Fiber-optic internet services like Verizon FiOS have the potential to be faster than cable internet services like Comcast; however, both companies currently offer the average user typically comparable speeds in package deals that are similarly priced.
As a creator, owner, and distributor of content, Comcast is the world's largest media conglomerate by revenue. It is also the biggest cable internet provider in the United States. FiOS is a fiber-optic internet service by Verizon, which is the United States' largest fiber-optic internet provider.
This comparison focuses on Comcast's internet services in relation to Verizon's FiOS service.
|Introduction (from Wikipedia)||Comcast Corporation is the largest cable television and cable internet provider in the United States.||Verizon FiOS is a bundled Internet access, telephone, and television service that operates over a fiber-optic communications network. It is offered in some areas of the United States by Verizon Communications and Frontier Communications.|
|Headquarters||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA||New York City, New York, USA|
|Key people||CEO & Chairman Brian L. Roberts||Chairman, President, & CEO Lowell C. McAdam|
|Products||Cablecasting, Broadband Internet, VoIP, Comcast Digital Voice||Fiber-Optic Internet Service|
|Slogan||It's Comcastic!||That's Powerful.|
|Website||www.comcast.com www.comcast.net www.cmcsk.com||www.verizon.com/home/fios|
|Internet Speeds (Download)||3Mbps to 505Mbps||15Mbps to 500Mbps|
|Internet Speeds (Upload)||768Kbps to 105Mbps||5Mbps to 100Mbps|
|Pricing||$40 to $400 / mo.||$50 to $300 / mo.|
The speeds you can get from either Comcast or Verizon FiOS depend on your local infrastructure and the package deal you subscribe to. Comcast has cheaper "economy" packages that offer slower speeds (3Mbps download, 768Kbps upload), but the company also offers more expensive high-speed connections (505Mbps download, 105Mbps upload) for certain locations. Due to the nature of fiber-optic internet, all of Verizon's FiOS plans offer relatively high speeds, and their highest speed internet — 500Mbps — rolled out in 2014. Like Comcast, Verizon's fastest high-speed internet packages can be expensive.
A good way to check Internet speeds in your area is to look at Google's Video Quality Report; it charts the performance of local ISPs over the past 30 days based on their ability to stream YouTube videos in HD quality.
Upload vs Download Speeds
In July 2014, Verizon announced that they would offer symmetric upload and download speeds. Traditionally, ISPs offer high download speeds but upload speeds are usually a fraction of the promised download speeds. But Verizon FiOS uses fiber optic cable to the home, and this technological infrastructure lets Verizon offer upload speeds that match download speeds.
Having a high upload speed makes it faster to upload data to cloud services like Apple's iCloud, Google Drive, Dropbox and Microsoft OneDrive, on which consumers have increasingly relied to back up their pictures, videos, documents and other data.
Pricing for both Comcast's internet services and Verizon's FiOS service vary wildly depending on the internet package chosen. Both companies offer internet as a stand-alone service or as a part of bundled deals that combine internet, television, and/or phone service into one monthly bill. Both offer special internet-only deals as well.
Comcast offers economy plans for around $40 a month, and their highest speed internet, which is aimed more at businesses, goes for around $300 a month. Verizon's more affordable internet plan goes for $50 a month and offers much faster speeds than Comcast's cheapest plan; their most expensive, which is again aimed at businesses, goes for $300 a month.
Covering nearly 90 percent of the United States, cable internet is accessible to most users, even those in rural areas. In contrast, fiber-optic internet service covers less than a quarter of the nation, with the best coverage existing in Rhode Island (86% coverage), Oregon (77%), and South Dakota (70%).
Comcast is available in 39 states, with the broadest coverage found in California, Florida, and Illinois. Provided Comcast's cable internet service is available in your area, all you need to do to get it running in your home is sign up for an internet package and get a cable modem and wireless router.
Verizon FiOS is available across 13 states, and its greatest coverage is in New York, New Jersey, and California. Unfortunately, its general coverage can be very spotty not only at the national level but also at the local level, and Verizon has been criticized for not doing more to expand its fiber-optic network. There have even been reports of FiOS being available on one floor of a building, but not another.
