the path to fios (and no longer having a copper phone line)

I upgraded from DSL to FIOS internet on November 1st.  I was hoping to keep my copper phone line but that was not to be.  This is the story of how Verizon runs customer service along with the actual FIOS setup.

Low expectations

It took Verizon 10-12 days to do a straightforward transfer to phone/DSL between apartments which set my expectations for this to be quite low.  I have had better experiences with Verizon Wireless and the Chromebook so was hoping FIOS was more like that.

Lying salespeople

When I asked at CodeRanch if people had any FIOS advice, Pat Farrell immediately wrote “The Verizon sales folks are lying bas****.”.  In addition to telling me that I could keep my copper phone, they tried to sell me on using FIOS for tv.   I told the first sales guy I was using bunny ears for TV thinking that would end the TV sales pitch.  Nope!  Instead, Joey tells me that once Verizon finishes wiring the area for FIOS, bunny ear antennas won’t work anymore.  That doesn’t even make sense.  Bunny ears pick of over the air waves.  Which are broadcast from Manhattan; not supplied by Verizon.  (While I do own bunny ears, I actually use Time Warner for TV and want to continue.)

Friday – The onsite visit

This actually went well.  Verizon gives a 4 hour window for the arrival of the tech.  (8-12).  The tech called me shortly after 8am to tell me I was his second job of the day.  That was useful as there was no need to expect him too early.  When calling the Verizon # from my home phone, it then informed me the tech would arrive between 11 and 12.  The tech actually arrived at 10:30.

The FIOS box needs to be located near a three prong outlet.  I asked for it to get behind the fridge as it is rather large and my closet doesn’t have power.  The tech was fine with that and didn’t make a mess drilling the two small halls too put it there.  He also fixed the wire Time Warner left hanging in the hallway when they had been there the previous week.

The tech did need to wait over an  hour for the ONE guy who can do the end of the job.

The installer did tell me that his workorder said they would switch phone too because I have a double play package.  While he was there, I called Verizon and was told:

  • Call #1 – Frank – Because I’m in an apartment building, I have to choose between copper and FIOS.  (The installer said it is possible to keep both because others in the building still have copper.)
  • Call #2 – My hope was to speak to someone else.  Verizon detects I already called and tries to connect me to the same agent.  No!  I wanted a second opinion.  Luckily Frank was busy and I got connected to another rep.  This rep Ms Boven? says it doesn’t show I will be changed to FIOS for the phone.

Copper and FIOS do work simultaneously

When the tech left around 3:30, my old copper phone line and FIOS data did both work at the same time.  This was also the case at 4:15.  Since Verizon tech’s hours end at 4, this tells me he didn’t turn it off.

This aggravates me because it means the ONLY  reason you can’t have a copper phone line is because Verizon says so.

A sidebar: why copper is better

I understand that Verizon is making a concerted effort to get people off copper so they don’t have to support it.  I understand I would have to switch eventually.  But while other people in the building still have copper phone, I don’t see why I can’t pay more to continue it.

There were only two reasons to have a home phone number instead of VOIP.

  1. It worked in a power outage.  FIOS phone works for up to 8 hours in a power outage.  Potentially more if you have a backup battery.  Where I live in NYC, I’ve never experienced a power outage less than 8 hours.  They are rare, but long.  This advantage is gone.
  2. If you call 911, they can automatically detect where you are down to the apartment number.

This means that home phone is like an insurance policy that happens to make/receive phone calls.

Friday – 7:30pm – bye copper

I pick up the phone and no longer have a dialtone.  I call Verizon and Richard did a line test.  He had me unplug both phones and rebooted the internet/phone  I saw the internet go down for 2 minutes.  The problem is clearly that Verizon turned off copper service, but I’m required for a tech to come by as their records show I am still on copper phone.  My choices are Monday morning or Wednesday morning.

Saturday morning – text confirmation

Verizon sends me “1/2” texts to confirm appointment.  The second text never arrived.  I do get an email that my service call was completed (referring to Friday’s) which was a bit confusing.

I go online to read my service ticket which simply says “new install. no dial tone.”  I updated it with a description of the problem.  It limits the # characters you can submit without an error message or character count.  I wound up counting on another side and copying back in.

Monday – onsite visit

Verizon called at 8:15 to give an ETA of 20 minutes.  The tech confirmed that they did in fact switch me to FIOS for phone and set up a wire to my phone.  (This could have been done on Friday.)  Claims I can be switched back. He says I need to call the business office.  Great.  I get to spend the day on the phone with Verizon and make up my work later.

Monday am – follow up from onsite dept

I gave Verizon a low rating for customer satisfaction for the Friday visit since it ended with not having a phone at all.  Jeff called to see if the problem was with his tech.  No, his tech was fine.  He called again a few days later to see if the problem was resolved.  I’m actually impressed with their onsite department.

