Waiting to win the FiOS lottery — for forever?

Who among you have been lucky enough to have won the Verizon FiOS lottery?

Okay, perhaps the metaphor isn't quite precise since one cannot choose to win the lottery while one can choose FiOS over a local cable monopoly or satellite TV service. But unlike cable or satellite, FiOS isn't available everywhere, only to around 15 to 18 million homes — and mine isn't one of them.

That makes those of you who can choose FiOS the aforementioned lucky lottery winners (now you see the accuracy of the metaphor), and the estimated 4.4 million of you who have chosen FiOS for your TV service and 5 million for broadband connectivity smart lottery winners.

And not being a FiOS lottery winner makes me angrier than, well, someone who plays the same numbers in the lottery every week — except the week that number actually comes in. And my anger — and perhaps that of all non-FiOS lottery winners — is unlikely to be sated given the recent Verizon/FiOS news.

Do not mistake this post for a commercial or my shrill quill for shill. But everyone I know who has opted to get FiOS raves about both the HD picture quality and the Internet speeds, just like they rave about them in the commercials.

Not being a FiOS lottery winner makes me mad. But my anger extends beyond mere jealousy.

For one thing, why does Verizon constantly have to shove my non-lottery-winning-luck in my face?

The End of FiOS?

If this sounds like a familiar refrain, you're either a long-time reader or you need to get out of the house more often. I expressed a similar anger about FiOS commercials exactly three years ago in this space. (Almost to the day, even.)

As I noted at the time in 2009, I considered the constant barrage of FiOS TV promotions like such a tease, each tempting airing reminding me of my neighborhood's pre-FiOS inadequacies and giving me a case of broadband blue balls.

At the time of my original expression, Verizon had indicated it would have all of New York City wired by the end of 2014, so at least I had some hope of one day telling Time-Warner where to shove its limited HD DVRs and its inconsistent service.

Now even that thin hope has been dashed, which does not improve my humor.
At the end of last year, Verizon president and CEO Lowell McAdam appeared at a UBS Media and Communications Conference and proclaimed "...we are going to build out [of FiOS] what we said and not any more." GHAK!

In other words, if you haven't already been a FiOS lottery winner, now you can't even buy a ticket.

I have plied Verizon with queries as to whether my nabe is among the intended areas previously proclaimed to be wired, but have met with nothing but silence.

The End of Competition?

Why is Verizon ending FiOS? Not because it's not profitable. (It is.) Because the company has signed a deal with Big Cable to instead concentrate its network resources and co-market LTE broadband service.

While this may be a good deal for Verizon, it's a bad deal for U.S. employment: no more FiOS means no more construction jobs building out the company's fiber optic network.

Last month, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) filed documents with the FCC — and more recently hundreds of workers gathered outside the FCC — protesting the proposed Verizon/Big Cable bill, citing not only the loss of jobs for its members but the deal's violation-in-spirit of the FCC's National Broadband Plan to provide 100 million unconnected households with speedy broadband.

But the CWA makes a more cogent point concerning us non-FiOS folks who have no choice except to settle for bottle-necked Big Cable broadband connections — lack of competition.

As the CWA points out:

The states with the fastest [broadband] speeds are those where FiOS and cable companies compete head to head. The proposed Transaction will eliminate incentives for FiOS competition, moving the United States even farther from that goal at a time when the country still trails the world and is ranked 32 in terms of broadband speeds.

Not quite number 32, perhaps, but we're behind Sweden, Latvia and Romania.

Romania? Dracula has a faster Internet connection than I do?

The End of Commercials?

But like waving a bag o' blood in front of a caged vampire, Verizon has the colossal cajones to announce it will increase already speedy FiOS broadband speeds for you lucky FiOS lottery winners.

Instead of 150 Mbps download/35 Mbps upload and 50 Mbps/20 Mbps, FiOS' new top speeds will be 300 Mbps/65 Mbps, 150 Mbps/65 Mbps, 75 Mbps/35 Mbps and 50 Mbps/25 Mbps.

Instead of a two-hour 5 GB video downloading in 4.4 minutes under FiOS' old top speed, get it now in 2.2 minutes.

Pricing on the new FiOS speed tiers will be announced next week — surely to be followed by a barrage of smug "if you are lottery lucky you could have FiOS" TV commercials.

My mind reels with curses galore — and so should yours.

Image of lottery balls in a wheel via Martin Kemp/Shutterstock, Verizon FiOS logo added by DVICE.

Full Disclosure: DVICE is a Syfy blog, which is an NBC Universal property, which is in turn owned by Comcast. Comcast operates services that directly compete(d) with Verizon FiOS.

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