Verizon speeds up FiOS to 150Mbit/sec

Verizon is adding a new tier of service to its FiOS fiber broadband service, offering 150Mbit/sec downstream and 35Mbit/sec upstream for $194.99 per month.

The carrier has begun to roll out the service to consumers in the 12 U.S. states, plus the District of Columbia, where FiOS is available. Small businesses will be able to get it by the end of the year, Verizon said on Monday. The fastest service offered so far on FiOS has been 50Mbit/sec downstream and 20Mbit/sec upstream.

The service will be available to a majority of households that are eligible for FiOS. It will be available as a stand-alone service at the $194.99-per-month price when purchased with a one-year service agreement and Verizon wireline voice service.

FiOS runs on an all-fiber-optic network that has allowed Verizon to offer higher speeds than AT&T, the other major U.S. telecommunications carrier, which operates in different territories and is building a network where fiber goes only part of the way to most homes. The fastest wired consumer service from AT&T offers 24Mbit/sec downstream and 3Mbit/sec upstream. Earlier this year, Verizon demonstrated an Internet connection of 1G bps both upstream and downstream on the most advanced equipment now in use on the FiOS network, though it has not predicted when that speed might be offered for sale.

However, FiOS is only available to about 12.5 million U.S. households. Verizon earlier this year announced plans to add just 1 million new households to its FiOS footprint. The carrier's goal is to reach 18 million households, though that doesn't mean it won't go beyond that, company spokesman Cliff Lee said.

With the new service, consumers will be able to download a two-hour standard-definition movie in about 90 seconds and upload 20 high-resolution vacation photos in about 20 seconds, according to a video introducing the service that Verizon posted to YouTube on Monday.

Verizon will continue to offer all its other service levels, which have downstream speeds from 15Mbit/sec to 50Mbit/sec. An existing symmetric service offers 35Mbit/sec both upstream and downstream. Existing customers who want the faster service will need a new in-home router, which will be free. In some areas, Verizon will also have to replace a gateway device on the outside of the house, also free of charge, Lee said.

In the third quarter, Verizon added 226,000 FiOS broadband users, reaching a total of 3.9 million. There are 3.3 million users of the related FiOS TV service.

Consumers in some other countries have had home broadband services above 100Mbit/sec for the past few years. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission's National Broadband Plan, released earlier this year, calls for "affordable" 100Mbit/sec broadband for 100 million U.S. households by 2020.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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