do this by digging a trench in your yard and it may also need to go under your driveway or walkway. They are pros at this but I am a bit skeptical that they can run that line under my walkway without some issues around leveling. I haven’t ever had FIOS when they had to do this, but its something you should be aware of.

3) No big box in your basement or side of your house. FIOS requires a large box (probably 1 foot wide by 2-3 feet high by 3-6 inches deep) that centralizes the services to be installed. Its basically like a brain for your system, and comcast doesn’t have this. The FIOS install is long and complicated as a result. But that box is what makes the multiroom dvr possible for example.

The only other factors that I can think of are:

– that there are definitely some differences in on demand, specifically which shows are on which services. But I don’t have a lot of detail here.

– Signal quality overall is a good one to explore more. the FIOS rep said that FIOS is higher quality at 1080i. But I haven’t noticed a significant difference. Again though because FIOS is newer technology, I would expect them to have the advantage over time.

– Last thing to mention is to look at the difference in HD channels. there are a few differences, but nothing major in my opinion.

Did I miss anything? Did I get anything wrong? If so let me know.


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