Washington DC to get FIOS?

My city peeps might soon have the option of getting Internet + TV through Verizon’s fiber optic service. I recently wrote about my switch to FiOS. Here’s a mini followup.

Things I like – the cost

I Received our first full month’s bill for Fios service, total was $115 dollars for phone, internet, and TV service. This includes a $10 bundle discount, and about $14 dollars in taxes, fees, and other charges not usually disclosed. My last DSL+Phone service bill from Verizon was $98 alone. Coupled with a Dish bill that used to run close to $89, I’ll now be saving $72 per month for the next 2 years.

The savings will pay for my TivoHD (Hardware + Lifetime service) in just over 8.3 months, not taking into account the time-value of money which won’t make a huge difference when we’re talking about less than a year time-frame. For comparison, I could put the $72 monthly savings into an account bearing a paltry 3.5% and at the end of 12 months, I’ll have accrued $880.

Things I don’t like

  1. The Actiontec router – its serviceable enough, but its clearly not meant to be easy to tinker with and it has an annoying way of obfuscating the pasword as you type it in. After being on for just over 2 months, DNS started failing, which was "fixed" by rebooting the router. This is what lead me to switch to OpenDNS below.
  2. Verizon’s habit of routing failed DNS queries to their "helpful" did-you-mean page, which has ads they run. I switched to OpenDNS but they do the same thing.
  3. The on-screen guide on the non-tivo HD STB is a big FAIL. There’s no way to remove channels that you do not receive, the layout is hard to navigate, and the program descriptions are often out of date, or just generic descriptions of the show in question. Tivo’s guide is markedly better and this is the one thing that annoys Staci the most.

The Technology Liberation Front » Archive » FiOS coming soon to DC?

Adding FiOS to the mix will bring the benefits of greater competition to D.C. subscribers. In northern Virginia, a fierce rivalry between Verizon and Comcast has pushed prices downward, even for consumers whose residences have yet to be “lit.”

Viacom channels back on Dish Network

Doc Searls has a good summary about Viacomm and Dish Network settling their recent spat over carrying Viacomm’s bundle of channels. Unfortunately, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Why not? I think it’s because nobody who makes most of their money on advertising wants to see consumers become customers. Viacom, for example, is primarily in the advertising business. The programming they sluice down channels to consumers is just bait. Most of what they sell is best-guess numbers. They can’t begin to think about selling programming directly to viewers or listeners, partly because that’s not their business, but mostly because they don’t want advertisers to know specifics about actual viewing and listening – such as how often people tune away from advertising, or skip over it with their TiVos. Meanwhile the cable and satellite services are mostly in the business of satisfying habits.

But speaking as a consumer who would rather be a customer, a la carte is what I’d like. I think that’s exactly where we’re headed in the long run. And that the inevitability of advertising loss is the deeper issue behind the dispute between EchoStar and Viacom. That loss is will be felt on the supply side, by Viacom.

I think 95% of viewers would welcome being able to choose what channels they get and paying only for them. But the Viacom’s of the World don’t have any incentive to give it to them. Here’s a list of the channels I watch or want:

  1. Local over the air channels (get it via antenna now anyway)
  2. ESPN/ESPN2 (for MLS games although I might get the MLS DirectKick package this season.)
  3. Comedy Central – for the Daily Show.
  4. Fox Sports World, Fox Sports World Espanol
  5. ESPN Deportes
  6. TechTv
  7. And that’s pretty much it…