Transitioning from Comcast to FIOS

So we switched ISP & TV providers today, going from Comcast to FIOS. Now a lot of people hate Comcast, but I don’t. Our service has been very reliable over the years. We switched to save money, and for better internet speed.

We had an appointment window of 8 am – noon today. At about 11 we got a call saying the tech was running late and he’d be here by 1. He got here about 1:20. Installation took until just about 5 pm. The tech was friendly and pretty helpful. In fact he was a little too helpful in some ways.

We still have Comcast service active and stuff on our Comcast DVR we wanted to watch. The FIOS tech disconnected the Comcast set-top box and tucked the Comcast cables inside the wall. This makes sense, really, but I wish he’d let me know he was going to do it. When the Comcast set-top box loses power for a length of time it sort of resets. When I hooked it back up, it didn’t have a signal back to the Comcast mothership and so couldn’t re-initialize the DVR features. So we lost all the stuff we had on the DVR (unless I want to remove the wall plate and fish around in there for the Comcast cable and drag it out). That was a bummer.

Anyway I’ll take all the stuff back to Comcast’s offices tomorrow and have them shut down my service immediately, I guess.

On the internet side, the FIOS Actiontec router replaced the Comcast cable modem and my LinkSys router. The technician dutifully transferred all the ethernet cables to the FIOS router, including an uplink to a hub I have. He pulled out all the now-superfluous equipment, leaving things neater than when he arrived.

However, in initializing the router he had to use my computer, and while doing so he installed some Verizon software without telling me what he was doing. I later had to reboot and had a EULA for this software pop-up when my system started. I declined to accept the EULA and removed the Verizon software. So far that doesn’t seem to have hurt anything.

I asked for the admin password for the router. The Tech was willing to give it to me, but we couldn’t get it to work. He called FIOS HQ and even with their help, the ‘correct’ password wouldn’t work. In the end he did a hard reset of the router and we logged in with the default admin password of password1 (in case you have a FIOS router, that’s how you get in… do a hard reset and use admin/password1).

I started asking him about changing the SSID and going from WEP to WPA and he pretty much admitted I was now talking over his head. He left me to “knock myself out” in setting up the router the way I wished, and headed to his next job. Yeah, he was going off to start a new install at 5 pm!

The ActionTec router has a clunky UI. I changed the password, switched the security to WPA, changed the SSID and started adding MAC address filters. Every time I added a new MAC address to the filters, it seemed to turn off security. Happily I noticed this and could turn it back on but had I not, I would’ve left the wireless network totally open.

The FIOS TV Guide/DVR is a horror show. I really hate it. Everything feels like it’s 5 menu options deep. The search kind of sucks and they overload you with information. When I’m looking for a show, I just want to know when it’s on and what channel, I don’t need a link to search on everyone who is a cast member.

But what really puzzles me is that the tv guide seems to be showing me information from last week. So the episodes of Eureka and Haven that are on tomorrow night have the descriptions from the episodes that were on last week over on Comcast! Maybe the guide just needs time to update.

With the Comcast DVR now dead and nothing on the FIOS DVR yet, I fired up the Roku…but it wasn’t getting an internet connection. Hmm. Tried the PS3 and again got an error. Oddly it was getting an IP address but having DNS issues. After some fiddling around I just ran through the network connection wizards on both devices, essentially setting them up like they were new. That seemed to clear up the problem on both of them. But it was weird.

In the end we turned to Hulu Plus on the PS3 for some dinner TV watching. The first attempt, the Hulu+ feed started jerky and then just slowed down until we were getting an update about every 5 seconds. I exited the application, re-entered it and had better luck. I never saw this problem with Comcast, FWIW.

After dinner I decided to fire up OnLive to see how well that worked with my supposed 25/25 FIOS internet service. OnLive ended up giving me a warning that my network connection was dropping frequently and my experience might be sub-par. I went ahead anyway, started playing. Gameplay was jerkier and laggier than I’ve ever seen it while using Comcast, and eventually OnLive just gave up. It told me my internet connection wasn’t good enough to support OnLive and dumped to desktop.

I rebooted my PC (which was when I saw that EULA and subsequently removed the Verizon software) and tried OnLive again. It was better, but still didn’t feel as solid as it did on Comcast.

That’s how far I’ve gotten. Compared to Comcast, FIOS has an uglier user guide and less reliable internet, at least so far. InternetFrog says I’m getting 22 Mbps down and 8 Mbps up as I type this at 10 pm. So sheer download bandwidth seems fine but it seems like packets are dropping somewhere when using Hulu+ and OnLive. And 8 Mbps up? When I’m paying for 25? That’s pretty bad.

I probably won’t be truly happy with FIOS until I get the first bill and save money over Comcast. Right now it just feels like we’ve undergone a lot of headache for no real benefit. So far, I’m not a fan of FIOS. I’m hoping that changes.