Verizon's Fios Service Moves U.S. Internet Beyond a Snail's Pace


High-speed Internet connections have finally gone mainstream in the U.S. But there's a problem: What passes for high speed in this country is pathetically slow compared with Internet service in some other countries.

For instance, Verizon's entry-level DSL service, at 768 kilobits per second for downloads and 128 kilobits per second for uploads, is considered high-speed here. But in Japan and Korea, families can buy moderately priced Internet service measured in the tens of megabits per second. They get a race car, while Americans are stuck with a bicycle.

A megabit per second (mbps) connection moves about 1,000 times as much data every second as a kilobit per second (kbps) connection. A service running at 10 megabits per second is more than 13 times as fast as Verizon's base DSL service. All such services have two modes: downstream, for downloading Web pages, email and files; and upstream, for uploading email or files. Generally, Internet providers offer much faster downstream speeds than upstream speeds.

Even the faster common U.S. broadband offerings, like Comcast's $42.95 a month basic cable-modem service, which delivers 6 mbps downstream and 384 kbps upstream, are ridiculously slow compared with the Asian offerings.

But now, Verizon is offering Americans in certain parts of the country a new, much faster Internet service for only a little more than Comcast charges for its basic service. This new product, called Fios, offers 15 mbps downstream and 2 mbps upstream for $50 a month, or $45 a month if you use Verizon for your telephone service.

There are also two other Fios plans: 5 mbps downstream and 2 mbps upstream for $40 a month; and 30 mbps downstream and 5 mbps upstream for $200 a month. Both also are discounted if you also use Verizon phone service.

I had Fios installed in my house in July, and I've been comparing it with Comcast's basic cable-modem service. I have been pleased with Fios's speed and reliability, which are true to Verizon's claims. On some tasks, it is markedly faster than Comcast. And on my laptops connected via a Wi-Fi wireless network, which tends to degrade Internet speeds, the speed increase has been especially noticeable.

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Monty Solomon
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