Tag Archives: Television

Addressing Cuts with Verizon

I had Verizon’s FiOS bundle package for a while. This included Internet service, Telephone, and Television service. I had tried to find an appropriate value in having all three services. However, it came to the point where I couldn’t get the value at a price I could afford. So, I had to make some decisions as noted further.

First, let’s look at the last pricing. I had 15/5MBPS, “Prime TV” which was missing some basic channels that influenced my decision greatly, and FiOS phone which included unlimited domestic calling, voice mail, Caller ID, and a few other features one should expect from a digital phone service. The Internet, and Phone was both about $30 each as a bundle. The TV was about $55. A set top box would have been $10, but I had been paying $6 more for a DVR. Taxes were about $15. All together once the discounts would have expired, I will be looking at $140 per month – and this is with the lowest TV package.

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Solving the Communications Problem in the United States

You would think there isn’t one, but in my opinion, there is a very significant problem. Rural areas, and even major cities don’t have real choices for broadband. Cellular Companies are trying to compete to acquire spectrum that has to pass government oversight. Telephone companies are lacking in real standards, and Television services are even worse. Simply put, the Communications system is a complete mess, and this only hurts the people of the country as well as the government. It costs taxpayers, and consumers money, and causes headaches.

So, what would I suggest. Well, I am sure that some people will call me a Socialist for these suggestions, and the big companies that have massive stakes in the infrastructure that they have been failing to keep up will have a problem with my suggestion, but as I said, the consumer and government are the ones to suffer. Nonetheless, here are my suggestions.

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2011-11-11

Today was a pretty productive day. I caught up on a few shows on Hulu, but more importantly – I was able to make it to the grocery store. In turn, I gave the person about $15 in groceries as a way of saying thanks. I finished catching up on a couple of shows on Hulu. I also watched a little television in the evening, but fell asleep on one of the shows. Talisa has been getting a little better on walking, but she is still hyper the first few blocks or when she sees another animal. Again, it is a work in progress. Malak typically only gives problems with a barking dog, or when he wants to go to someone. As for plans for tomorrow, not much planned. I will probably stay home with the exception of walking the dogs.

2011-09-11

Today was a somber day being the 10th anniversary of the terrorist murder of thousands of innocent people. And yes, that is how I see it. Every one calls it an attack which in my opinion refers to a conflict which means one group conducting a war against another group which will be understandable if a vast majority of the people murdered were military. However, nonetheless, I did a lot to avoid television today, as I don’t have confidence in commercial driven media to show proper respect. I did however spent the day finding things productive to do. Talisa got her walks, and I wrote a few blog posts to pass the time. For dinner, I made pasta, and shortly afterwards, made a couple of phone calls.

As for plans for tomorrow, I will consider walking Talisa along the new long route if my ankles are up to it. I will also have to compose a couple of email, and phase out the old house line for the wifi phone completely. I will like if Chris will be able to help me go grocery shopping, but he is never on time for such. Otherwise, I will think of a name in the case I can get the Pit Bull the woman is potentially offering, and get a list made of what I need for the store.

2011-06-27

Today was to be a productive day, however it didn’t turn out as such. I went to go to Downtown, but the pain in the ankles forced me to not to. I instead just went to the East Ohio Street where I picked up a couple of things. Most likely, I will just wait until Friday when I will have to go to run errands anyhow. I took Talisa out for a walk a couple of times, and Chris stopped by a couple of times. However, not much else happened. I watched a little bit of television, however – there was nothing really on worth noting.

As for plans for tomorrow, I am expecting that Chris will take me to the grocery store hopefully to get enough groceries until mid July. I will also have to make a couple of phone calls too, but this will all be done through out the day. I was hoping for Netflix to recognize the discs, so maybe that would come through tomorrow. Otherwise, no real plans for the day.

Verizon Fiber Optic Services

So, I decided to join 1990, and get premium television service along with my Internet. It also became about the same price to have a landline phone which has already helped. So, what exactly do I have, and what are the good and bad? Well that’s what this post is for. First, let’s find what I have. I have a 25/25MBPS Fiber Optic Line. Going to 15/5MBPS would have only saved $5/month. I also have 190 285 channels, although this isn’t as impressive as it sounds. In addition, I have telephone service with unlimited domestic calling, and incoming calls. So, here is what I think of everything.

