How Does Verizon FiOS Work?

by Erik Arvidson

Verizon FiOS is an Internet, TV and phone service offered by Verizon Communications Inc. in some parts of the U.S. It uses fiber optic cables -- which offers a large transmission capacity -- to deliver services from its facilities to homes and business. As of 2011, FiOS TV offers close to 600 channels, including more than 150 in high definition. In addition, FiOS Internet offers download speeds of up to 50 megabits per second.


Telephone companies began use optic fibers to improve their communications infrastructure in the 1970s and 1980s. This is because of the huge amount of bandwidth this technology offers compared to traditional copper wires. An optical fiber is basically a thin strand of glass through which light is transmitted, and can carry trillions of bits per second. In 2004, Verizon began its nationwide deployment of fiber to the premises, in which optical fiber is installed to connect each home. As of April 2011, FiOS was available in 16 states, mostly in the northeast.


Homeowners and businesses can order FiOS services a la carte, or as a bundled service with TV, phone and Internet -- called a "triple play package." This package typically includes an introductory price of between $85-$99 per month for one year, after which the monthly rate is increased to a standard price. Verizon also offers "double play" bundles, which might include Internet and phone, or Internet and TV together. Virtually all bundles come with unlimited nationwide calling. However, each FiOS bundle price may vary according to which TV package is selected. FiOS offers a Local Channel Package for $12.99 per month, a "Prime HD" Package with 185 channels for $65 per month, an "Extreme HD" Package with 280 channels for $75 per month, and an "Ultimate HD" Package with 345 channels for $90 per month. FiOS also offers "La Conexion" that includes Spanish-language programming.


A homeowner who orders FiOS can typically expect the home installation to take hours. The Verizon technician must first run optical cable from the fiber distribution terminal on a street pole into the home. This includes drilling a small hole in the side of the house and installing an optical network terminal somewhere inside the house (typically in a basement or closet). The optical network terminal is responsible for converting optical light into data and providing the dial tone for the phone service. A router is provided for wireless networking.


Verizon FiOS competes with cable companies such as Comcast XFinity, which also offers TV, phone and Internet services. Another competitor is AT&T; U-Verse, which also uses a fiber optic technology to deliver services. However, according to Bloomberg, AT&T;'s fiber-based networks rely on copper cables for part of the data transmission to homes and businesses, which causes bottlenecks and doesn't offer the same transmission speeds as FiOS.

About the Author

Erik Arvidson has 12 years of professional writing experience, including six years as a senior reporter at the Massachusetts Statehouse for several suburban dailies, and most recently as PR Manager of a telecommunications company near Boston. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English/communications from North Adams State College.