Time to Switch From Comcast to FIOS? This is BIG!

July 9, 2010

Looking at the monthly cable bill, I realize that we are paying too much.  About $160 a month for Comcast’s phone, HD cable and high speed Internet.  Is it time for FIOS?

After going through their on-line tools, it appears they are about the same cost for a new subscriber.   Before taxes, $3,060 over 24 months for Comcast (sorry I can’t get used to Xfinity) whereas Verizon is $3,120 for comparable service.  It’s important that you read the fine print on these deals given the monthly rates change over time.  I configured both services to include equipment for two HDTVs as well as a DVR.  For Internet speeds, I currently get anywhere between 8 and 30 Mbps down/ 2 to 5 Mbps up from Comcast so I used the 25 Mbps plan from Verizon to compare.

I could have saved some money with Verizon by going with their Prime HD package (230 channels with 40 in HD).  However, it was missing BBC America which puts me into their ExtremeHD deal.  I really wish that one could buy cable stations a la carte.  I should just buy a season pass for Doctor Who on iTunes ($33 for a season which I would quickly recoup from the lower cost package).

So, what’s the Hub to do?  Assuming Comcast honors their new customer pricing for me, staying with Comcast would be convenient and it currently works well.  I’ve heard Fios installs are an all day affair.  Comcast is also giving away a free IPod Touch.  On the other hand, FIOS has a few advantages.  Verizon has a great reputation for HD picture quality.  On a new installation, they run a hard line to one computer which would save me the trouble of running an ethernet line to the attic.  Finally, their DVR solution seems superior between the widgets and the ability to watch recorded programs on any connected cable box.  However, Comcast is catching up in this area.

Yes, I am actually considering retiring the TiVo as the primary DVR.  I am at least open to trying it.  As much as I love TiVo, the cable company DVRs have more capacity.  They also don’t significantly add to the cost over a two year period.  I have this nagging feeling that TiVo may die soon (all hard drives eventually go) and my Series3 is an unhacked unit (meaning not backed up).  TiVo will probably go to the attic (the physical location of the hub) and spend its remaining days recording off of antenna.

Any input on which direction I should go in?  There’s part of me that wants to root for the Comcast guy in those commercials.  Please share any thoughts on your experiences with Comcast or FIOS.  Please comment after this commercial break.

Tags: cable, comcast, dvr, FIOS, TiVo, Verizon, Xfinity

6 Responses to Time to Switch From Comcast to FIOS? This is BIG!

  1. Mat "The" Graham on July 9, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    There is always the somewhat more complicated but also cheaper route of not going with the bundle package. I went with:
    Vonage for the phone (Around $20 a month flat rate)
    Dish network- for TV pick the package you want and a 100 hour DVR is only $5 a month extra HD may cost more.
    Verizon DSL for internet. of course my upload download needs may not equal yours.

    of course this will increase in price as you upgrade to better show packages, better upload and download rates, whats available in your area, but for my needs going with just one company actually cost me more, even with the bundle "discounts". ….And there is a lot to be said for bartering with the companies for better rates based on comparable offers from other companies.

  2. The Hub on July 10, 2010 at 9:27 am

    Well played Mat. Another approach is to go with just basic cable or I could just hook up the Tivo to antenna and only pay for Internet. Hulu plus could get most cable shows in HD for $10 a month. MLB.com could make up some of the sports gap. Only problem with hulu plus is that I do not own a hulu device (PS3 and my samsung hdtv is too old?)

    I will think a little more today about how I could pull the plug or at least just go for the most basic Verizon bundle @ $89. It's also is a good reason to go month to month. 12 months from now we may see a lot of other online options for watching show. Apparently, Apple has been working on a .99 per show or subscription deal for some time.

    The other option is to get rid of the land line. One could just live with the cell phone. There have been a couple of emergencies where the land line has come in handy.

  3. Verizon on July 13, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    Thanks for the fantastic overview of Verizon FiOS versus Comcast. You hit the nail on the head with your comparison. Much appreciated!


  4. Peter Murray on August 13, 2010 at 8:38 am

    I know I'm coming late to this discussion, but I'll post what I wrote up (and just finished):

    Having spent years as an ISP engineer, I have no love for Verizon – but it isn't why I refuse to work with them as a company.

    The Telecommunications Act of 1996 mandated that Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers (ILECs, like Bell Atlantic, NYNEX, Qwest and PacBell) had to open their copper infrastructure to competition, in exchange for a change in regulations that would permit them to compete for long distance services.

    As a result of this legislation, ISPs and new Competitive Local Exchange Carriers (CLECs) jumped at the opportunity to have access to existing infrastructure and the customer base to which it was connected.

    The lobbyists ensured that the copper infrastructure was specifically called out – any non-copper was excluded. At the time, this didn't seem like a big deal, as last-mile delivery of services was done on the copper pairs that had been installed and maintained by Ma Bell and the subsequent sub-components of that broken monopoly.

    Flash forward to now, and the result is a copper infrastructure that is neglected, and a closed fiber infrastructure towards which Verizon is pushing all their customers.

    At least they have been convinced that destroying the existing copper infrastructure when they do a FIOS install these days.

    That all said, there is a lot one can do with the PS3 – Check out TVersity – it purports to allow Hulu watching via uPNP and your PS3.

    I was greatly annoyed to discover that while my TiVo HD will receive Clear QAM from my Cox cable, it gets no guide data, so it won't record anything from there without completely manual scheduling. It isn't something they point out… If you want to record from cable without everything being a manual program, you *have* to get cablecards.

    Another note: If you get them, do your best to get dual-stream cablecards – else you may end up with two single-stream cards – and you're paying for each one.

  5. The Hub on August 18, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    Great info Pete. I wonder if Verizon's and all other hard-line to the house providers will ultimately lose their advantage. At some point, will wireless technologies will provide so much bandwidth they will be to compete head to head with folks like Verizon & Comcast? Satellite is already doing it on the TV part of the equation.

  6. Peter Murray on August 19, 2010 at 8:45 am

    Wireless will always lag behind wireline – mainly because there are always more services fighting for very limited spectra. Fiber to the premise is definitely a great leap forward, but it is too bad that the infrastructure is not open to competition. Verizon is certainly taking a risk by investing the way they are, but they can afford to – they have had stewardship of (and income from) federally funded infrastructure for decades, and don't want to give up the competitive advantage they currently enjoy.

    That said, I'd like to see VZ be enjoined from using wireless (I'm not referring to VZ Wireless here) technologies for home services – let their competition have that space, since few have deep enough pockets to be able to compete with "wired" infrastructure.

    I will say that in my market, Cox has really stepped up their game (certainly prompted by the rollout of FIOS in their high-dollar markets – but I do not understand why cable companies don't try to make their business services appear more "premium" with their delivery. I have Comcast cable here at my office (just for internet service) – and my impression of their service providers (the installation tech, the sales and support people) is that they're of the same quality as your typical government employee. The service itself has been fine, but beyond some minimal marketing efforts, they don't try to shine up the service and make it appear "high tech" in the vein of a Cogent fiber circuit, for example. It is the low expectation they set that will keep them from ever being able to raise their data rates…

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