This is what a maxed out Verizon FIOS connection can do

Having moved into my current residence less than a week ago, the next logical thing to do was to test out our new blazingly fast 20 Mbps downstream/20 Mbps upstream Verizon FIOS connection to see if we were really getting what we paid for. A simple online speed test reported numbers of 20.5 Mbps and downstream 18.5 Mbps upstream, which is very good considering I’ve never actually seen results that close to what was promised. But that was only a measure of momentary bandwidth. Next, I wanted to test our connection over sustained periods, to see if Verizon was going to automatically throttle us at some point.

So I opened up my BitTorrent client and let it seed from everything I’ve downloaded in recent memory. Then I kind of forgot about it and just left it running for 24 hours while I attended to all of the other tasks involved in moving into a new place. I think I may have accidentally left an upload cap in place, so I’m in the process of running the test again. But the results were still impressive nonetheless: When I checked on BitTorrent 24 hours later, I had uploaded 150 Gigabytes. That’s 150 GB in a single day, for an average sustained upstream bandwidth of 14.2 Mbps. That is really nice, and it makes me think I’m never going to have problems downloading torrents quickly ever again (as the download speed is largely limited by the upload speed thanks to the BitTorrent protocol).

So far I’m very impressed with Verizon FIOS. It’s definitely worth the $70 a month, split three ways, that we’re paying. This house having FIOS availability was actually an important part of choosing to rent it, as ADSL is way too slow and the only cable provider in the area, Comcast, is notorious for bandwidth throttling, traffic shaping, and pretty much doing everything else in their power to prevent having to give you what you paid for.

Improvements in broadband service are proceeding at an agonizingly slow rate here in the United States, with most providers like Comcast focusing more on limiting what their customers can do with their service than building out the critical infrastructure that is so desperately needed. This tactic can only work in the short term, and it will begin to fail spectacularly as the average American begins watching more streaming video on the web and starts buying products via digital download (up until now, Comcast has gotten away with cracking down on people who use lots of bandwidth because most of them are file sharers, i.e. involved in illicit activities).

That’s why it’s so refreshing to see a company like Verizon who isn’t taking the low road and is making a serious effort to deploy fiber to the home to provide the bandwidth that will continue fueling our digital revolution. As the New York Times pointed out recently, Americans now spend almost as much on bandwidth (in all forms — Internet, digital TV, mobile Internet, mobile phones, etc.) as they do on energy. Bandwidth is a vital input to our economy, and Verizon’s approach of actually giving us a lot more bandwidth is infinitely superior to Comcast’s approach. I highly recommend Verizon FIOS.

10 Responses to “This is what a maxed out Verizon FIOS connection can do”

  1. drinian Says:

    For the record, I had some positive things happen to me with Comcast this week:
    1) I noticed that I was getting 8 mbps down/2 mpbs up, which is not bad for DOCSIS 2.0 coax.
    2) I could seed torrents again.
    3) I called Comcast customer service when my connection went down, which is fairly rare, and he was actually helpful and got me back up in 10 minutes. He also said he was happy to talk to someone who knew what a DHCP lease was.

    Comcast appears to be preparing to shut down their analog cable service within the next year or two, which will give them enough band space on their coax to do DOCSIS 3.0 speeds. It’ll also allow them to make more money off of their cable subscribers, since each TV would then need an addressable box. Not that fiber won’t always probably be easier to upgrade to faster speeds, in the long run.

    But I can’t endorse any service. FIOS is fantastic from a hardware perspective, but Verizon is under no legal obligation to share their lines like they are with copper, e.g. DSL. If I was fed up with Version DSL, I could switch to Speakeasy and get top-level service and neutrality guarantees. The fiber hasn’t been marketized yet, mostly because federal law is 1) poorly enforced, in the case of copper, leading to the lopsided market we have today, and 2) makes arbitrary distinctions between coax, copper POTS, and fiber, even though they should all be treated as data conduits.

    Net service in the US won’t really ever take off until fiber becomes a public utility, and the data that runs over it is sold in a market, with different providers competing on equal ground. (and we get rid of these two-year contracts!) Those two functions must become separated. I really like the “homes with tails” experiment that is currently taking place in Ottawa, where homeowners maintain ownership over a fiber line, all the way out to a switching box. Why on earth our regulatory system doesn’t favor this setup already is beyond me.