Monday – am calls

I waited on hold for 10 minutes at 9:06 before giving up and calling back later.  I called again at 9:39 and Lisa in tech routed me to customer service.  Rochelle claims that she sill switch me back and it will work in 45/60 minutes.  She even gives me a confirmation number. There was a ton of background noise and I could hear two other conversations.  While I’m on the phone, she tries to sell me on other service, my favorite being a triple play.  We’ve already established I don’t WANT FIOS phone, but by all means read off the script anyway.  After this call, I get an email that I was switched to the Freedom Essentials (more expensive phone plan.)

Monday – setup

I’m going into Manhattan lunchtime, but need a way to know whether they really did switch me back.  What I do is put my answering machine attached to the copper line.  This means if the answering machine picks up, I don’t need to complain anymore.

Monday – noon calls

I get to spend lunch with Verizon on the phone.  At 12:20, I speak to Portia who claims I wasn’t switched to Freedom Essentials.  I think someone switched me back since the online system says I’m still on Regional Essentials.  She again tells me that my records say I am on copper and that this phone plan is copper only.  Well, apparently it isn’t.  Kirk in repair says he seems that I’m on digital voice.  I’m glad he sees that, since it is true.  Susan in copper tells me you have to be on DSL if on copper.  Their statement is that you can’t have both at the same time.  At this point, I have a meeting so need to let this go for the day.

Tuesday – 8:30am

I immediately say I want to speak to a supervisor.  The person who answered the phone said I need to explain the problem to her first.  I lead with the fact that I’ve spoken to more than six people about this issue and I want to speak to a supervisor.

The supervisor Timothy in Massachusetts was the last person I spoke to on the issue.  He gave the story that they migrate an area to FIOS when their are widespread outages and everyone will be forced to change to FIOS in the future.  (I agree with the later.  However, my apartment building applied to be wired for FIOS.  Others on the block, let alone with area, still have copper.)  He said once they switch you to FIOS, they refuse to go back and don’t allow mixed media.  He said some people were grandfathered into mixed media to my counterexamples.  The conclusion was they will give me a credit for 4 days of service and mail me a backup battery.  And I think I only got that because I had a list of everyone I spoke to and accused them of fraud/false advertising.  Because before that, all I got was an apology.

Getting the battery

They didn’t put my apartment number on the box.  Which is part of my address.  At least they sent it.

Other tech changes

My answering machine is really old so I had to buy a new one.  (Old machines send a signal that FIOS interprets to mean phone # not in service.)  I bought one with two phone receivers so one can live near the FIOS box and one call live near my bed.


Verizon: If you want to force people from copper to FIOS, that’s your right.  But why do you have to be weasels about it?  Just say FIOS is better and it is the future.  Don’t have your reps giving all manner of conflicting information.

AT&T Grandfathers Unlimited Data Plans with iPhone 5 [CONFIRMED]

Following the much anticipated announcement of Apple’s iPhone 5 today, a single unanswered question has been weighing on my mind. Will AT&T customers with existing unlimited data plans still be grandfathered in if they choose to purchase a new iPhone 5 at the subsidized prices ($199 for 16GB, $299 for 32GB, $399 for 64GB)? The answer is here, and it is a resounding “yes”!

CONFIRMED [9/12/2012]: According to today’s AT&T press release, users with unlimited plans will definitely be able to keep them:

“We are thrilled to offer iPhone 5 on the nation’s largest 4G network. We’ve worked with Apple since the original in 2007 and this is hands-down their best phone yet,” said Ralph de la Vega, president & CEO, AT&T Mobility. “We offer customers the flexibility to keep the iPhone data plans they already have or choose any of our individual or new Mobile Share plans. We’re proud that more customers choose AT&T for iPhone than any other U.S. carrier and look forward to making iPhone 5 the newest addition to our lineup.”

Verizon’s Poor Customer Service Decision

Avid Apple enthusiasts may recall that Verizon nixed unlimited plans for subsidized upgrades back in May 2012, a poor customer service move indeed. While Verizon still allows users to keep the plans by purchasing the unsubsidized iPhone, it does not make a lot of sense to spend hundreds of extra dollars on what may amount to $5-$20 per month (or nothing at all) in savings on the tiered plans.

Two AT&T Representatives Confirm Grandfather Rule

I called AT&T (1-888-333-6651) and spoke with a woman named Patricia, who assured me that as long as I upgraded my phone to an iPhone 5 through an AT&T representative, I would be able to keep my plan. She did caution me against upgrading at the Apple Store, not because it was not allowed, but that because last year some less-educated customers accidentally signed up for a new data plan at the Apple Store, and as AT&T will tell you, “Once the unlimited data plan has been removed, it cannot be added again”.

