Lyle Schofield's Technical Journal

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FIOS Gig-Ethernet Installation

30 July, 2019 (15:17) | Hardware, Services | By: Lyle

My DSL line served me well, almost 20 years. It lived through 4 different ISPs, each getting bought and sold along the way, but always the same circuit. When it was first installed I felt like the fastest man on the Internet. 1.5M downloads, 786K uploads, low latency.

That was a long time ago. The past 8 years or so has seen a series of noticeable problems. Verizon was clearly allowing the copper to degrade. Length tests from the switching office originally were a DSL happy 13,000 ft. Over time they creeped up to 18,000, then 24,000, then a DSL very unhappy 28,000. Noise problems on the line caused more frequent service calls and modems were being replaced regularly. Streaming video kind of demands 3M downloads to get started with decent picture quality.

Verizon now no longer supports copper in my neighborhood. We had to switch by August 1, and spent some time comparing the Verizon FIOS offering to the Xfinity coax based networking. I had a bias to Xfinity from another property (the IOS app is good, 25 M/sec was good), but we went with Verizon out of a lower cost bundle of services. I didn’t really pay attention to the speed of networking since I knew it would be much better than what we had, but we apparently purchased Gig-Ethernet.

The installation wasn’t entirely smooth. I felt sorry for the team pulling the cable; typical DC summer weather and they were out there 5 hours fishing the cable under the driveway. The installation the next day was a debacle. After disconnecting the copper the fiber-optic cable couldn’t be lit up because the connection in the switching office for us was occupied already. No explanation about that housekeeping error, but not the technician’s fault. Day three to finish up installing, the voice line is all messed up. Probably the wiring in the house was old and degraded, but only the kitchen phone works now forcing another upgrade to a wireless hub setup.

First thing; a bandwidth test. I ran Ookla’s speedtest.net and was expecting around 50 M/sec which is what I remembered from researching costs before committing:

Ookla Speedtest.net for Wifi

Wow, a lot more than 50! I showed the number to the technician who said it was gig-ethernet, I should be seeing well more than that. The 124/148 down/up was through wi-fi only, so hanging around the bandwidth limit of that technology. I repeated the test from a desktop wired computer and it was closer to 100 (went down). Then I realized I didn’t have any gig-ethernet switches in the house. When your running 1.5 DSL there isn’t much need to replace switches, and most of them were around 15 years old when 10/100 felt like an upgrade.

I have two switches; one at the router and another in the office where there is a cluster of machines and printers. The simple Netgear PROSafe GS105 is a low-cost switch, and is able to deal with some of the ports being 10 or 100 or 1000 without throttling down all of them. Test results are now quite different:

Ookla Speedtest.net for Wired Cat 5e

This is crazy bandwidth for desktop computing. The theoretical 1000 Mbps limit is not being hit, but the likely culprit could be less-than-Cat6 wires, or even the limit of what the port on the computer is taking in as it runs its network drivers. Gig speeds should allow 20 HD movies to be watched simultaneously in the home, so it’s radical overkill for almost any home use with a modest number of people in the home.

No complaints on the product; more than happy with the experience before we even get into the 250 channels of TV and voice service in the bundle.

The installation could have been much cleaner. The issue with the port being available for us on the second (and what should have been the last) day of install is just a dumb mistake. But, the copper was disconnected before this was discovered so we had no service until the installation was completed the next day. Verizon might want to think about verifying the fiber is lit before disconnecting anything. I don’t think it was a block to the FIOS install to leave the copper POTS in place until the cutover.

And, we’ll likely be cheaper in the end. The monthly FIOS bill is less than the old voice + DSL + Tivo bills together.

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