Internet

The internet service in my opinion is the best value. Of course, you are speaking to someone who is not really big into television, but I will get to that later. I have a 25MBPS internet connection, and this is wonderful. According to the federal government, broadband starts at 5MBPS, and this will seem as if this is the first time in my life, I have actually hit that mark. Currently, not a lot of devices uses it. My PC uses it a lot of course. My home phone uses it for most calls. My cell phone uses it with wifi calling. However, keep in mind that I do not make nor receive many phone calls. I however probably could eat up about 1GB per day which is a big amount. The Internet service is well worth the cost, and may even be able to reduce my cellular phone plan when Andie moves off of my account.

Telephone

Telephone is the least needed service, however the price difference didn’t justify the removing of it. I have unlimited calling to anywhere in the US. I also have Caller ID, Anonymous Call Rejection, Simul-Ring, and Call forwarding. I can also control a few of the services via an Android app (will discuss later). However, the only thing truly impressive is the bundled price. Once all of the long term promotions end, it may not be worth keeping. There are a few reasons why. First, no matter how much I will beg and plea, I don’t see Verizon changing my CID to show my Google Voice number. This means that I will not likely ever use it as my primary line. At best, it would serve as a fail safe line (when SIP services is down). However, if someone calls my Google Voice number from home, or an N11 number – it will use the Verizon line. 611 for some reason will not work, although I know that the old style POTS supported 611. All telephone services run through the Fiber Optic line, even though it still connects with RJ11 jack.

Television

Television felt as if it was the most misleading. Why. At first, they noted that I can have 190 channels. However, this includes 16 local channels, 7 HD channels that are showing the same content as the 16 channels, 5 channels that are split channels (such as what would be 13.1 in OTA), about 15 local access / public / government channels that seem to almost never have anything on it – therefore useless. It also includes 45 audio music channels which I am sure anyone that has Comcast or Satellite will know these stations. There are 42 channels that have 2 stations (one standard definition, and another high definition). Like the local channels, this is counted as 2 channels. There are about 37 channels that are in standard definition only. So in reality, the 190 channels are actually less than 100. Let’s face it, if two stations have the exact same content on it, this should be counted as the same number of stations.

To make matters worse, channels you would expect to be included in the base package with 190 channels aren’t included. One example was the National Geographic channel. I would get Syfy (formally known as SciFi), however I didn’t find many other channels that would be worth the extra cost. This essentially forced me to upgrade which will give me almost “100” extra channels, but we see how Verizon counts these channels.

Hardware

There are two pieces of hardware that is required. The first is the router. It is a wifi-N router which is good. It has a non-functioning USB port which I wished Verizon would have activated it so I could use an external hard drive on it. It does support 4 LAN ports which is good. This means I can plug in computers, NAS, and of course my phone. This router is the center point of the FiOS, and seems to be used even for television service to some degree. If I want to use the TV remote app, it needs to use the FiOS router.

The other device is the cable box. This is the cheapest and most basic box set top box I have ever seen in my life. It has a power button on the front, but no display. At least old boxes would have 2 LED numbers with channels in the mid 80’s. Most will have the time and channel, but not this one. On the back is coaxial for older TVs, Analog, Composite, and HDMI. Since the HDMI port on my PC is out only, I had to pull the old 20” CRT television out. It seem to need to do a channel set, and Line, 2, and 3 were set. Channel 2 (what would be CBS) has no picture. 3 is the box, and Line is for the RCA for the DVD Player which is no good.

I was also given an RG6 cable, and HDMI which was good. The RG6 is for the current television while the HDMI should support new TVs. The installer was also kind enough to install a phone jack close the RG6 cable that comes into the apartment. This meant that I could keep the phone access point close to the router and the phone jack which was important to use it to full potential.

Software

Available on Android, and iOS platforms – Verizon offers a means to control the TV, and some of the phone settings from the cellular device, or PDA. Technically, I don’t even need to use the set top box remote nowadays, although it is still active. I could actually change a channel while in the back yard and have it affect the TV in the front room. The app seems half baked though – although serves as a good remote control. I just expected more such as show searching, or reading show info on the device rather than the relying on the TV.

The phone app is helpful if I forgot to turn call forwarding on or off, or if I wanted to turn on/off Do Not Disturb. It will also show a call log, and use the cellular phone’s contacts to give names. However, for the most part, this app has proven nearly useless to me. Again, I would have expected better. They offer Speed Dial, yet – I can’t seem to program that through this app. On a good note, I am able to see CID display show on the television. This is only good with Verizon phone services.

