FiOS upgrade

Why FiOS is so Frustrating

FiOS upgrade

The old Actiontec WiFi router that distributes Verizon FiOS internet service in my house for years has been causing trouble of one sort or another for quite a while. But my laziness about dealing with it was overcome by the network’s inability to work properly with one of my most beloved features — getting SiriusXM music to my Sonos players. (( Technical service at Sonos was extremely helpful in tracking the problem to the FiOS router. ))

You can’t just get rid of the Actiontec router. It has to accept the cable signal from FiOS and supply cable-based connection to the Motorola set boxes (miserable devices for another look some time). It is possible to turn off WiFi services, move ethernet contact for the home network, and install a standard WiFi router behind the Actiontec. But it is a complicated and messy arrangement for your home network. So I decided to take advantage of new FiOS WiFi routers.

You might think Verizon, the operator of the large part of the U.S. internet and the provider of extensive service to both consumers and companies, would let you deal with the product on the web.  You can spend an hour on Verizon/FiOS web pages but never either learn very much about FiOS WiFi equipment replacements or even how to order something. There are other ways to steer your path through the awful site yet never get anywhere. Even after entering your password twice and a second authentication code (oddly, your Zip code asked for on your mobile phone) you can’t make much progress on WiFi.

For example, a web page saying:

fios banner

would take you to a page where you expect to, perhaps, “Order Now”. No, instead it takes you to a page that has a great deal of information about your current account, FiOS TV service, and other services.

One little box takes you to the FiOS Quantum service. Click that and get another little screen telling you can click “See More”. Do so and you get this window:

textwhich tells you a bit about faster FiOS Quantum service, but nothing about the router. I clicked on Live Chat and got set up between the support and account management services without ever learning anything. The only place I found data on the router itself was, of all places, on Amazon, which included the interesting information that the router includes Z-wave service and supports 802.11ac. (Eventually I found this data on a deep-buried Verizon page.)

I could give you information on the other trackless paths I wandered through the Verizon web site in search of information about the Quantum router, but I’ll save you the frustration. Finally I did the only thing that might work and, as I eventually realized, what they wanted me to do all along: call Verizon on the  phone.[pullquote]I could give you information on the other trackless paths I wandered through the Verizon web site in search of information about the Quantum router, but I’ll save you the frustration.[/pullquote]

In truth, calling in was only a partial improvement. It was a horrible connection on what was ostensibly between two Verizon landline phones. But I did eventually find out that, by ordering the Quantum router and an increase in fiber internet service to 50/50 MB ((Yes, I know they could provide me with 100 MB or a gigabit without affecting the fiber cost to them. )), I would get a $20 monthly extravagant charge for Verizon landline-wireless-FiOS TV cable-internet. The router is on its way.

Somehow, a company whose business these days consists of wireless, cable, and fiber communications should do a lot better on the web. Just picking two of the top companies doing business over the internet, Apple and Amazon, can show how to handle the web. Verizon is one of the net operators who claim they ought to be in charge but their site shows very little ability to do so.


Published by

Steve Wildstrom

Steve Wildstrom is veteran technology reporter, writer, and analyst based in the Washington, D.C. area. He created and wrote BusinessWeek’s Technology & You column for 15 years. Since leaving BusinessWeek in the fall of 2009, he has written his own blog, Wildstrom on Tech and has contributed to corporate blogs, including those of Cisco and AMD and also consults for major technology companies.

7 thoughts on “Why FiOS is so Frustrating”

  1. Not sure why you’re having so many problems with the ActionTec router. I had an early model which was causing me problems. I solved it by simply putting the ActionTec router behind a router of my choosing. My home network used my router of choice while the ActionTec, which was plugged into my router only had to handle it’s private cable network. About two years ago I received a new ActionTec router and decided to try using it as the only router. No problems. I also had no problems getting SiriusXM on my SONOS devices (although I did drop SiriusXM later for Apple Radio which I also send through SONOS). Also, in December I upgraded to 50/50 FIOS service without needing to change the router.

    I think your basic point is that Verizon’s ability to provide technical support on the web is sorely lacking. You really do need to handle everything by calling up, even then you don’t know what you’re really getting until they send it to you. On that I would agree with you. But the core technology that they deliver seems to be living up to its promise.

  2. You can indeed limit the ActionTec to being a MOCA bridge – that’s what I’ve done since I’ve had FiOS (going back to in 2009). But it has issues such as their new set top boxes depending on the ActionTec and you need to get an Ethernet connection form the ONT. And rebooting their VMS (set top box server) requires putting the BHR back in service.

    It’s problematic engineering because Verizon is confused. They are still thinking of the BHR (Broadband Home Router) as the 1995 residential gateway (which I mooted with home networking). This is why they don’t have a viable business model. As I wrote in (My April column due out any day) all it takes is moving one jack to switch between Verizon and Comcast and there’s no differentiation.

    1. I finally got the new Quantum router (not sure who actually makes it for Verizon) on line and it is a considerable improvement–better signal through the house and far fewer quirks. But I still don’t have SiriusXM working with my Sonos players. Working with Sonos on it.

  3. It may be frustrating, but at least you have access. Once again, I am dumbfounded how I can live _in the city limits_ of a major US city and Comcast is my only option for high speed internet. Uverse doesn’t even serve my neighbourhood. Frustrates me to no end.


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