I also used Live Chat support on AT&T’s website and spoke to a person name Andre who confirmed that information; the transcript is posted below:

You are now chatting with Andre S., an AT&T sales representative.

Andre S.: Welcome to AT&T online Sales support. How may I assist you with placing your order today?

Scott: Hi Andre S. I currently have an unlimited Data plan for my iPhone 4. Will I lose this unlimited data plan if I choose to upgrade to an iPhone 5 at the subsidized price?

Andre S.: Hi Scott!! I'll be happy to assist you today with your inquiry.
Andre S.: You will not lose your data plan if you upgrade to a new phone.

Scott: even the iPhone 5 with LTE?

Andre S.: No matter which phone you get.

Scott: does it matter if I order via the Apple Store or the AT&T store?

Andre S.: It would not matter you will still be keeping your old plan.

Scott: Thank you

Disclaimer: I do not work for AT&T and cannot guarantee that, even if AT&T has a company-wide policy of grandfathering plans, your particular representative will be able to upgrade your phone without accidentally losing your data plan. As always, buyer beware.

getting started with the chromebook – part 3

We’ve finished part 2 and I’m still happy with the Chromebook itself.  Today I’ll be walking through the process of activating 3g service from Verizon and my impressions of it.  I’ll post back some time from now how bandwidth usage is over time.  In particular, I’m concerned with how often/large the software updates are.  So far it has been 10 days and no updates so I know it isn’t a weekly thing.


“My Google Chromebook” has instructions on how to get started with 3g. Unfortunately, it is already out of date.  It says to click the network icon on the top.  It is no longer on the top.  Instead click on the bottom and choose “settings and help”.  Or go to chrome://chrome/settings/ in a browser.

  1. Pull down mobile access 

  2. Fill in a straightforward form.  It doesn’t require a credit card if choosing free plan  No dash allowed in mailing address though .  This is always fun.  My address has a dash.
  3. Terms and conditions warn you will be charged for video buffering even if you don’t watch it.  Sample bandwidth is shown.  10K for an email.  1MB for a webpage. 3mB for a PowerPoint.  200-500 MB for a Windows update.  (Wonder how much a Chrome OS one is).  More at
  4. A month is considered 30 days
  5. See and s at
  6. You get a wireless #.  apparently the computer is treated as a phone nobody can call
  7. They also provide a # for Chromebook connectivity tech support: 800-922-0204.  Once you enter your #, it knows you have a Chromebook.

Checking your bandwidth usage

Verizon offers the following options to check your bandwidth usage:

  1. There are a few ways on the Chromebook.  I find the easiest to be:
    1. Click on network connection icon.
    2. Click on connected to Verizon Wireless
    3. Click on Verizon Wireless
    4. A pop-up comes up with the bandwidth remaining for the month and the number of days left in the month.  I’ve noticed sometimes the data doesn’t load on that screen.  Try again.
    5. Alternatively click “my account” on that page which opens a browser. That always works.  However, this data has quite a lag.  The pop-up tells me I have 50MB left and the browser says I have 75MB left
  2. My Verizon – This only works from the device not via a URL.  And if you are on the device it isn’t the easiest way.  I tried to register with verizonwireless but it says, “We’re sorry but you cannot register you tablet on  Please setup your account information on your device.”

I also got a warning in the lower right corner of the screen when I only had 50MB data left available.  And when I ran out, I got a warning in that spot saying I was out of mobile data and a link to buy a plan.  Not sure if I had a plan whether I would get charged for overages or it would just stop. I  imagine the former.

I can’t find a way to check bandwidth from a different computer.  I asked in a forum.  I can get it by phone by calling 800-922-0204 or 888-294-6804 and entering my phone #/4 digit security code.  It’s a lot of info to enter and you have to talk to a human though which means it is easier to just ask my mother to check.  Note that I haven’t paid for the 1GB plan yet so it could get easier when I do.
Is it hard to connect?
I had trouble once so far.  It was during a thunderstorm; don’t know if that matters.  I wound up clicking the button to disable 3g and re-enable 3g and all was fine.  That or I waited a few minutes.
How is the speed?
For regular browsing it is fine.  It isn’t quite as fast as my home wifi but not noticeably different.  (Note that I have pretty slow DSL to compare to.)  I was able to watch a few videos on youtube without hitting any buffering.
Do I think 3G is enough?
So far so good.  It wouldn’t be enough for just me.  But I think the 1GB plan will be enough for someone who just browsers the internet and doesn’t listen to music/watch video.  To use up the free 100MB in 10 days, I uploaded a bunch of screenshots and watched some videos.  But I did most of my real internet surfing on my Mac.  Next month I’ll try to use it for internet more actively to see what happens.  But I will be buying the 1GB plan before giving the Chromebook to my mother giving her 10 times the bandwidth.  Unless OS patches are huge!