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My FiOS Install

October 11th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments
This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series FiOS Upgrade

A few weeks ago I wrote that I was finally sick and tired of the technical problems I was having with my local cable company, Charter Cable. In fact, I called Verizon and switched to FiOS because I had a problem with a few missing channels on Charter, which was a common (once a month) problem. Soon after I called, that turned into no channels above #99. Then a few days later it resolved itself and I was getting my channels again. Until my scheduled FiOS install day, when all the channels above #99 went black again. Figures.

Install and First Impressions

For what it’s worth, the technician who came to do the install really knew his stuff. He answered every question (with what seemed to be the correct answer) ans was incredibly efficient during the install. He knew exactly how everything went together and wasted no time. And it was pouring rain. I mean raining like you wouldn’t believe. And he pulled the new cable through that mess super quickly. People complain about Verizon customer service, but I was impressed. He arrived right on time, called ahead of time, and knew what he was doing. Can’t ask for more than that.

Anyway, the installation steps were:

ONT and Distribution Box

My New ONT & Phone + Cable Distribution Box

  1. Remove old Verizon NID.
  2. Connect new fiber cable at pole on street.
  3. Using old copper cable, pull new fiber to house and install hanger hardware. Route cable into basement via old NID passthrough.
  4. Install the ONT (Optical Network Terminal) in the basement.
  5. Route Cat-3 cable to the phone panel in the house and bring up the phone.
  6. Route coax cable to the location of the network router (about 4 feet away in my case) and bring up the data connection.
  7. Connect the home’s cable TV lines.
  8. Install any Cable Cards needed (one multi-stream card in my TiVO).
  9. Using a local computer on the network and software on a USB stick the tech had, verify connectivity and enable the cable boxes and cable cards.

In my case, everything worked flawlessly and the tech had the job complete in five hours. And so far, two weeks latr, everything works as promised. In fact here’s a speedtest from Speedtest.net. This is a pretty typical result:

My Speedtest

My Speedtest

And the telephone and television work flawlessly too. Please note though that I have a TiVO with a CableCard for my primary set (which is only a 35″ 720P resolution TV anyway), so I have no experience with the Verizon box or tuner. That also means that I miss out on all the supposedly cool features like caller ID on the TV screen and the programmable crawl for traffic and weather etc. But the channels I do receive kick ass. And with the Ultimate TV package there is just a ridiculous number of channels. It’s truly obscene.

So far, unlike Charter, every single channel tunes in and there have been no disruptions, even with some foul weather. And I’m pretty sure that the standard definition channels look better than they did with Charter. This may be a misguided perception, but I think they do.

Internet Setup

My Network

My Network

This is where I expected to have trouble. For FiOS you have to use the router they give you, because it enables other functions like control of the set top boxes. And the router they give you is an Actiontec MI424WR. Mine is a Rev. C. Not exactly the most popular device in the world. And earlier versions had some issues, most of which are documented in the Verizon FiOS forum on Broadband Reports.com.

Unsecured Network

Unsecured Network

It took some digging through the menus, but I was ultimately able to get the Actiontec set up in a way that matched my network. Verizon has the routers configured with WEP on by default, and the WEP key and default SSID are printed on the Actiontec label. Frankly I applaud this … there are countless people out there who run unsecured wireless networks because the default is no security at all. Usually with the default SSID too. Need proof? One of my neighbors has been running their ‘Netgear’ wireless network for more than a year now. I just captured this screen as proof.

So, with a little digging I was able to set the SSID to match my own wireless network, and change the security to WPA2 instead of WEP (settings are on the ‘Advanced Security Settings’ link on the ‘Wireless Settings’ page). [For a discussion of the differences between WEP, WPA, and WPA2 wireless security protocols, I recommend this article. I run WPA2 with 128 bit AES encryption. I’ll admit that my passphrase isn’t 20 characters long, but it is a pretty unique combination of upper & lowercase letters and numbers. And I have a non dictionary word SSID. So I feel OK.] The WPA2 part was a pain because although the Actiontec can do it, it isn’t an easy setting to find, and then when you do find it and enable it, it looks like you’ve actually turned off all security. That was a bit freaky. Here’s what the wireless status screen shows:

No Security

No Security

Luckily, after a reboot, the main status screen does begin to show the proper security settings:

Updated Wireless Status

Updated Wireless Status

So, in the end, I ended up with a second access point to supplement my current Linksys AP and I am getting much better wireless coverage in the house, even if the Actiontec router is in the basement.

The rest of the network seems to be operating well. I set the DHCP server in the Actiontec to start assigning addresses at 192.168.1.10, leaving me with eight fixed addresses to assign to things that get managed frequently like my Access Point and my print server and my weather station server. I have a pretty good sized network for most home users. At any given time there are nine or ten devices connected and working away. This includes two networked printers, two TiVOs, a Linux server, a one Terabyte storage server, my weather station, and a couple of laptops and cellphones. And also an internet radio (a Logitech Squeezebox) and a Skype phone by Belkin. So far, no issues for the Actiontec or the FiOS connection. If you still need help you can managed IT services by Anova IT, to help you with all your IT services.

Telephone Setup

There’s nothing really to say about this. My phone works. I barely use it. We have a home phone because my wife just can’t bring herself to give it up. Oh well.

Conclusion

So far this has been an awesome switch. Verizon delivered everything on time and the technician knew what he was doing. Everything works. I would highly recommend that people make the switch.

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