Price

Price is a big disappointment. The price is fair on paper, but as you may have noticed, I feel robbed on how they counted the channel line up. In addition, you are smacked with additional fees that should be included. Here is the cost for the service I currently have (with 285 channels).

  • $105 for the base service price with some price guarantee
  • $10 for wire maintenance (will fix basic jack issues)
  • $10 for the set top box (which should be included)
  • $15 for taxes and fees.

All of this will be an estimate of about $140 so the representative told me. Keep in mind that after you exclude the music channels, and double channels – you are looking about 125 channels rather than 285 channels. Internet only service is about $75 (including taxes). So in reality, it is a nominal fee extra for the extra services. However, I will be finding little justification for it if it rises dramatically. Because of the higher price, I will not be able to get a DVR any time soon (an extra $10), and I can forget the premium movie packages which will cost an extra $60 for the movies.

Justification of the price will include the removal of Clear Wireless ($30) which was the reason of setting Verizon FiOS to begin with. I am now able to use SIP which cost $60 per year, but will allow me to go to the cheapest voice plan with T-Mobile when Andie leaves my plan (which should happen soon). I also have 911 support, and since I now have television service, I can keep up with news, current events, and have no need to increase my Netflix service. In a matter of fact, if the time comes when my queue is reduced, I could actually go to the streaming only plan, and have something worthwhile. I will be reducing my eMusic subscription which will mean less songs per month, but will provide funds to the Verizon service.

Verdict

I am disappointed in the way they count channels. And with this severe factor where I am getting only half of what I would expect otherwise makes this a less of a value. This is especially true with the current 4:3 television, but in reality it’s not Verizon’s responsibility for giving me a 16:9 television. If there is no reasonable way to get a better TV (which I need any how for Television), I will get one when I can reduce the Fingerhut bill. So, for the price, it is still better than Verizon’s competitor here (Comcast). I seen Comcast’s services, and while Chris and Andie has more TV services, 1MBPS internet, and no POTS for $150 per month (or close to it) means I am getting more value for the money. It would be nice if Verizon did a little more ethical way of counting channels. At least you as the reader will know this ahead of time. It is better than Comcast, so therefore – the best choice if you can get FiOS service.

2011-06-20

Today was a busy day. Chris stopped by twice. I walked Talisa three times. I also had the television and telephone installed. At first, I was concerned with the distance from the POTS line to the router. The reason why is my phone will use both the POTS line, and the RJ45 line. This is to keep the number of required phones to just one system. The RJ11 jack didn’t work, but the technician was kind enough to install a jack for free, and he installed it in a place that was very easy for both of us. Now, the RJ11 jack is within inches of the RG6 cable that plugs into the Internet and television.

The television was a little more unexpected. I was hoping to plug my notebook to my new set top box, but it didn’t work that way. I managed to pull the old 20” CRT television that is not working well, and it would seem that the TV set itself automatically with just channel 3 which is what is needed for the set top box. This was good. However, I was disappointed in how they decided 190 channels. This will included about 100 channels of HD which are the same as the non-HD as well as the music audio channels. This was a disappointment as National Geographic, G4, and a few other channels was not included. It would seem that the upgrade to the next higher package at an extra $20. I ask about reducing the phone or Internet, but the savings was not worth the losses.

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TV the way it should be – Easy

It is apparent that things are not really good enough in the TV industry. Everything seems to be a mix mash mess of channels, acquisitions, and other just strange problems. You can get a station in one place, but not in others – even within the same neighborhood. So what I am going to suggest is to going to required a few things. First, broadband of at least 10MBPS standard. Second no ISP putting stupid caps. And last, TV moving to the Internet for delivery. And while IPTV has been suggested, and may even be offered on a small scale, it is not enough.

Shall we look at the problems? First, OTA transmissions are not always reliable with radio and TV. This is a plain fact, and while you can get TV and confident you have it, how much effort does it take to get that station, and when you live in an apartment, it’s always harder. Second, networks have Station numbers all across the board. In example, NBC is Pittsburgh PA is 11, but channel 4 in NYC. Does that really make sense? And digital TV didn’t help much. Now, you may have 11.1, 11.2, and 11.3 in Pittsburgh which only tells you they are niche stations for Pittsburgh’s NBC, unless you live in another city. So, here is what I would suggest.

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