“Fiber” is the big buzzword in broadband plans lately. There’s a reason it’s getting so much attention: Verizon Fios.

For most Americans, choosing an Internet provider means deciding between cable and DSL. For the lucky few in the relatively small Fios service area, fiber service from Verizon Fios is a long-awaited third option.

But fiber is more than just a buzzword — it’s first major upgrade for home Internet plans since broadband replaced dial-up in the late 90s. The speed upgrade is just as dramatic, offering “gigabit” service more than 10x faster than traditional cable and DSL.

Pros

  • Industry-leading Gigabit speeds
  • Blazing fast upload speeds
  • 4K TV Channels

Cons

  • Limited availability
  • Contract pricing

Verizon Fios Plans

DealsPrice MonthlyInternet SpeedPhone
Fios 50/50 $3999 50 Mbps Fiber(855) 435-4574
Triple Play $7999 150 Mbps Fiber(855) 435-4574
Runner Up Fios Deal Best Fios Deal For Non Gigabit Service Area $4999 50 Mbps Fiber(855) 435-4574
Fios 150/150 $7499 150 Mbps Fiber(855) 435-4574
Fios Gigabit Connection $7999 940 Mbps Fiber(855) 435-4574
Best Fios Offer Fios Gigabit Triple Play $7999 940 Mbps Fiber(855) 435-4574
940 Mbps + Custom TV $7499 940 Mbps Fiber(855) 435-4574
100/100 MBPS Internet $6499 100 Mbps Fiber(855) 435-4574

If you looking to compare plans, make sure to check out our detailed guide on the latest Verizon Fios deals and promotions.

What make Fios special?

Fios is famous for providing an end-to-end optical fiber network. Fiber cables are the gold standard for transporting digital data, far superior to “analog” options like coaxial cable (think TV) and DSL (think landline phones).

Most of the Internet is made up of fiber networks — but the “last mile” between the mainstream Internet and your house has traditionally been bridged with existing cables installed for TV and phone service.

Why? Honestly, because it’s cheap, and most Internet providers don’t want to invest billions of dollars to upgrade something that already works.

Verizon Fios took that risk, and it’s been paying off for them. They’re consistently rated one of the best-liked providers in the country, and competing cable providers are struggling to earn customers in areas where they overlap.

How is Fios Faster?

A highway as a metaphor for bandwidth.
“Bandwidth” is often described as the number of lanes on the highway, while “speed” is the speed of vehicles on the highway. Fios fiber has many more “lanes” than traditional cable or DSL service.

If the Internet is an “information superhighway,” bandwidth can be thought of as lanes on that highway. The more lanes you have, the more efficient it is for traffic to spread out and move as quickly as possible.

In this analogy, Fios is an Interstate network. Cable is a local highway route, and DSL is a winding country road.

…What about dial-up? Probably a hiking trail.

In addition to having more space for individual “data lanes” in fiber networks, the speed limit is also much higher, since information is transmitted as light rather than radio frequency transmission. The speed of light is famously speedy, resulting in much less latency for 100% fiber networks.

The other major Fios advantage is that the lines carrying Internet data aren’t sharing bandwidth with traditional phone or TV, which can lead to signal loss and slower-than-advertised speeds on cable and DSL networks.

Verizon Fios Availability

Verizon Fios Coverage & Availability Map

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COVERAGE CENSUS TRACTS

Verizon Fios’ drawback is that it’s only available in a few densely populated areas, since the high cost of installation makes it difficult for Verizon to serve rural customers.

Verizon also sold some of their network to Frontier Communications in 2016, although Frontier seems committed to continue expanding FTTH (Fiber to the Home) network development in those areas.

Verizon Fios speed data

Download Speeds Over Time


CityVerizon Fios Average SpeedVerizon Fios Top 10% Speeds
Arlington, Virginia64 Mbps98 Mbps
Bronx, New York58 Mbps111 Mbps
Brooklyn, New York70 Mbps146 Mbps
Buffalo, New York33 Mbps69 Mbps
Flushing, New York52 Mbps99 Mbps
Jamaica, New York72 Mbps148 Mbps
Jersey City, New Jersey62 Mbps134 Mbps
New York, New York79 Mbps149 Mbps
Newark, New Jersey68 Mbps148 Mbps
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania62 Mbps108 Mbps
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania57 Mbps98 Mbps
Providence, Rhode Island54 Mbps98 Mbps
Richmond, Virginia60 Mbps96 Mbps
Silver Spring, Maryland57 Mbps98 Mbps
Staten Island, New York59 Mbps125 Mbps
Trenton, New Jersey55 Mbps96 Mbps
Virginia Beach, Virginia56 Mbps111 Mbps
Washington, District of Columbia84 Mbps149 Mbps
Woodbridge, Virginia63 Mbps100 Mbps
Yonkers, New York58 Mbps100 Mbps

Fios Factors to Consider

Installation

Fios installation usually takes much longer than a standard cable or DSL install. Budget 4–6 hours for the technician to be in your home.

