Verizon debuts 150/35 Mbps FiOS speed tier

Verizon's (NYSE: VZ) new 150/35 Mbps speed FiOS Fiber to the Premises (FTTP) speed tier is yet another way the service provider is set on one-upping cable's DOCSIS 3.0 efforts.

Initially targeting the 12.5 million residences that the FiOS network passes, Verizon will also extend the service to SMB customers by the end of the year.  

Under the current pricing scheme, Verizon will offer four options. Customers can purchase the new speed tier with wireline voice service for $194.99 with a one-year contract, while FiOS Internet with phone service on a month-to-month basis is $209.99. When purchased on a one-year contract without wireline voice, customers will pay $199.99, while FiOS Internet without voice on a month-to-month basis will cost $214.99 per month.

Of course, the new 150 Mbps service comes with the typical installation fee of $49.99, while customers that want a month-to-month contract will have to pay a $79.99 installation fee.

Other than saying it would be initially available to a large piece of its subscriber base, John Schommer, director of broadband product development for Verizon, would not specify how many subscribers would be eligible for the service. "Inside of the CO itself, you'll deploy an Optical Line Terminal (OLT) and as long as there's a GPON terminal available there, everyone in the wiring center can receive the new speed," he said. "We don't want to give out the number, but it's a vast majority of our customers can receive the service on day one."

The installation of the new service, even for BPON-based customers, will be relatively quick for existing customers because the fiber drops are already there. If a customer is still on the BPON network, Verizon will just swap out the Optical Network Terminal (ONT) on the side of the house with a new GPON-based ONT.   

One of the biggest changes with the new speed tier is that it will leverage an Ethernet instead of Multimedia over Coax (MoCA) to connect to the home network's Actiontec Broadband Home Router (BHR).

"The one difference with this is we've actually gone faster than MoCA has developed in this timeframe," Schommer said. "Some of the next version of MoCA will handle speeds that are slightly higher than this, but we're going for Ethernet."  

MoCA 1.1 currently provides 175 Mbps of throughput while version 2.0 can deliver up to 1 Gbps in particular configurations. After placing the GPON ONT on the side of the user's home, Verizon will then run Ethernet cable back into the BHR.

With the Actiontec broadband home router (BHR), which includes a GigE interface and 802.11n, Verizon claims it can deliver 300 Mbps throughput on a wired connection and over 100 Mbps via a WiFi connection on the BHR.

Even though the 150/35 Mbps tier won't appeal to every user, Schommer said "there's always a rush for people that demand the highest available speeds, so we anticipate a bit of a rush this week, but we expect that to slow down over time."

Obviously, the new service is all about trumping cable. Comparable options from Cablevision offer 101 Mbps download capabilities, while Comcast and Time Warner Cable offer 50 Mbps.

With a substantial base of GPON-based equipment already installed in their network, Verizon's 150 Mbps service follows its XG PON trials where it demonstrated the ability to deliver a 10 Gbps/1Gbps connection to a home in Taunton, MA.

Schommer said that while the XG PON trials are encouraging, Verizon will migrate to the next stage as needed. "Verizon will increase speeds as it sees penetration increase over time, we will offer the higher speeds obviously and as those speeds increase, we'll look to deploy the next-generation of the GPON terminals," he said. "I don't see foresee that being in the immediate future, but rather a year two or three down the road."  

But if you're not ready for the 150/35 Mbps service, fear not. Verizon will continue to offer its 50/20 Mbps, 25/25 and 15/5 speed tiers on a stand-alone basis. It will also offer FiOS Internet speeds of 35/35 Mbps, 25/25 Mbps and 15/5 Mbps in double-, triple- and quadruple-play bundles.

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