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Verizon FiOS TV vs. Time Warner Digital Cable.

November 1st, 2006

I should probably store up all these posts to spatter them about on days I can’t think of anything to write.. but anyways.

I called up Time Warner to cancel my Digital Cable subscription today.  When asked about why I told them that I switched to Verizon Fios, and to the guys credit he didn’t belittle the competition.  He did however try to soft-sell me back into the home court throughout the conversation of settling my last bill.  So I thought I’d post some geekily posts on the winners and losers in this competition.  And to TimeWarner’s credit they don’t seem to be standing still like Comcast (the company they bought) and I relish the idea of real competition in my neighborhood for cable television, it is good for my expenses and good for the consumer at large, regardless of who you get televisoin from.

Expense: Winner – Verizon

This is to be expected, because Verizon is trying to get onto Time Warner’s turf.  But the simple heads up cost, undercuts TimeWarner’s by half.  Something that Time Warner acknowledges, because when I told them I was switching, and part was by cost, the first response was, can we make a deal.  So if you are a TW subscriber, call em up and see what kind of deal they are willing to make.

Signal Quality / Technology: Winner – Verizon

Hands down, no question Verizon has the better picture.  Time Warner is dealing with legacy stuff, and the old Comcast plant is two-cable (A side/B side) stuff that is a mess to work with and install.  Verizon is one strand from the demark to the cable splitter.  Both are going to a full digitial technology that will require a set-top box except for a few channels, so either way expect to pay the rental for a STB regardless of provider.  Both use the same Motorola STB for the DVR, but Verizon’s OS is better, the channel guide is logically arranged, and the DVR settings make it easy to set up recordings and ‘subscribe’ to a series of shows.  The ability to share recordings with other STBs in the house (a premium add-on, but with standard half-price the add-ons are affordable) is also a bonus.  The DVR has a 160GB drive, and can record two HD channels at once.  The TW box I’m returning is a lot smaller and can only handle one HD channel at best.  Also if you start recording a show that you are already watching, the Verizon DVR will add whatever is in the buffer to the recorded show.  TW’s DVR would just dump the buffer and record from the point that the record button  is pressed.
Remotes: Winner -Time Warner

The one thing I can’t do with Verizon is a 30-second advance, and it is largely because the remote they provide isn’t programmable.  The TW remote (the silver one) is programmable, and the TW Motolora (I think it is a Microsoft operating system) had a hook for a 30 second skip, which made flipping through the commercials a snap.  Verizon is limited to a FF and a REW for DVR functions.  A nice semi-feature is that once you stop FFwding it backs up a bit, so you don’t have to worry if you over estimate a bit.  Lack of programming also locks you into whatever the remote code for your other devices are, and you can’t add another button (for me it is my TVs aspect button) to the remote, so I have to keep my legacy remote around.

Hands down, at the moment, Verizon wins.  The only niggling detail is the 30-sec skip, which isn’t even provided stock by TW, and takes some digging and remote control programming to enable.  So TW has some catching up to do in my neighborhood.

Don’t shed too many tears, Verizon’s FIOS footprint is really really small when you compare it to TimeWarner’s footprint.  So a little competition in this neck of the woods, could bring other capabilities to other TW neighborhoods that don’t have Verizon breathing down their neck.
I have to eat a bit of crow to be in Verizon’s camp, since their DSL in my neighborhoor was so horrilbe, and I dumped their POTS service too, and went to AT&T Digital Phone.  I’m now a happy Vonage phone user, so don’t pay for POTS, and Verizon handles my internet and TV wonderfully over fiber.  So this whole competition and market forces work in the telcom industry.

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  1. November 1st, 2006 at 18:26 | #1

    We absolutely hated Comcast both times we’ve had them for cable in the past several years – and finally stuck with Dish Network this last time. Has your email address been upgraded yet? Go tx.rr.com!

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