The reason it takes longer is because fiber Internet has advanced hardware requirements. Rather than simply configuring a new modem/router on your existing cable or phone jack, the Fios technician will have to install a completely new system, including an ONT (Optical Network Terminal), new in-house cabling, and configure all your set-top boxes for TV service.

The process usually looks like this:

Verizon Fios Installation Steps

  1. Install ONT (Optical Network Terminal) box
  2. Connect cables to coaxial splitter to segregate TV/Internet traffic
  3. Re-wire home if existing coaxial cable is insufficient for your needs
  4. Install and configure set-top boxes and Internet router

Bundles

Verizon is trying very hard to win over cable and DSL customers, and they’re doing it through aggressive pricing on Fios bundles.

Some of these bundle deals are great opportunities for customers who plan on using their TV and/or phone service regularly. Just be sure to check the promotional price against the final monthly price, especially if signing a two-year contract.

Fios Hardware: What About My Router?

When you sign up, Fios will probably make it seem like using your own router isn’t an option. In fact, they only offer one: the Fios Quantum Gateway. (Which is replacing the older Actiontec Gateway.)

…And to be honest, using Verizon-branded equipment is a good idea for most customers (especially on the faster “gigabit” plans).

That said, using your own router is absolutely an option if you’re willing to put in the extra elbow grease to set it up. This will save you the monthly rental fee, and open up advanced home networking possibilities for Internet power users.

First, understand that Verizon Fios uses a slightly different hardware setup than cable and DSL:

Traditional cable/DSL setup: The modem/router gateway plugs into your existing cable/phone jack.

Verizon Fios setup: The modem/router gateway plugs into an ONT (Optical Network Terminal) box outside your home or apartment via a coaxial cable.

You have three options for hooking up your own router to the Fios ONT system:

Option 1: Use Verizon router as a bridge to your own router

This doesn’t save you the up-front cost of the Verizon router, but it’s the best option if you simply want to expand your home network and unlock advanced router features.

Simply attach your new router to the LAN port of the Verizon gateway and follow the new router’s setup wizard to establish an Internet connection and disable Wi-Fi on the old router.


Option 2: Connect your router directly to ONT with Ethernet

Fios will push for coaxial cable in-home when they install the ONT box because it’s a good choice the TV services they offer alongside Internet. If you have an Internet-only plan under 100Mbps up/down, you can simply use the ONT’s Ethernet jack and use it as the “modem” for your router.

First, find an Ethernet wire long enough to connect the router in your house to the ONT box. Then call Verizon customer care and ask for a DHCP release/renew. They’ll walk you through it over the phone, and once it’s been switched you should be able to set up your router as normal.


Option 3: Advanced Sorcery

If you want to maintain your set-top box functionality and other Fios TV features intact, or expand your home network radically on a gigabit plan, setting up a custom network becomes more complex than we can cover here.

Methods change depending on the hardware that’s current and service offerings in your area. Until we publish our guide to advanced home networking with Verizon Fios, customer reports on hacks and workarounds can be found through searching online forums.

Conclusion: Verizon Fios is the Top-Shelf Option for Internet and TV

A highway as a metaphor for bandwidth.
Fios is a must-have for anyone who identifies as a techie.

If your primary concern as an Internet user is cost, Verizon Fios might not be the best place to look.

If your top priority is quality of service, however, then you should absolutely try it out.

The speeds can’t be beat, and the future-proof fiber network is sure to meet your needs for years to come as your bandwidth needs grow along with consumer technology.

Verizon Fios at a Glance

StatisticVerizon Fios
Price Range$39.99 - $79.99/mo+
Connection Type(s) Fiber
Customer Recommendation Rating on BroadbandNow.com62.0%
ACSI Customer Service Rating73/100
Netflix Ranking5th
Population Served33,019,051

Experts

Jessica Sims

Jessica Sims

Jessica Sims is a technology blogger and broadband industry veteran. Her background as an administrator and customer support employee for a major ISP informs her passion for helping consumers understand their service options.

Jameson Zimmer

Jameson Zimmer

Jameson Zimmer is a technology and telecom expert hailing from Charlottesville, Virginia. His work with data-driven companies like BroadbandNow has helped bring attention to consumer issues like municipal broadband.

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