Happy Happy FiOS FiOS

Over the last 17 years, my Internet connection has gotten 1500 times faster.

Yesterday, I spent 5.5 hours with two Verizon technicians who installed Verizon FiOS (Fiber Optic Service) to my house. I now have the telephones, cable television, and Internet all running of the same fiber optic network. My download speed clocked in at 14784 Kbps, upload 1549 Kbps.

I remember using a 9600 baud modem in my home for the first time in 1989. I was just like sitting at a VT100 terminal and I was thrilled! This connection is about 1500 times faster than that, and when I VNC from home to work, it’s easy to forget that I’m not sitting in front of my work computer.

Were there problems with the installation? Of course. For starters, I didn’t realize that I was going to be getting a new router installed in my electrical closet. It’s an Actiontec wireless broadband router. And Actiontec uses a differently numbered default subnet than I was using. The IP address ranges 10.0.0.0 – 10.255.255.255, 172.16.0.0 – 172.31.255.255, and 192.168.0.0 – 192.168.255.255 are reserved for private networks, so that computers behind NAT devices and the like can have unique IP addresses without conflicting with any public IP addresses. The Actiontec router uses IP addresses in the 192.168.1.1 – 192.168.1.255 range, and I had been using addresses in the 192.168.123.1 – 192.168.123.255 range. No big deal, but if I had known this in advance, I could have changed all of my devices’ static IP addresses so that the new stuff would just work.

I also didn’t receive any details about the various services that I’d ordered. I expected a welcome package or the like. For example, we now have voice mail (which I recognized from the pulsing dial tone – just like the one I get at work) but I don’t know how to access it. No booklet for the new television service, although we did get channel guides. It would have been nice to know how big the new cable boxes are, about twice the size of the old Comcast cable TV box. It also would have been nice to get documentation about the DNS server addresses, username and password for the new router, etc.

I asked lost of questions – and got lots of answers – during the installation process. But I would have been left in the dark about a lot of the details if I hadn’t asked. I also decided to leave the current copper wires intact in case I decide to switch back to copper (ha ha, not likely).

A cool benefit of the new technology is that, since the four cable boxes are all connected to the network (and get their time data from an NTP time server), we now have accurate clocks in four rooms for the first time. Clocks that we don’t ever have to update.

When I was struggling to get any kind of TCP/IP connectivity in Maine in the early 1990s (I got email by via UUCP dial-up connection to my friends’ company in Massachusetts), I remember fantasizing about how great it would be to get fiber optic service to the home. (I would have settled for dial-up at that time.) But I never actually believed it would happen in my lifetime. Well, it did, and I’m thrilled with the new FiOS service.

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