A Decade With FiOS
Community Leader
Community Leader

Not a post to complain or even ask a question. I just realized I have had FiOS for over a decade, now. I ordered FiOS on December 23rd 2005, and it was installed on January 12th, 2006. I thought I would document the journey.

In the Beginning

Originally, only FiOS Internet service was offered. (That is, there was no FiOS TV offered here, yet, and they didn't touch the copper telephone wires at the time.) I got the business version of FiOS because I wanted a static IP so I could host my own domain (with a web server, mail server, etc.). I also occasionally needed to put up temporary servers for the work I was doing at the time. That service was 15 Mbps down by 2 Mbps up. That beat the heck out of the 1.5 Mbps down and 768 Kbps Verizon DSL service I had before that.

Here's the original Tellabs 6100-610 ONT installed in 2005.

imageTellabs ONT 6100-610

Fun fact:  It was the middle of winter and the ground was frozen when Verizon ran the fiber line. Since the cables are buried by hand, they ran a line all the way from the neighborhood main distribution box (which is above ground) to my house through the schoolyard behind my house. The installer said someone would be back to run it to the box in my yard (a much shorter run) and also bury it in the ground when it got warmer. Spring came. Nobody came to bury the cable in the yard. The school cut their grass .. and my FiOS cable. I called and Verizon ran a new line the next day, but again from the main distribution box in a neighbor's yard through the school yard and all the way to my house. Of course, the people who run the line aren't the same people that bury the line. A week or two passes. The school cuts their grass again and my cable again. I call again and they run yet a third line. This time, they ran it from the box in my yard to my ONT. Now, only I had to be careful. A contractor was out the same week to bury it. They can be taught.

On to Brighter Things

A few years after I had business FiOS installed, Verizon started offering TV service. They were also switching from copper-based telephone service to fiber whenever they could. I decided to switch from DirecTV to FiOS TV. DirecTV had a nasty habit of going out during heavy rain or moderate snowing, which was just the sort of day one really wanted to just stay in and watch TV. Because of some regulatory issue at the time about mixing business and residential service, Verizon said they couldn't just use the existing ONT for FiOS TV. So, they buried a second fiber to my house (and they really did bury it right away this time) and ran the TV through that. In addition, they ran a second Ethernet cable that went straight to a Motorola NIM-100 MoCA adapter. That was for the programming that the Verizon Set-Top Boxes and DVRs needed. (Neither the Tellabs 610 or 611 support MoCA on their video out.) That line would not be usable for anything else. They also cut my copper cable, ripped a portion of the copper out of the ground, and switched my phone over to fiber. I was never going back to copper. (For some reason, they installed my residential phone in the business ONT. I think that might have been a mistake.) Now, I had two ONTs outside my house and two BBS systems inside my house. One change was that the new fiber line was run inside a nice orange conduit. The original line they buried was just the fiber line itself. Verizon probably had too many of the unprotected fiber lines getting cut.

Here's the Tellabs 6100-611 ONT (cover open) installed next to the 610, which had only TV service running through it.

imageTellabs ONT 6100-611

Here's the pair snuggled next to each other.

imageTwo Network Heads are Better Than One

And here's what the closet in the basement office inside my house looked like:

imageDualing Battery Backup Systems

Long Horror Story [Begin]

It turns out, having a pair of ONTs was fortuitous. A year or two later, I noticed Verizon was offering 20/5 service for the same price as my 15/2 service. I called to asked if I could get bumped up. I have to digress and mention that every time I called Verizon, they could never find my Internet account. That was because my land-line phone number was associated with my residential TV and phone service. I'd have to explain that my Internet was a separate business account at my house and not associated with any phone number, give them the account number and we'd be on our way. I quickly learned to say that as soon as they asked for the number associated with the account. Back to the upgrade.

The customer service representative told me that I could definitely get the faster speed at no extra cost. They could do it from the office with no tech service call necessary. (I knew that.) He messed around for a long, long time, but finally told me I was all set and should get the faster speed sometime overnight. I didn't. A few days later, I still didn't see any increase. Then I went on a family vacation. A few days into the vacation, I couldn't get email any more. I figured we had had a power outage back home that was long enough that the UPS signaled the server to shut down. (I didn't have it set to start back up when the power came back on.)

