FiOS is just one version of fiber-to-the-home or fiber-to-the-premises Internet access. More than 10 million homes worldwide already have this service, and experts at the FTTH Council say that number is growing. That's because FTTH technology is seen as "future safe," or capable of handling the predicted vast increase in Web traffic during the coming decades.
There are more than 34 companies prepared to offer FTTH [source: FTTH Council]. Verizon provides FiOS Internet, television and telephone service separately or as a packaged bundle. FiOS is compatible with PCs using Windows Vista, Windows XP and Windows 2000 as well as most Macintosh systems. Specifications vary by service level. While other computer operating systems such as Linux may be configured to work with FiOS, Verizon does not provide support for customers using those systems.
FiOS uses fiber optic technology, to carry more information at faster speeds than traditional copper coaxial cable.In a fiber optic system, light signals travel down an extremely thin tube of very pure glass that's about the width of a human hair. The light reflects off the side of the tube, allowing it to carry information through the tube as it bends and twists.
A computer sending information translates data into light signals and sends it out onto the fiber optic network. On the receiving end, another computer translates the light signals back into the digital information it needs to interface with its human operator.
Fiber optic connections can carry any type of information -- voice, data, pictures, movies and more -- which permits Verizon to offer FiOS Internet, television and telephone service on the same network.
Verizon will install the service to a primary computer at no charge, though there are installation fees associated with month-to-month agreements, as well as charges for additional computers. Professional installers also install special wiring along with any needed wall jacks and an optical network terminal (ONT) on the inside or outside of the residence. The ONT enables other FiOS hardware, including the power supply unit and the battery backup unit.
Once the ONT is installed, the technician evaluates the wiring in the residence to determine whether it's compatible with the new FiOS service and will install the appropriate wiring if needed. He or she also will install the FiOS router and software and connect the subscriber's computer to the Internet.