I remember how excited I was when I first read about Verizon’s FIOS technology. The company intended to blanket the country with fiber-optic lines, bringing lightning-fast Internet, wonderful high-definition TV and low-cost, reliable phone service to millions of homes. I was especially thrilled that I’d finally have another Internet service option besides Comcast and the phone company’s DSL service. I could hardly wait.
That was nearly five years ago, and I’m still waiting for FIOS (the F surely stands for fiber, but no one’s very forthcoming about what the rest of it stands for). It was introduced in Keller, Tex., in September 2005. Reading about it, I felt like the people in Keller were taunting me. “It’s been the most incredible service I’ve ever had,” one Keller citizen was quoted as saying. “You’re either part of the technology revolution or you’re not, and I wanted to be part of the cutting edge.” Uh – me, too.
By June 2007, Verizon’s FIOS was available in 12 states and had more than 500,000 subscribers. Although my state, Maryland, was one of them, my neighborhood was not.
I started checking Verizon’s FIOS locator page regularly. Every time I entered my address and phone number, it responded with the message: “We’re sorry. FIOS is not currently available in your area.” As if I didn’t know that. It also gave me the option to add my name to a list so that I’d be notified when the service was available. But they never wrote, they never called. If they had, I would’ve been deluged with voice and e-mails – that’s how often I added my name to that list.
Meanwhile, FIOS was growing up all around me. In Northern Virginia. In the District of Columbia. In several parts of Maryland. But not in my neighborhood.
Then, last summer, glimmers of hope. FIOS trucks were spotted in our neighborhood. Then, our homeowners’ association newsletter announced that, indeed, FIOS would be coming in the summer of 2009. But it turned out that Verizon was leading me on yet again. FIOS was installed in the next neighborhood over – about six blocks away. It did not come to my street.
As of the end of the second quarter of 2010, Verizon FIOS was available to 12.9 million “premises,” according to its financial reports. And I was pretty sure that mine would never be one of them.
Finally, this summer, along came a crew of subcontractors – digging holes and trenches every 10 to 20 feet, laying fiber, putting stinking port-a-potties at the end of our street. And Verizon started teasing me again with flyers left on my front door and brochures in the mail. “FIOS is coming soon to your neighborhood!” they said.
It’s been about six weeks now. The construction crews (and the port-a-potties, thank God) are gone. All is quiet. Including Verizon. I haven’t received a flyer in awhile. Tonight, I checked the FIOS availability page again. It still tells me that the service is not available in my area.
As far as I’m concerned, FIOS stands for “forever imminent online service.” Before I’ve even had a chance to try it – and regardless of how wonderful the technology may be – I’ve soured on FIOS. If Verizon does ever offer to sell it to me, it’s hard to imagine that it could be so incredible as to make up for these repeated disappointments. Besides, I bet that the next new, and even better, technology is right around the corner. I’m so good at waiting, I just might wait for that one to arrive.