Alistair Maclean's Web Site
Going to FiOS
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Dec 9th 2007

The service has been up for 2 days so far and not outages that I can see. It is very fast, downloads are astounding to watch, when you even notice them occur! (DSLReports.com shows I'm getting about 15Mb/s download and 2.5Mb upload speed). I still need to get a sensible Router, one that I trust is actually designed to handle large throughput, the current Verizon Router is of unknown parentage.

Dec 7th 2007

After another phone call, some remote magic by the Verizon network specialists, and a bit of additional recycling of the power to the router, I have FiOS coming in at full speed. And it's fast!

One of the first things I did was to correct my DNS entries on my Domain name. This change seems to be getting through the system really quite well - some new email arrived within 30 minutes to the new address, and by 10pm I was getting a respectable amount of webserver traffic, too.

Dec 6th 2007

I was off to work this morning, trying to call my wife to remind her that the Verizon guys would be coming to install the new FiOS connection - I failed! No problem though, as when I got home, see was well aware they were coming. I went off to check things out.

They had given me (I'm sure for a small sum, which I have yet to find out about) a new Wireless Firewall Router. It was covered in LED's showing red - probably not a good sign. On the wall were two new beige boxes, a big terminal unit for the fiber from the street, and a smaller UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply - makes sure the phone works, for a short time, if the power goes off.)

I wired the Router to my system, went through a couple of sequences of powering on and off the switches, hubs and new router, all to see if I could get some bits flowing in. All to no avail. I even tried to connect the old router to the new service... still nothing.

One thing I did find though: these Verizon Routers have to be powered off to get the config changes to stick, not just switched off. You need to actually disconnect the power cable. Consider yourself warned!

I resorted to phoning Verizon customer support. They have a sophisticated phone help system, that tried to test and sort my connection, it took about 5 minutes before giving up with the computer generated womans voice wavering slightly - it seemed so at least - and handing the problem on to her human counterparts. The system said that a support person would nnot be available for 9 minutes, so it would phone me back when someone was available. Neat system! It worked too. Got a call back, and a human at the other end. He worked through the setup up with me, and basically indicated I had all my ducks in a row. Easy thing here, if you can't ping the Gateway IP address from the diagnostics in the Router, there is a strong chance the problem is out of your hands! The Customer support person wrote up a ticket and I had to go to bed without a working system.

I was a little miffed about one thing. I have a Covad based DSL service, and it was disconnected at some point during this Fiber install. Where, or by whom, will likely remain a mystery, but it left us without a backup internet connection.

Dec 3rd 2007

Today I called Verizon to order up a FiOS connection to the house. They have been running a nice triple package, where they give you a 19" flatscreen TV. Nice! But... There is always a but. I want a Fixed IP address. Phoning the main FiOS number, I waited for about 10 minutes, as the automated system told me I was number 53 in line, then 48, 32, 28, 21, 15, 10, then a human came on the line. The sales guy was very assured as he took my account details, but came a little unstuck when I asked about that IP address thing. He went off to ask some about it. After about a minute he came back, to tell me that they could not do it and that I would have to go through my local office. He gave me the local office number, too. Nice touch.

The local office didn't have the nice automated count down or in fact any muzak at all, instead there was about 5 minutes of total silence, well as much silence as the current phone line allows. Finally a person answered. I asked about FiOS, and mentioned I have been told to call here because I wanted the fixed IP address.
"Oh, we don't do that!" I was told.
"But you do!"
"Noooo! We don't."
"Yes you do!"
"Hang on"
The voice went away, and another moment of silence followed. Then I was told that it could only be done as a business service, sounding to all the world like that was some how bad. I said a business service was fine. The house has a current business line, so it was going to be no problem to deal with that, from my perspective. The representative said he would put me through, almost as if I was a plague carrier, dispatching me as fast as he could.

The number he patched me through to rang once and was immediately answered by a woman. She sounded local, but lord knows, she could of been in Timbuktu. I told here what I wanted, and she quickly told me what they could offer. A fixed IP service was available, and I could get up to four lines on it too. But it did not have the FiOS-TV feature. Quite why a business would not want a FiOS-TV service was left unanswered. Ok, so I will still have to keep the Comcast stuff for the TV. There were additional IP addresses I could get, and there were two speeds mentioned: 20Mb download/5Mb upload, and 35Mb download/10Mb upload. The 35/10 was over $200, so I skipped that one. There were options for getting domain names and setting up email accounts, too. I said yes to some things and no to others. But in a few minutes we had a system spec'ed out. The woman told me to hang on and she would check out the next available installation date. A moment or two passed with some jingly muzak. The next available date, she said, was going to be [in a very sheepish manner, I might add] this week. Heck, it's only Monday, and she's telling me it will be installed this week! Used to British Telecom in the old days - Yes sir, we can get you a phone line this decade, but you will have to pay extra if we go on strike between now and then! - I was taken aback at the implied speed of installation. I told the woman representative that this would be fine. Signed sealed and delivered. Emails received to confirm!

Of Other Considerations

We have been on the Internet, here at the Mansion, for a few years now. Over the years we have had a couple of steps up the bandwidth ladder. I remember thinking that a 14.4Kb modem was a pretty swift little device once upon a time! Of course in those days you didn't have firewalls, virii were moderately rare, and rootkits were unknown. Botwebs were made by science fiction mechanical spiders. As we went DSL, then stepped up the performance a bit we went through a couple of firewall routers (see my FVS 318 scribbles). But it occurred to me that I was going to need something more. 20Mb/s is faster than 10Mb/s - well that's pretty simple math! But it means that many of the Routers that are available will put an end to the high bandwidth fun in a heartbeat. Many are only half duplex, they will not actually do 10mb/s in both directions, only as a sum of both directions - say 5Mb/s each way. Ah. I had done some searching for new Routers recently when a WAN port failed on a router, to see what was out there, and the pickin's were slim!

This time however there were some new toys at the party. And one of them looks very promising, it's a Netgear FVS 336G. The only issue is that it is currently made of unobtanium. Shipping units made of real stuff look to be available Real Soon Now. I can't wait!

Next steps

Soon we will be doing the DNS Dance, updating the registrar entry for the domains with the new IP addresses, then the 24-72 hour wait while it propagates. I also have to break the news to the old DSl vendor, whom I have been with since 2000, C'est La Vie!.

Megabit WAN networking here we come!


© Copyright A. Maclean 2007
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