Verizon is now selling what it calls “FiOS Gigabit Connection” for $69.99 a month in a change that boosts top broadband speeds and makes lower prices available to many Internet subscribers.
Actual bandwidth will be a bit lower than a gigabit per second, with “downloads as fast as 940Mbps and uploads as fast as 880Mbps,” Verizon’s announcement today said. The gigabit service is available in most of Verizon’s FiOS territory, specifically to “over 8 million homes in parts of the New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Richmond, Va., Hampton Roads, Va., Boston, Providence and Washington, D.C. areas,” Verizon said.
Verizon’s FiOS territory includes more than 14 million homes, of which about 5.7 million subscribe to Verizon’s fiber Internet service. Verizon provided this link for checking gigabit availability.
Just three months ago, Verizon boosted its top speeds from 500Mbps to 750Mbps. Verizon today said network performance exceeded its expectations, with customers regularly seeing actual speeds well above the advertised rate. “Verizon has since fine-tuned the service with new firmware and diagnostic tools to increase performance even more. The result is FiOS Gigabit Connection service,” the company said.
UPDATE: It turns out the $70 price is only available to new customers. Verizon did not make that clear in its announcement.
Automatic price cut
The standalone 750Mbps Internet service cost $150 a month, more than twice the price of the new gigabit tier. Existing customers who bought that 750Mbps plan “will automatically receive FiOS Gigabit Connection and will see their bills lowered,” Verizon said. It’s not clear whether they will get their price lowered all the way to $70.
The $70 price for gigabit service is the actual base price, not a promotional offering that will be automatically raised after a set period of time, a Verizon spokesperson told Ars. “It’s not promotional. No plans to raise price at this time,” Verizon said.
(UPDATE: This statement is contradicted by Verizon’s online ordering system, which says the $70 price is a promotional rate that will “increase after promo period.” There is also a $10 per month router charge unless you pay $150 for the Verizon router, plus other taxes and fees.)
In areas where FiOS Gigabit is available, Verizon said it is removing some intermediate speed tiers and will sell only two tiers of standalone Internet service, specifically 50Mbps for $40 a month and the $70 gigabit plan. These are the prices you get when you order online—plans ordered over the phone usually cost $5 or $10 more a month, Verizon said.
Bundles of the gigabit service with Verizon’s Custom TV and digital voice start at “$79.99 in year one and $84.99 in year two, with a two-year agreement,” Verizon said. Those prices will rise after customer agreements expire, but Verizon said it doesn’t have the future prices yet. “That always depends on a number of things, most notably content cost increases,” Verizon told Ars.
Verizon also charges “broadcast” and “regional sports network” fees that raise prices above the rates advertised for TV service.
Others will pay more for slower speeds
Unfortunately, there aren’t any changes to existing pricing and service tiers in FiOS areas where gigabit is not yet available. “We will continue to expand but have no timetable to share yet on availability in additional markets,” Verizon said. That means customers in some FiOS areas will continue to pay more than $70 a month for speeds slower than a gigabit. Looking at Verizon’s website today, we saw an offer for 500Mbps service that costs $180 a month in the first year, and more after that.
In parts of its territory, Verizon competes against Comcast, which has offered gigabit download speeds (and much slower uploads) for prices as low as $70 a month. The $70 price for gigabit Internet was popularized by Google Fiber and has been matched by other ISPs such as AT&T.