Bethlehem to consider Verizon cable TV proposal Albany Times Union, December 21, 2010
BETHLEHEM — The town is will hold a public hearing next month on Verizon’s plan to offer cable TV service.
The town has been negotiating with Verizon, which is seeking a cable TV franchise to offer its FiOS TV service to residents.
Currently, only Time Warner Cable is able to offer TV service in the town, although if approved, Verizon would have to expand its FiOS fiber optic system to ensure that all town residents could get the service.
The Town Board is scheduled to vote this week at its meeting on Wednesday to set the public hearing for Jan. 12.
Post by Chris Miller on Dec 21, 2010 12:57:43 GMT -5
I want to attend this public opinion meeting. It's currently scheduled for Wednesday, January 12th. I want to know about cost and quality of Verizon FiOS service. As much as Time Warner Cable annoys me with their CCI byte being set to "Copy Once" for everything but the local channels, they don't charge for service calls or for replacement units. I would also want to know about their levels of support and what support will be provided on nights and weekends. I would want to know if they planning on setting the CCI byte for any of the channels.
I have had 100% uptime with FiOS Internet, but the few times that I have had to call their support, it has been repeated exercises in frustration. My IP address is assigned over PPoE and I asked once about being switched over to DHCP. It took the better part of a half hour before they they could figure out that the answer was "No". Mind you, DCHP would be at best 0.5% faster, I wanted to see if I could switched over.
Some of the features with FiOS TV look pretty interesting. Their iPad App would be nice to have.
I'd be pretty surprised if any Verizon rep at the meeting knew what a CCI byte is, much less how they plan to set it. When I got their Internet service I asked several of their reps if they offered a Usenet service; none of them knew what I was talking about.
Yeah, IMO, Verizon "support" is clueless on every product they have (wireless, internet, FIOS, etc.) However, if I were to factor in the equal cluelessness of TW CSR for Cable Card/Tuning Adapter, not to mention their truckroll technicians, I'd say it's about even with the amount of time I've wasted getting no help.
I'm in Colonie, so I'll have to contact our town office to see when/if the public hearing is scheduled.
I would mainly be interested in getting rid of the CCI Byte and the most hated thing of all: The stupid tuning adapter/SDV. What a royal pain, IMO.
Post by Chris Miller on Dec 21, 2010 23:20:03 GMT -5
As far as I can tell, Verizon is not setting the CCI byte in the markets that it covers. They sold off a few FiOS markets to Frontier, mainly in the western parts of the country. Frontier FiOS users have had a few issues since the change over, one of which was having the CCI byte set to copy once on everything except local channels. Verizon FiOS markets still appear to be have CCI set to Copy Freely.
There are rumors that Verizon wants to implement IPTV. If that replaces their current delivery system, then it's game over for anyone that wants to use a TiVo.
I'm trying to come up with a list of questions to bring to the 1/12 meeting. I don't expect that the VZW reps will be able to answer all of them on the spot, but I can request a followup email.
The questions that I have so far:
What is their time table for deployment? They halted their FiOS deployment in Bethlehem before they had covered the entire town. I have it, but I know people here who can't get it.
Would our deployment go out concurrently with other service areas (i.e. Buffalo), or will they have to free up resources with getting out services up and running first?
What sort of infrastructure is being built to service this area?
Will a tuning adapter be required for Cablecard based devices (i.e. TiVo, Ceton, etc)? Answered by @fiostv:...there is no reason for a tuning adapter....
What is the schedule for deploying IPTV for our service aread?
Will Cablecard still be supported for devices that do not support IPTV? Answered by @fiostv: CableCARD can be made to work over IP delivery.
Will Cablecard devices have access to the same channel lineup as the IPTV devices? Answered by @fiostv:...the goal is full access to content.
Where will we be able to bring faulty equipment for exchanges? Answered by VZ: Replacements can be ordered online or exchanged at local store.
Will local stores be available in this area?
Can external drives be added to VZ's DVRs? Answered by VZ: Not currently, but ESATA will be supported in the next version
What will be the pricing for their STB, DVR, and Cablecard.
Will there be local and regional sports coverage? (TWC provides Syracuse football and basketball games.) Answered by @fiostv: yes... all in some location... subset in some locations... depends
Will there be a local news channel like TWC's YNN channel?
Will long term (1-2 year) service contracts be required for service? Basically if they suck and I want to go back to TWC, will there be an early termination fee? Answered by VZ: You can pay month by month or lock the rates with a two year contract
What combinations of all in one packages (voice, internet, tv) will be offered?
Will the Triple Play package be available with their VOIP product, FiOS Digital Voice or will it be limited to the POTS Freedom Essentials product? Answered by @fiostv:FiOS Digital Voice will be an option
Will support be locally based or from a remote call center? (TWC has a national helpdesk via twitter, plus local support, and remote support via chat)
Will they charge for service calls? (TWC typically does not) Answered by VZ: No charge for service calls.
Can their DVR be programmed remotely. from the WEB and from a smart phone device? Answered by VZ: The DVR can be remotely programmed over the web.
Does VZ offer the same sorts of plan discounts that VZ Wireless offers for educators?
Will the Home Automation package demoed at CES 2011 be available in this market and what will the requirements be?
