I could love Verizon FiOS. Alas, Qwest stands between us.

So, Verizon has this internet service called FiOS, yeah? Wikipedia has all sorts of delicious details. It's technically "fiber to the premises" (FTTP). But in my mind, it's known as AWESOME TO THE PREMISES. It's fast, affordable, and makes me cry each night before I go to sleep. The problem? I can't get it here. But if I lived about 10 minutes away, I could. Let me explain.

At the risk of sounding like an infomercial, here's the low down: FiOS' basic "tier 1" service plan offers incredibly solid speed: 5 Mbps down, 2 Mbps up, for $39.95 a month.

Now, first, please understand that I currently "experience" 0.384 Mbps upload speeds here at home on my Comcast connection, and, to get extremely technical, it sucks mega dong-beans. So, in this case, I'm mostly excited by the upstream speed: 2 Mbps up would be glorious. Second, it's worth noting that the entire Panic office currently shares a single 6.0/768 Speakeasy DSL line, and we pay a whole lot more than $39.95. So, already: Tier 1 FTW.

Now, what about Tier 2? Oh my stars and garters.

Tier 2 is 15 Mbps down. And 2 Mbps up. For $49.95 a month. $49.95. 10 times the speed of a T1!

The good news? It's available in my area! The bad news? That means everywhere in my area except my exact area. Portland. You know, the city.

See that graphic up there from The Oregonian? I live right in the middle of that "white circle of sadness". Those other colored areas are where Verizon FiOS taunts me all around, yelling and poking and scraping me with razor-sharp shards of fiber, downloading terabytes of internet magic in seconds and then just dragging it all into the trash just to spite me.

The problem? Essentially, Qwest. SURPRISE!

As The Oregonian's Mike Rogoway recently wrote: Multnomah County is Qwest territory, Verizon is not about to mix it up in Qwest-dominated land, and Qwest is basically broke. So, we have no competition, and no hope for Qwest to offer hot new services. Our local non-cable choice? Qwest or nothin'. I mean, even death row prisoners get to choose a last meal, which, really, is a totally irrelevant comparison.

Why doesn't Verizon go head-to-head with Qwest? As I understand it, when Ma Bell was broken up, the Baby Bells were all granted regional territories. And with the territories, came the networks, all built out and ready to go. Qwest got Multnomah County, but they don't "own" Multnomah County. In other words, there's nothing preventing Verizon from entering Multnomah county, except for the incredible cost and overwhelming difficulty of building an entire network, in a city, from scratch — every last central office, foot of cable, and line of fibre. So, while nothing's stopping them, really, everything is stopping them. Which is a great place to be in, if you're Qwest.

So, Verizon, I implore you, in the optimistic fever of an impossible dream: expand to Portland! Build out your network! I'll help you hook it all up! Damn the cost! Run the wires! And give Qwest a good old fashioned run for their money — which you'll totally win, hands down, in a matter of minutes. I think you'll be surprised by the results.


Look on the bright side, at least you don't have to suffer the Verizonification of your life. I'm jealous of FiOS, too. It's easier for me because I'm not even sandwiched between communities that have it. It's also easier because I had Verizon DSL and though service was fairly reliable, every encounter with the company has been infuriating. It was dog slow, and like all phone companies, they play the "let's not tell existing customers about how much better of a deal they could now be getting." So instead of talking my way into having them double my speed without raising my rate, I decided it was time to switch.

I picked RCN cable. I was on DSL forever mainly because I don't get cable TV, and they always required it as a pre-requisite for the cable internet. No longer, I guess! It feels so good just being out from under the incompetent thumb of Verizon. The fact that I'm paying slightly less for 8x the speed (10Mbps down/2Mbps up) is only the icing on the cake. Wow - the internet really is fast.

I realize this probably doesn't soothe your pain, since you've got that whole lack of competition problem going on. But as long as you're dreaming of rosier days to come, do yourself a favor and wish for better than Verizon.


PS I just tried the craziest thing. I tried to copy/paste the captcha text. Now that would be a friendly site. Kudos for the audio captcha.
Anonymous Daniel Jalkut 6/15/2006 12:52 PM  
You could always move?
Anonymous julian 6/15/2006 1:05 PM  
The thing is that even if you were in Verizon's incumbent region they'd still have to dig up the road all over the city to roll out FiOS - that's the point of FTTP/FTTH - no more copper, gone, removed, replaced with nice internally reflecting optical fiber.

