Verizon FiOS To Pump Up The Upstream

Applying some additional competitive pressure on cable-delivered broadband services, Verizon Communications has unveiled an upgrade initiative for FiOS that will enable customers to receive upload speeds that match their download speeds at no added cost.

Under the upgrade program, which will standardize on symmetrical broadband speeds, here’s now the new FiOS Internet tiers will compare:

-Existing customers on the 15 Mbps down by 5 Mbps tier will be upgraded to 15/15; new FiOS service bundles will start at 25/25 going forward;

-50/25 tier will be upgraded to 50/50;

-75/35 tier will be upgraded to 75/75;

-150/65 tier will be upgraded to 150/150;

-300/65 tier will be upgraded to 300/300; and

-500/100 tier will be upgraded to 500/500.

Verizon said it will begin to offer the upgrades and new speeds on Monday (July 21) for both existing and new Verizon FiOS residential customers. The Wall Street Journal first reported about the coming Verizon speed upgrades on Sunday night.

Although downstream usage currently outpaces that in the upstream, Verizon cited projections that it expects upload activity on its fiber-based FiOS network to double by late 2016, and that more symmetry of the upstream and downstream will be required thanks to apps such as video chatting, file sharing via social networks, the increased use of big file transfers and cloud-based file backup systems, and to satisfy the data requirements of so-called “Internet of Things.” Verizon also cited a study from IDC that more than 20% of U.S. broadband homes are “Power  Users” that upload nearly as much content as they download.

“Faster upload speeds means better sharing experiences,” said Mike Ritter, Verizon’s chief marketing officer for consumer and mass business, in a statement. “All Internet sharing – whether videos, large photo files or gaming – starts with uploading. FiOS all-fiber-optic technology offers a unique opportunity to enhance our customers’ Internet experience on a mass scale by increasing our upload speeds to equal to our industry-leading download speeds. As the Internet of Things becomes a reality, equal download and upload speeds will become essential.”

Verizon said the faster upstream speeds will be rolled out through the fall, and that more than 95% of existing FiOS customers are in position to get the upgrade automatically.

Verizon will certainly use the speed upgrades to put pressure on cable competitors that have historically taken an asymmetrical path whereby max downstream speeds are paired with smaller maximum upload speeds. The latest line of DOCSIS 3.0 modems, for example, can bond up to 24 downstream channels – enough to produce bursts near 1 Gbps – alongside the ability to bond up to 8 upstream channels. The next-gen DOCSIS 3.1 platform will be capable of delivering multi-gigabit speeds, targeting as much as 10 Gbps down and at least 1 Gbps up.

Verizon’s decision might also cause Comcast to explore faster upstream capabilities for a fiber-only residential service that currently tops out at 505 Mbps down and 100 Mbps up, and is being offered limited areas, including Chicago and its systems in the Northeast.

Verizon will also look for the new speeds to help it gain and retain subs in a category that has seen some recent growing pains. The telco added 98,000 FiOS Internet subs in the first quarter, down from the 188,000 it added in the year-ago period, giving it 6.2 million subs in the category.

Verizon also announced a new promotion for new triple-play customers through September 30 that pairs its 25/25 Internet service with free  Quantum TV-Enhanced service (not counting equipment rental fees) for 24 months. The offer includes a two-year price lock of $89.99 per month when ordered online, and $99.99 per month otherwise.

Introduced in April, Quantum TV-Enhanced features an Arris-made Verizon Media Server with six tuners and 1 terabyte of DVR storage. Verizon’s Quantum TV-Premium service lets customers link together two VMS devices – allowing customers to record up to 12 shows at the same time.