If anyone can suggest other questions. I'll add them to my list. I spent some time online with both FiOS TV sales agents and with Time Warner Cable sales agents. I was able to get some of the questions answered and I posted that information on my blog and updated the list here.
Post by Chris Miller on Jan 3, 2011 15:12:52 GMT -5
What are people paying for their all in one package from Time Warner? Has anyone had long enough to be paying more the trial offer? I couldn't get a specific answer from Verizon about how much do the rates go up after their trial period.
My cable is pretty cheap, to be honest. I still have the $20 customer loyalty discount, otherwise I'd be paying about $80/month for cable alone (it's about $45 plus the cable cards and taxes). I have no other TW services. I just hate the tuning adapter and SDV garbage with my Tivo, so that's why I'm keenly interested in FIOS TV. (I have FIOS Internet).
Post by Chris Miller on Jan 6, 2011 12:01:56 GMT -5
Sony announced at CES 2011 that Time Warner will be supplying all of it's programming over IPTV to select broadband connected Sony Bravia this year. That means no set top box, all of that functionality would be handled by the Bravia. If they switch over to IPTV completely (with set top boxes as needed), that would turn all our TiVos into expensive bricks. I added the IPTV question to my list for VZW.
How does one get the $20 customer loyalty discount from TWC?
The loyalty discount was years ago when I switched from DTV to TW Cable. It USED to be $40/month discount. Then one year they just whacked it down to $20. I'm not sure what "level" of cable I have since they're constantly changing the package names, etc. I have standard+basic and one Premium (SHO because of the $5/month special). I just detest DTV is all. My sister just signed up like 3 months ago with DTV. Then over Black Friday they got an HDTV (they had standard before). DTV charged them $270 to upgrade the receiver to an HD model. Nothing she could do since it's a 2-year contract with them.
I'm not a big TW fan either. I am curious as to Verizon's pricing as well.
Post by Chris Miller on Jan 7, 2011 19:47:57 GMT -5
Verizon's pricing and lineups is a bit fuzzy, it depends on the market. To view the specific pricing and packages on their site, you need an address with a zipcode.
Based on a few conversations with FiOS TV sales agents, there would be a triple play package that would be $89.95 a month for 1 year. There is a general description of it here. That would consist of the following:
180+ channels (45+ in HD)
FiOS Internet on the 15Mbps/5Mbps plan
Phone service with unlimited dialing in the country
After the 1 year period, the rate would jump about $40 a month. With the Multi-room DVR, additional set top boxes can access the recorded shows on the DVR. What we don't know is what channels will be offered on their basic triple play band. Given that they are going up against TWC, the lineups should be fairly similar.
Their Ultimate triple Package with 395 channels and 35 Mbps/35 Mbps goes for 129.95 a month.
If you want to get something fancier, they have additional plans. I asked for the price for a setup with faster Internet, and 3 additional TVs (one using TiVo). For the Ulimate package with 2 additional set top boxes, and a Cablecard for the TiVo, the total came to $138.97 a month.
I have a couple of Series 2 TiVos and a TiVo HD. If I take the Series 2 boxes off my account, I think the Ultimate package would be cheaper than what I am paying now across the TiVo/TWC/Verizon bills. I would keep the TiVo HD around until Verizon switches over to IPTV completely, which would be game over for TiVo (or anything that uses a Cablecard).
I wonder if Verizon will offer VOIP rather than their "standard" phone service. I ask because if the above price is for a regular phone line, then you have to add another $12/month in taxes and fees whereas if you had say, Vonage or their Digital Voice (which apparently is no longer offered at all in the entire state of NY), then the taxes/fees are less. Not to mention the features. Regular verizon line is crummy for features.
Post by Chris Miller on Jan 9, 2011 21:50:40 GMT -5
As far as I can tell, the phone service offered with the Triple Play package is their Freedom Essentials, which is POTS. I have a FiOS Internet/Freedom Essentials bundle now. After taxes and other charges, I pay about $92 a month for unlimited local and LD dialing with a FiOS 20Mbps/5Mbps plan.
Their VOIP plan is called FiOS Digital Voice. In Slingerlands, they offer a bundle of FiOS Voice and Internet for $65 a month, but the Internet is slightly slower at 15 Mbps/5Mbps. I'm thinking about switching to that plan. I would hate to drop from 20Mbps to 15, but after you factor the taxes, it should $20 a month cheaper. I think they have other plans with higher FiOS data rates, but it's not listed online.
If you already have FiOS Internet, Digital Voice uses the same hardware as Freedom Essentials. To switch from Freedom Essentials to Digital Voice, they just make the change at the office. Nothing additional needs to be installed. From the user's viewpoint, the usage and sound quality are about the same. Freedom Essentials is a prioritized 128K data stream, and gets packaged up into IP packets, but it does not use any of the VOIP protocols. The ONT that is supplied as part of the FiOS install manages the Freedom Voice over the FiOS line. Since the Freedom Voice packets are managed at the ONT, it doesn't affect the traffic on your local LAN, unlike true VOIP.
FiOS Digital Voice is a true VOIP product and it uses VOIP protols. You can still use analog phone with your existing jacks, the ONT manages that for you. You can also use SIP enabled phones on your LAN and make calls from your PC (with the appropriate software). I took a quick peek at the online manual for Freedom Voice, it has some cool VOIP features that are just not available with Freedom Voice.