So quite what's holding them back is a little unclear unless they thingthat Portland can't get then the returns of somewhere like Northern VA
Anonymous Xanadu 6/15/2006 1:48 PM  
agh! i'm in multnomah county too -- and i had no idea. that certainly does suck mega dong-beans. i'm paying about $50 for 1.5 DSL (which went to total crap when the summer heat kicked in -- two months of troubleshooting resulted in Qwest removing the bridge tap on the line, and wala, solid dsl again.)
Anonymous nate beaty 6/15/2006 2:11 PM  
Where'd you get the map from? I just searched the Oregonian for "fios" and got nada. I'm wondering what the red parts mean.
Blogger mathowie 6/15/2006 2:59 PM  
The greenish areas represent where FiOS service is currently available: Beaverton, Hillsboro, etc. The suburbs.

The red areas represent planned areas where FiOS should be in a year or so: as far out as Newberg!

The white are represents the crushing of mankind. Obviously I'm still being really melodramatic about this issue.

(Sorry about the bad newspaper scan! Also, Graphic (C) Oregonian!)
Blogger Cabel 6/15/2006 3:06 PM  
It's still a crappy newspaper scan, but I think I've improved upon your info-graphic.

Click for better Map
Anonymous alan 6/15/2006 7:35 PM  
i'm in multnomah county too, over in hollywood. i checked over at comcast just to see how much a speed upgrade was. I was at 4mbit/384k. They apparently have a "deal" going where if you upgrade to their 8mbit/768k service, the first 3 months, the extra speed is free, and after that, $10 a month extra.

its no 15/2mb or nearly as cheap, but it gets one a quick bandwidth fix. i upgraded and it was working at 8mbit by the time i got off the phone.
Anonymous brandon 6/15/2006 8:45 PM 20 down 1 up for 40eur myself :)

Also known as beyond awesome to the home. (but it's ADSL 2+ tech)
Anonymous James / AkaXakA 6/16/2006 12:34 AM  
Gosh, I love my 55 Mb fibre connection here in Japan! :) Though I hear they have 100 Mb in Tokyo now.
Blogger Paul Davidson 6/16/2006 2:16 AM  
sad-cabal :(
Blogger Jake 6/16/2006 10:22 AM  
Death row prisoners also are not in that particular circle of sadness . . . .
Blogger monday-wednesday-friday 6/16/2006 10:56 AM  
Cabel, this example of non-competition within broadband (and the prohibitive infrastructure costs that prevent companies from entering a new market) seems like a perfect demonstration of the lack of competition that makes Network Neutrality so important. Not that Network Neutrality will inspire Verizon to move into your area--but abandoning Network Neutrality will mean that in addition to the current restrictions we face in our choices of broadband plans, we'll be limited in our choices of sites: Google, or YouTube, or Flickr, won't work properly unless you switch broadband providers--i.e., unless you move to another neighborhood or city. There's just no one to switch to.

Maybe it's just because Net Neutrality is on my mind lately, but your situation seems like a great example of how little competition there actually is in the broadband world.
Anonymous Robert Cantoni 6/16/2006 11:18 AM  
Well Cabel think of it this way...

I'm a canadian, and along with all of us canadians, we don't even have an option for fiber optic connection. There are no companies that give us unlimited downloading or uploading. There is a limit on everything. If you want to enhance your limit, you have to spend more money. So the way I look at it is, you americans have it real damn good compared to us.
Anonymous Cubemario 6/16/2006 11:30 AM  
I too know the pain of Qwest firsthand.

USWest, before being absorbed, spent a zillion dollars gradually rolling out Fiber to the (apparently) Curb throughout my city. We had linemen out several times for extensions and a new line, and they had updates each time for us about the status of the fiber. The last guy said they were just about ready to roll out insanely fast broadband using it.

Then Qwest bought them and nothing happened for several years. USWest had promised new COs for ADSL/SDSL; they still haven't materialized to this day. USWest had promised VDSL; we finally qualified for that but it's been sitting at 1.5Mbps for three years now.

Forward progress seems to be the antithesis of Qwest... And there's really nowhere else to turn.
Anonymous Colin 6/17/2006 12:57 AM  
My here in northern va...verizon has an unadvertised price...i get 30 Mb DOWN and 5 Mb UP...and i have fios tv for hd cable tooo...i only pay $55/month for internet + $35/month for tv...aint thatta bithc!
Blogger aar0n2k2 6/17/2006 1:53 AM  
I've been griping about similar things here in Utah. UTOPIA, a government-sponsored per-city fiber network, is rolling out, and I'm in a non-UTOPIA city. Several cities in the SLC area qualify now, and more Utah cities are on the way.