Comcast's internet uses the same cables that cable television does, which contributes to the widespread availability of the service. These wire cables, which are made of copper, transmit electrical currents to receive and deliver data. As a cheaper and sometimes older technology which runs on pre-existing cable television lines or phone lines, cable internet is unlikely to reach the faster speeds that higher-quality fiber-optic lines can. However, some have argued that cable internet is technically able to reach gigabit speeds, but that the industry is slow to roll out such technology due to a lack of competition.
Verizon FiOS uses fiber-optic technology—known as "fiber to the x" outside of the "FiOS" trademark—to deliver its internet service. Fiber-optic cables are very thin—about the diameter of a human hair—and can transmit pulsing light signals across long distances. Fiber's use of light makes it faster than traditional copper cabling and more capable of handling increased web traffic.
The following video explains how fiber-optic cables work:
Internet Service Providers often provide an integrated modem and wireless router to their customers. Some of these are free while sometimes there is a $3-$7 fee per month. [Aside: It is almost always a good idea to get your own equipment rather than pay the service provider a fee every month. Unless the device is free as part of the ISP's promotion for new customers, get your own router and modem.] In early 2014, it was publicized that Verizon knows and stores customers' SSID (network name) and the Wi-Fi network password. This is not good from a security standpoint. For example, if you re-use passwords and have the same password for your banking account as you do for your home network, this could pose a serious security problem for you.
Comcast was founded in 1963 in Tupelo, Mississippi. Over the years, Comcast has merged with and acquired many diverse companies, from retail and music providers to hockey franchises. In 1996, Comcast began offering cable internet; high-speed broadband was rolled out in 2002. Today, Comcast is the most widely used cable internet service provider in the United States.
Compared to Comcast, Verizon is a new company that was formed in 2000 in New York City. However, it was formed from two other, older companies that had merged: Bell Atlantic Corp. and GTE Corp. Verizon began offering its FiOS internet service in 2004. Like Comcast's cable internet, Verizon FiOS is the most widely used internet service of its kind (fiber-optic) in the United States; this is mostly due to its being the only fiber-optic service deployed on a large scale.
If you don't want to sign up with Comcast, which some consider to be part of an oligopoly in the communications industry, there may be other cable internet companies in your area. Some of Comcast's biggest competitors, at least by population covered, include Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications, Cox Communications, Optimum, and Bright House Networks.
For fiber-optic internet, you have fewer cities or companies to choose from. Beyond Verizon FiOS, there is Level 3 Communications, NetCarrier Telecom, Zayo Enterprise Networks, Fibertech, and Lightower Fiber Networks, all of whom serve fiber-optic internet to various locations.
Google has entered the competition with Google Fiber, but its service is only available in Kansas City, Kansas and Provo, Utah as of 2014. Austin, Texas is Google Fiber's next stop, and more cities will gain access to the service in coming years.
- Official Verizon FiOS Website
- Cable Internet in the United States - Broadband Now
- Comcast Bumps $300, 305 Mbps Tier to 500 Mbps - DSLReports
- Comcast Corp Profile - Reuters
- Comcast Overview and Coverage - Broadband Now
- Comcast's Pricey 505 Mbps Tier Expands Into New Markets - DSLReports
- A few feet from failure: why Verizon FiOS in New York is a sad joke - The Verge
- Fiber-Optic Internet in the United States - Broadband Now
- Is Your Internet Connection Slower Than Advertised? - WSJ.com
- Timeline - Comcast
- Verizon FiOS Overview and Coverage - Broadband Now
- Verizon FiOS rolls out 500/100 Mbps broadband, its highest speed tier yet - Engadget
- What are the actual Provisioned Speeds? - Comcast FAQ on DSLReports
- Why Comcast and other cable ISPs aren't selling you gigabit internet - Ars Technica
- Why is fibre optic technology 'faster' than copper? - ABC.net.au Science
- Wikipedia: Comcast
- Wikipedia: Verizon FiOS
- Video Streaming Quality Report - Google