Stalking Verizon FiOS in the Jersey Jungle

Nothing gets the Light Reading Monkey juiced like pole climbing and wire swinging action in the field. Our latest foray into broadband market guerrilla coverage takes us to the Jungleland of northern New Jersey (couldn't resist a Springsteen reference), stalking the beast known as Verizon FiOS.

Bushwhacking through one Jersey neighborhood. we captured FiOS up and running in its natural fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) habitat. We fired six shots and hit on each one.

First up is a FiOS Fiber Distribution Hub. This photo captures the beast after it shimmied up a pole.

In the next photo, we see fiber taps and plenty of optical cable ready to reach out and touch new customers.

In this woodsy clearing, we see another distribution hub in the wild, this time sitting at ground level.

Since the box was not locked, nor was a no-trespassing sign posted, we assumed Verizon was inviting passersby to inspect their equipment. We were happy to oblige. They are probably too preoccupied with trojans and DOS attacks to bother with physical network security. Here you see inside the belly of the beast. Looks as if about 50 customers are connected through these boards.

In this deployment, Verizon is apparently using ADC's FTTP platform. That is, the Pathways product it acquired with FONS last year. It's refreshing to see Bellheads have a sense of humor. Here it seems the install tech found the FONS name tiresome, maybe a little too "Happy Days." So, they toughened it up, renaming it after a butt-kicking German named Franz.

To ensure FiOS remains plug-and-play, Verizon posted simple installation instructions in the unit. Perhaps a customer self-install option is coming soon? Just open the unlocked cabinet and plug yourself in.

In any case, Verizon is rapidly adding fiber to its residential diet. Cablevision has already gobbled up one in five telephone customers across its New York and New Jersey territories by pushing an aggressive $99 bundle of voice, video, and data services. Comcast is now widely marketing a similar offer in a move to take a further bite out of the telecom gorilla.

Since Verizon has not yet succeeded in gaining a statewide video franchise agreement in New Jersey, the Bell is currently pushing very high-speed Internet access via FiOS. Verizon's 10-Mbit/s downstream and 2-Mbit/s upstream service is priced at $34.95 per month in the Garden State, while its 20-Mbit/s downstream, 5-Mbit/s upstream service is $44.95 monthly. The marketing pitch: Buy FiOS for broadband Internet now, and stay tuned for future TV services.

- Michael Harris, Chief Analyst, Cable Digital News

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