XMission, a Utah ISP, is offering 15 mbps up and down with this FTTP service for $44 per month. I'd call that a bargain. Internet quality will definitely be a deciding factor when selecting a place to live once I move.
Anonymous Anson 6/17/2006 12:52 PM  
i got fiber optics in my hometown. ill tell you what its amazing. my home is in moses lake WA. ever get a chance to live there do it just to feel the power of the nets speed. ever play counterstike source? i get like a ping of 3 in any server. highest i ever saw it get was 5. love it man!
Anonymous Frozan 6/17/2006 2:13 PM  
dude i had 53 kb/s up until recently. T1 and T3 were like mythical connection speeds that all the in kids would talk about on the playground, dreamily wondering at if their college would carry them.
Anonymous Anonymous 6/18/2006 2:39 PM  
What's up with you guys? I have fast DSL for like, what. $30 a month? I don't need T1. A difference between.... loading a page within 3 seconds with DSL, and like a split second with T1? I dont give. As long as I don't have Dial-up. That would suck dong-beans. LOL. Ooh, and by the way, I got a DS Lite and I am soo satisfied. I looove it more than my iPod. :D
Blogger Aerodyna 6/18/2006 5:34 PM  
I feel ya dude. I'm in Southern Washington, just north of Portland and I can't get FiOS either.
Anonymous Anonymous 6/19/2006 10:39 AM  
Multnomah county blows. I also live in Mulno co and my comcrap cable sucks. My favorite is how they like to randomly drop my connection. YAY!
Anonymous Zaich 6/19/2006 11:48 AM  
I understand. I live in New Jersey, and every county BUT Hunterdon can get FiOS.

Blogger Link332 6/20/2006 7:00 AM  
Meh, I have .3 mbps (or whateva) speed, and its alright, atleast i can still play Socom 3, and BF2MC for PS2...

I was suprised when i first booted up PS2 Online that it ran so smoothly, i thought it would lag really bad. Guess not.

Now downloading on the other hand... That takes forever.
Blogger .Smith. 6/26/2006 11:28 PM  
I live in Illinois and I have insight bb broadband it is only $40 for 4mb download.

And the best part is they continually upgrade, for no extra cost.

By the fall everyone is supposed to have speeds up to 6mb download, all for the same price!
Blogger Dan 7/15/2006 4:59 PM  
I am in the little green area part of Washington, CO. They are coming tomorrow to setup the ONT and all the goodies. I will bundle and save $30/mo easily over Comcast. Cheer up! They need my $$ to fund more supplies. Hope they reach your area soon. I do believe the competition will be healthy for the consumers.

Mike (washco)
Anonymous Anonymous 10/24/2006 3:12 PM  
If it makes you feel any better (and it won't), I'm out in the sticks of Gresham, outside the white circle of death/Qwest-land. My home phone and DSL service is already Verizon. But they still don't have FIOS out here. It seems like Qwest must not be the only barrier.
Anonymous browse 10/27/2006 10:44 AM  
I have the exact same problem! I live next to PGE Park, and when I first moved to Portland I was excited about all the wifi and super high speed possibilities.

Yet when I went to the FIOS site, it kept telling me it was only available outside the city. Damn!
Blogger Andy 12/12/2006 10:34 PM  
Thanks for the info. I'm in NW Portland and have been ticked off at Comcrap for two weeks after they put huge advertisements onto the onscreen cable guide. I guess Comcrap and Qwest have got us bent over, and now it's just a question of how many fingers and how deep...
Anonymous Brian 1/29/2007 8:17 PM  
I live in yamhill county out in mcminnville and we don't get fios either and no expected date that I know of for it to be here...