  2. T2A` Says:

    Comca$t does indeed suck, but since getting into potential trouble with the FCC, using torrents doesn’t reset your connection and make the interbutts unusable like in the past. :]

    The fact that that used to happen is fairly pathetic, though.

    I can’t get access to their packages for some reason, but I think Comca$t charges like $60+/month for their 15 Mbps both ways service. I think they offer a symmetrical connection, at least; I may be mistaken.

  3. William (green) Says:

    So, uh, I don’t mean to brag, but unless you mean “20 megabytes a second” I’m not too impressed. Please see this blog post. That costs me $50 a month and it’s the only kind of connection I can get, but it’s offered by four providers.
    Since I took that screenshot, I’ve had speeds of well over 3.8 MBs. As far as I can tell, the speed I can get things at usually depends more on how much bandwidth everybody else has, and the same goes for seeding.
    This connection is theoretically 100Mb/s (notice that lowercase!), but who really expects that?

  4. Cyde Weys Says:

    I just repeated the upload test over the course of a day and a couple hours, making sure that all upload limits were turned off, and my average upload speed was 16.8 Mbps. It seems to go down during the day, I guess when the network is more congested, and then goes up to full speed at night.

  5. Brion Says:

    I’m always amazed how terrible connectivity seems to be here in San Francisco, at least in my neighborhood… hills disrupt the wireless networks so much I can’t make calls on my cell from home, the copper is so ancient and frazzled I feel lucky to have working POTS, never mind ADSL, and the only options left are Comcast cable or one “competitor” leasing the same lines. :P

    I could have gotten FIOS back in Tampa if I’d picked locations carefully, but they’re just not here yet in SF…

  6. Cyde Weys Says:

    Brion: Yeah, it’s kind of hit-or-miss which areas have access to fiber-to-the-household Internet access and which don’t. Frankly, it doesn’t make much sense. The top two cities which most justify having FIOS access, New York City and San Francisco, have coverage that is spotty at best. These are the areas in which high bandwidth would really benefit the economy in lots of ways, and they have high concentrations of customers who would pay for lots of bandwidth — so deploying the fiber would earn a quick return on investment. Yet what happens? Areas like where I live, which are medium income at best, get FIOS first. I can’t figure out why.

    This also blows a huge hole in the argument that Japan has better Internet access than us because it’s not economical to deploy the same in the United States since we’re “more spread out”. We’re actually about on par with Japan in terms of overall spread-outed-ness, and we’re much less spread out than Finland, which still has much better Internet access than us. And even if our boonies are too spread out to see broadband adoption, New York City should have it at least! New York City has thrice the population density of Tokyo!

    No, the real reason for the sorry state of American Internet is the greedy telco companies and the lack of government incentives (combined with active disincentives like monopolies) that give ISPs a better reward for taking other actions, like bandwidth throttling, than simply building out the infrastructure like they should be doing.

    William: Yeah yeah, lucky you being in Japan and all. When you get back to the United States, I doubt you’ll be able to top my connection.

  7. William (green) Says:

    You’re right, then I’ll be back on my slow-ass 10Mbps connection.
    As for Japan being on equal terms with the US in terms of spread-outed-ness, how do you figure that? According to Wikipedia, Japan is 32nd for population density with 339 people per sq. km while the US is in 180th with 31 people per sq. km. Having 7% arable land does that to a country, though.

    Maybe they put it in more rural areas because it’s less work to dig around there? It seems like it would cost more to get down to the pipes in a very population dense zone. Or can they just walk around underground and run it like that?

  8. Rich Says:

    I recently heard that FIOS is indeed scheduled to be deployed to the actual District finally!!!!! Soon there will be no good reason to live in the burbs. I don’t know if I’ll be here long enough to take advantage of that, but hey, gotta love progress.

  9. I think Verizon hates me | Cyde Weys Musings Says:

    […] since we got Verizon FIOS, I’ve been using it to the maximum because, why not?, we’re paying for it. BitTorrent […]

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