When I got back home from vacation, indeed all the clocks were blinking and the server was off. I turned on the server, and found I had no Internet service. Thinking maybe my Linux box was toast, I plugged a laptop directly into the Ethernet line from the ONT and set it to use my static IP address. I still got nothing. At some point in there, I realized I had no land-line phone service either. I called the business support line on my cell phone (this was back when cell phone minutes cost real money during the day), and after a couple checks by the first (and second?) tier customer service reps, I got switched to a network engineer. I told him that this all started when I had asked for the speed increase. He didn't think that should matter because that was just a simple configuration change.

He found my ONT, found it was online, but found it had no Internet traffic going to it. Great. He agreed with what I already knew. What he found to be even odder was that he checked in the central office and my line from there was active and going somewhere. It was at this point, I thought to mention that I had two ONTs - one for residential TV and one for business Internet. There was sort of an, "Oh yeah. I remember when we did that. We don't do that any more." moment. Then he had an epiphany. He did some more checking and asked me if I could switch my laptop to the Ethernet cable going to the MoCA - the one that was just for the STBs (and had no open Internet service). As this was all in my closet inside, it was easy to switch, but there was still no joy. Then he asked if I could switch from using the static IP address to DHCP. Bingo! There was my service. On the wrong ONT and now dynamic IP instead of static.

The network engineer conferenced in an account representative. She was for business accounts, so she conferenced in a residential account representative. They tried to figure out what the the account representative I had originally talked to had done. It turned out that that account representative was a residential representative and should not have been able to make any changes to my business Internet. But he did. Sort of. What he did was merge my business and residential accounts (thus making my Internet service dynamic since residential Internet doesn't offer static IP service), which somehow also switched the service to the residential ONT. The changes were all just waiting for my server to reboot to take effect, which the power outage happily supplied.

The account representatives said that what the original representative did wasn't supposed to be possible and they would have to investigate to find out how he did it. The only way to fix it was to have a "database engineer" go in an manually split out my business and residential account records to recreate my business account. That took about a week. I had dynamic IP service during that time, but no email or web site. After they had it ready, the same network engineer called me to let me know he was ready to switch me back. (Yes, they do call sometimes.) I switched my Linux router to the old ONT and back to a static IP for the incoming network. Unfortunately, it was a new static IP address. The network engineer did the switch .. and then a Very Bad Thing® happened. The original 6100-610 ONT stopped responding. Power cycling didn't bring it back. No matter what the network engineer did, he never got the 610 to respond again. It was bricked.

Luckily, I have a second ONT. He switched my business Internet service to that ONT. (They could do that, now.) I re-cabled my Linux router back to that ONT and was up and running with a static IP address. At least, it was at the new speed. The network engineer's final action was to provision my land line phone to the new ONT. That required me to actually go out to the ONTs and move the phone line from the old (610) one to the new (611) one. My land-line phone was working again, too. I ran an Ethernet cable back from a switch on my LAN to the MoCA adapter, and after a couple new firewall rules, the STBs got their programming again. (They had TV signal the whole time, but with no programming guide.)

Long Horror Story [Ended - Sorry about that]

Since I am now down to a single ONT, I got rid of the original BBS inside. The ONT outside is still there though. The inside is a lot cleaner.

imageNice and Tidy

The 611 ONT, the NIM 100 and the BBS are now about eight years old. (The battery has been replaced three times.) The speed upgraded from 20/5 to 25/25 for the same price. (I didn't even have to call about that one .. thankfully.) Most recently, I switched from business FiOS Internet to residential FiOS Internet (at 50/50 for half the cost), and that went surprisingly smoothly. The business Internet account representative conferenced in a residential account representative to coordinate the switchover. It could not be done instantaneously, but I was only offline for about a day. (It was supposed to be less, but the switch didn't automatically work like it was supposed to, but a call to the residential FiOS account representative got it turned on pretty fast.)

I'm sure I have jinxed it by putting it in writing, but they are still working away.

Re: A Decade With FiOS
Enthusiast - Level 3

we've had fios for 10 years too. i think it was April 2009, right before they offered free dvr for life. DOH ! plenty of ups and downs along the way. the real reason i'm commenting is the installer we had way back when told me about a hundred times not to plug the ont thing into a strip, it had to diectly into a wall outlet. it is my greatest fear in life that the greatest internet outage will be traced back me and plug.