Why You REALLY Don’t Need That Verizon FiOS Upgrade

In February I’ll be transitioning from Cairn University (Systems Administrator) to Calvary Community Church (Pastor). This has numerous implications – one being that I will no longer have a Cairn University cell phone. So, tonight, I decided to look into some of my options.

I already have Verizon (through Cairn) for my cell and also have Verizon FiOS at my home. Why not check if Verizon offers a bundle of wireless and FiOS? Maybe I could save a few bucks!

I used live chat on Verizon’s website to speak with a representative who informed me:

“You can bundle your verizon wireless service with Verizon residential services but for that you need to have double play and your Internet plan should be 50/25 Mbps or above.”

Well, if I have to pay more to get the wireless bundle so I can save money….err…I don’t think that is going to end up saving me money, so I said no thanks. I was then told that my plan was a “very old one” and that I should consider upgrading – because “your speed will increase and you can save a lot of time.” Yes, we’ll be coming back to that statement in a few minutes…but let us finish the story first.

The representative convinced me just to see what the upgrade price was – I agreed. Right now I pay around $60 for 10 Mbps (download) and 2 Mbps (upload). For $80/mo. I could get Verizon Fios Quantum which would give me 50 Mbps (download) 25 Mbps (upload) speeds.

I still wasn’t interested – so the representative tried one last pitch, “Your current plan is very old and no longer offered by Verizon so it is advisable to upgrade your internet plan.” Ohh, my.

Well my non-technical friends, let me explain to you why this is a load of hogwash, why you probably don’t need the service levels you currently have from Verizon, and why you almost certainly shouldn’t be upgrading your service at all!

Why You Don’t Need More Mbps…

Let us say you buy a car. It can go 200 mph, and lets assume that there are no speed limits. You still never get your car past 125 mph, b/c it just becomes unmanageable and you’d end up swerving off the road and dying. Realistically, you usually travel around 80 mph and oftentimes you are only going 35 mph. It is cool to tell your friends, “Hey, my car can go 200 mph” but it really doesn’t affect your day-to-day life…other than the fact that you are much poorer due to increased car payments!

It is similar with internet speeds. There is a cool factor to having really fast internet speeds – but there is very little practical use for them for the average consumer, small, or even medium business.

For example, lets say that you have six people in your household and each of you is simultaneously watching Hulu at the exact same moment (video is one of the heavier bandwidth consumers on the internet). The average bandwidth used by Hulu per person is 700 kbps * 6 = 4200 kbps. Now, mbps is simply 1000 kbps[1], so altogether all six people would be using 4.2 mbps. So what exactly is that other 45 mbps Verizon is offering you doing? That is right NOTHING!

Who Needs This Much Bandwidth?

I’m an IT guy. Compared to most people I consume a LOT of bandwidth. I have five computers scattered throughout the house. I use auto-syncing software to automatically sync my files across multiple computers constantly, I usually have twenty or thirty tabs open in my web browsers, and I frequently add a Hulu or YouTube video on top of that. How much bandwidth am I using? Lets put it this way: I’ll rarely if ever hit the cap on my account.

There are certain, very limited cases in which you might want this much bandwidth, for example:

  • If you are continuously transferring very large files across the internet (e.g. at a business that is web-based and deals with images or videos that they are constantly sending to others).
  • If you have dozens or hundreds of individuals logged onto your network at any given moment.
  • If you are running intense computational software that continuously communicates with remote servers.

Here are instances where you don’t need this much bandwidth:

  • Playing video games (yes, yes, even your new-fangled games).
  • Watching videos.
  • Browsing the internet.
  • Checking your email.
  • Checking Facebook.
  • Doing all of these things at the same time.

My recommendation: Get the lowest speed possible from Verizon for FiOS you can, and don’t ever upgrade your service unless you REALLY need to.

Most likely if you are experiencing speed issues it is for another reason than that you have saturated the bandwidth available to you. For example:

  • Your computer is old and slow (buy a new one).
  • Your child is downloading illegal bittorrents (you can download legal bittorrents, and you can also put a cap on how much data bittorrent will use).
  • Your computer has been infested by viruses which are using your machine to send out spam emails or attack foreign countries’ websites.

If you are wondering if you need to upgrade your internet service, leave me a comment below with your situation and I’ll give you my honest opinion.

This Ain’t the Only Game in Town

While what Verizon is doing is frustrating, they aren’t the only folks in town playing this game with consumers. Most internet service providers do this sort of upselling and overselling. They prey on those who don’t have a deep knowledge of technology – which coincidentally is oftentimes those of us who can least afford extra expenses.

But this is also a common practice in computer sales. I see this very frequently with hard drives. A hard drive’s size determines how many pictures of your kid, how many Celine Dion songs, how many old episodes of MASH, you can store on your hard drive at any one time. So, manufacturers sell you a 500 GB or 1 TB hard drive in your computer. It is unlikely you’ll ever use even half of it!

Not only that, but that big hard drive will make your computer run faster right? Nope. Most likely it will run slower. Why? Because in order to give you that big hard drive at a low price they gave you a slow hard drive. This means your computer begins feeling sluggish much sooner and you end up buying a replacement or getting unnecessary upgrades – all b/c the hard drive you bought is too big for your needs and runs slower than your needs.