Anonymous TokenBad 6/13/2007 3:21 PM  
To those who are excited about this there are things you need to know about Fios and verizon. If you use any phone service such as Vonage you will receive terrible customer service. When you call them, the first thing they ask you is for your phone number. If you do not have a verizon phone then you will likely get shuffled around from rep to rep and put on endless hold. Also they give you the speed but don’t want you to actually use the bandwidth, they traffic shape and will cut you off if they detect torrent traffic, even if it's legitimate. Over a year ago they mis-billed my account; after they caught the mistake my service was restored. (After hours and hours of getting shuffled around and getting disconnected) Then two weeks ago I woke up to check my email and found the service was off again. After several hours on the phone, I finally get told that the billing error had resurfaced; it would most likely take a month for fraud services to resolve the issue. No apologies for the mistake or the terrible service. I had to sign up for RR just to get service back and my home phone working again.
Blogger Left of Center 10/24/2007 8:02 AM  
I called Verizon FIOS to order phone, internet, and cable prior to my move in. My Consumer Order Summary was dated 3-28-08, and the scheduled installation date was 4-7-08. I reviewed the e-mail and all looked well. I move into my new house and install date comes. They setup an 8 AM-noon window. I already had the Optical Network Terminal unit (ONT) in my house, so I figured this would be cake for them. I am a Sys Admin at an ISP, so the internet stuff I could do myself with ease.

On install day, no one showed, no one called. I had my mobile with me at ALL times. So around 1:30 PM I called Verizon to see what was going on. If something came up, I had a week off to move in and if they needed to come by in a day or two, I was totally cool with that. After about an hour on hold I got in touch with a “state level” dispatcher. That said that there were “no facilities available for my order” and I was called. Nope, I wasn’t called; they did have my cell (which I had with me all of the time) in their records. I wanted them to come out later in the week if possible since I was home. They said that their next available time for me was 4-12-08, which was a day where I was going to a wedding. The next available time after that was at the end of the month, on a work day for me.

Basically because they did not show up, or even notify me with a reason, they put me at the back of the line. I was trying to escalate my request and the support only gave me unreasonable dates and that “no facilities available for my order” BS. I later wanted to get my copper line put back so I could at least get phone service, and after a long wait in hold they gave me the end of the month as a date. Basically I was being run around in circles and being shoved to the end of the line because Verizon screwed up my installation. I was told the only way I could get it sooner is if I “knew an installer who’d do me a favor,” and I was pretty much screwed with the window of time I had to get the service installed. The salesperson fed me a load of bull and the installer didn’t even call me with a reason. I tried to figure out what “no facilities available for my order” meant, and why this was such a problem since I already had the ONT in my house. Half of their work was already done.

The same day, I called a local cable company who installed my phone, internet, and cable the next day. They showed up on time and did the normal pre and post appointment verification. I unplugged the ONT in my house and let the battery go out. Verizon gave me such a lousy customer experience I swore I would never do business with them, and be sure to let other people know about their awful customer service and commitments they setup and do not honor. Verizon screwed up prior when they bought Bell Atlantic, and screwed up our perfectly find DSL service I had around 98/99. My money is going to a competitor, and Verizon won’t see if because they have abysmal customer service. I am certainly interested in fiber optic lines connected to my house, but so long as Verizon is the only provider, I will happily do without.

Herndon, VA
Blogger James 4/28/2008 10:58 AM  
A year later, and I'm back looking at your post again. I moved into the Pearl a year ago and was blown away by how much Qwest wanted for DSL that you could get for 1/2 the price from Verizon. If you go with Comcast they traffic shape up the wazoo, and are chomping at the bit to hand over your private information and internet history to anyone who wants to buy. So do you pay Qwest way too much for a simple service? Do you feed more money into the Comcast hole? I had Qwest for the first year here and then switched over to Comcast for a promo rate. Now the promo period is up and they refuse to extend it. So I guess it's back to Qwest for 120 days until I can sign up for a Comcast promo again. God, the non-competition is so frustrating. Internet in Asia is so much ridiculously faster and cheaper. I'm still looking for alternatives in Mulnomah county...there just aren't any. Maybe I'll just pony up $400/mo for ethernet to the home. See you again in 2009.
Blogger INsano 7/06/2008 1:17 PM  
Now that ten years have passed, everything is hunky-dory, right?
Blogger josh 2/12/2009 4:26 PM  
I'm in that hole with you, just in Clackamas County in felony flats. We can't even get DSL from Qwest. LOL When I first moved here we couldn't even get cable internet. We now have that and thank goodness for the new Docsis 3.0. I still would like to get away from CommieCast. Funny thing is Qwest is so far behind that they just now contacted hubby and I to see if they can put their boxes for DSL in our yard. I guess that means we will have Qwest DSL soon, but who cares now.

BTW, Verizon serves Multnomah county in Gresham and they have FiOS. So not sure its a county issue.
Anonymous Anonymous 2/28/2009 5:19 AM  

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Name:Cabel Maxfield Sasser
Job:Co-Founder, Panic Inc.
Location:Portland, OR