Concluding Thoughts

Businesses should make their money from offering a product that has worth to the consumer. Businesses should seek to serve the consumer, not exploit them. Currently, many businesses in the U.S. and around the world exploit their customers – and yes, Verizon, I’m pointing my finger at you!

  1. [1]Okay geeks, I know, I’m simplifying.

10 Replies to “Why You REALLY Don’t Need That Verizon FiOS Upgrade”

  1. Some really messed up things going on with this company, am glad people are able to get some light shed on the subject by you! Keep up the good work!

  2. I love the helpful comments you give us here on bandwidth. However, I think I would have to disagree with your view on static memory. Hardrives are super cheap ( right now newegg.com has a 2TB hardrive on sale for $110, spinning at a respectable 7200 rpm) and the more advanced our machines become, the more cumbersome the software becomes. I am running a Windows Vista machine with a 500GB hard drive, and I am out of room. This is because I choose to keep a video game library on my computer, which eats up space. There are ways that I can store application non-locally, thus saving space, but for the average user that’s more effort than its worth. Further, we can expect programming to get even heavier in the future, so to have any reasonable expectation that you will not have to upgrade in a year, you want to overpurchase hard drive space. Eventually you will use it, and need to expand. Or you won’t, in which case you will have to do nothing until the component burns out. Yes, I suppose one could buy an excessive amount of hard drive space. Most likely, however, I think the average consumer is likely to underestimate the amount of storage they will need in the next two years.

    All that being said, I live by a truism with regard to computers: hardware is cheap, software is expensive. So if I can purchase a customizeable bundle package (like shopping at Dell) it is best to stay minimal on the hardware (and expect to upgrade components later) and splurge on the software (since Dell can broker WAY better pricing than I could ever get for most software). In a functional sense, I think we might shop at Dell similarly. But in aftermarkets, I would spend for a wide margin on hard drive space.

    And big congrats on your Call!

    1. Alex,
      Good to hear from you! Thanks for the feedback. I agree that some folks may need these larger hard drives – but I think the average consumer does not. Most consumers are looking to browse the internet, send email, view videos, and play casual games – this requires a much smaller hard drive. But this situation has also resolved itself to some extent recently…It used to be that many Dell computers came with 500 GB or so 5400 RPM drives. This is what I was mainly thinking of! Giving someone a 5400 RPM hard drive is sure to reduce the usable life of the machine! Once you hit 7200 RPM you are pretty solid, though I imagine the eventual way to go will be a smaller SSD with a large (500 GB or 1 TB) 7200 RPM drive.
      Dave

  3. Hi David,
    I have a question. I would love to get sky angel, but whenever I do the speed test I get poor results (they grade it F+). Today I got 2.79 mbps download and 0.26 upload on my laptop. I tried my desk top (really new) and got 2.70 and 0.27. So what does that mean?

    1. The amount of bandwidth available to you at any given moment and its quality varies from second to second. If you run the speed test multiple times on any given computer you will almost always get slightly different results – this is normal variation.

      While 2-3 mbps is on the low side for running a video service like Sky Angel, it should be adequate. It is likely that your problem is not the amount of bandwidth available but other factors.

      For example, there is the issue of latency. Bandwidth tells you how much data you can push down the pipe at a single moment (e.g. whether the highway is two lanes or four), but latency is how long it takes that data to get from one of the end pipe to the other (e.g. from NYC to Los Angeles). If the ISP you use has a poorly architected, outdated network, you’ll experience more latency. You’ll also experience increased latency if the backhaul from your house to the ISP is significant and then if the backhaul from the ISP to the main trunks are significant.

      In addition, you may be experiencing issues due to data loss. For example, DSL runs over regular copper phone lines. Copper phone lines are very subject to the elements and may add a lot of “noise” to the connection. This causes data that is being transferred over the lines to get corrupted and so it has to be resent (sometimes multiple times) before it is actually received correctly on the other end…This slows things down significantly.

  4. You wrote that you are an “IT guy”, yet you do not appear to know the difference between a MB (Megabyte) and a Mb (Megabit). Internet speeds are advertised in Megabits. There are 8 Megabits in each Megabyte. So that being said, an advertised speed of 45 Megabits = 5.625 Megabytes. So say you purchase from an ISP advertising 10Mb download speed, you’ll probably be getting around 1.2MB/s on downloads with that.

    Just trying to clear up some confusion,

    WalkinDude

    1. WalkinDude,
      Thanks for the clarification. I do understand the difference between MB and Mbps, I didn’t think it was necessary to bring it into the article, which is primarily addressed at non-technical users.
      Dave

  5. We currently have DSL and if more than 1 wireless device is on then neither one works. The only way we can do any wireless device is if only 1 is going. It doesn’t matter if it is an iPad, iPhone, Wii or laptop. So it can’t be the devices have viruses. It also doesn’t matter if all the other computers in the house are on or off.

    I would think this has to do with our router but I can’t figure out what is going on.

    ~~Jack

    1. Jack – There are a number of factors that could cause this. As you pointed out, it could be your wireless router. What router do you have? Additionally, it can depend on where you live and the quality of your lines. Analog phone lines (which DSL runs over) are notorious for getting “noise” which disrupts digital signals and can greatly slow down speeds. It may be that you are getting only a very small portion of your “promised” speeds.
      Dave

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