We Knew FiOS Was Fast, But Why Is It Always Setting People's Homes On Fire?

from the maybe-slow-down-on-the-installs? dept

We’ve had a few stories now about Verizon FiOS (its fiber optic broadband offering) installs that resulted in fires and damaged properties. While Verizon’s PR folks have focused an awful lot of effort on convincing reporters that where there’s smoke there isn’t necessarily fire, perhaps the company should put a few more resources towards both preventing fires and fixing things up for those whose property was destroyed by install-related fires. Broadband Reports points us to yet another FiOS-related fire (which the reporter at Network World is now calling FiOS: Fire is Our Speciality), where Verizon promised to help the family impacted by paying for their living expenses and reimbursing them for destroyed property. The only problem? That bill came to $58,000, and Verizon only wants to pay $1,800 of it. The family has now decided to take the matter to court. You would think, given the negative publicity over the previous fires, that Verizon would know to pay up and apologize, rather than try to stiff the folks whose house they set on fire.

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Companies: verizon

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Comments on “We Knew FiOS Was Fast, But Why Is It Always Setting People's Homes On Fire?”

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8 bits in a byte says:

Re: I got FiOS installed recently

Computers measure in BYTES, networks measure bits. Theres 8 bits in a byte – do the math, you’re getting the 5 megabit per second (I guarantee no commercial said 5 megabyte /second) that was advertised.

You can call that mis-leading, and I can call you an ass for making ass-umptions about technical information you’re not familiar with based on someones over-hyped commercials. And if I were in the mood to flame your trusting stupidity, I could also call you a lazy, gullible consumer, expecting “Jesus-Verizon” to hand deliver the world over to your doorstep in 60 seconds or less.

TechGod (user link) says:

Re: I got FiOS installed recently

All ISP’s post their connection speeds in Mbps(Mega bits per second). 5 Mbps is what Verizon clearly advertises to customers which is 610.35 KBps(Kilo Bytes per second). I’d say that you are actually lucky to be getting 630 KBps. There isn’t a provider out there that can give you 5 Mega Bytes per second. It isn’t possible.
I wonder how many other customers are taken in by this because they don’t understand the conversion table?

Aetuneo says:

Re: I got FiOS installed recently

Every commercial that I have seen for an ISP is very clear, when they mention what speed the connection is, and not just that it’s faster than their competitors: they are selling Kbs, or Mbs. Small b, not large B. Bits, not Bytes. When you sign up for a service, it is also very clear that it is Mbs, not MBs. If you don’t know a thing about technology, don’t expect something without asking an expert if you will get it.

JTB74129 says:

Re: Question

Farmed out or in-house…Verizon is still liable. THe outsourced installers are still representing Verizon and if they “goof” an install the installer is responsible. If the installer doesn’t make good, the liabilities fall on Verizon, for whom the installer contracted with. In a word, Verizon is the “Co-Signer”.

Kevin says:


1. Pay up, it’s good PR.
2. Pay up. If you’re going to run around setting people’s houses on fire, the very least you could do (morally) is compensate them from the damage.
3. Pay up. Whether you’re doing the installation yourself or subcontracting it out, you should be bonded and insured to cover this exact sort of situation.

And for anyone ordering FIOS in the near future, I highly recommend that you get a fire extinguisher and keep it on hand while you supervise the installation.

Mike says:

Pay up

I agree with Kevin. By not paying up, they are sending a message:
Not only may we set your house on fire, but we won’t pay for the damages if we do!

Also, can’t complain about them putting their stats in mbps vs. MB/s if that is what the industry does (and they do). You should have checked the mbps entry in Wikipedia! Greg’s got another good point: 1 mbps to 5 mbps is still 5x’s as fast! Can’t expect it to make toast when it’s not advertised to…well, usually you can’t…

FunK says:

Ummm, was this new FIOS customer as upset at his previous provider when he wasn’t getting exacly X MegaBytes/s?

Seems the light just now went on and he’s upset at the standard everyone uses. That’s not on the old provider or the new one and frankly, it’s not their job to explain bits and bytes. The old saying “let the buyer beware” stands as much today as it did 100 years ago. This isn’t even clever advertising. It’s just the way things are measured.

It’s like getting upset over not getting a footlong hotdog because it’s only 12 inches..

Ignorance is not a reason to get upset at someone that is providing exactly what they advertised.

cutter892 says:

consumers and tech specs

The problem isn’t them misleading consumers but that most people don’t know the difference between memory and hard-drives let alone something as technical the difference between bits and Bytes. In-fact most people don’t even know what those terms are. All people will care about is that there internet connection is fast.

FunK says:

Re: consumers and tech specs

5 mb/s is fast. Point is, if you don’t understand broadband, go back to dial up. You’re obviously not ready and it will save tech support many silly calls.

Ironically, this article mentions broadbandreports.com. That site is a wealth of knowledge about all the broadband carriers and a simple look through their speed tests, forums, articles, etc CLEARLY explain the differences. Any search for FIOS, Broadband, time warner, DSL, etc would have landed some top results pointing to that site and it’s information.

There is no excuse. Be mad if you like but point the frustration where it should be focused – the mirror.

Rod (user link) says:

Not marketing problem, user education

It’s not Verizon’s marketing that is the problem if you don’t know a bit from a byte, and they are not trying to mislead you. Data transfer is ALWAYS measured in bits per second.
Data storage is measured in bytes.
That is just the way it is and always has been. Ethernet is 10 megabits per second, not megabytes. Fast Ethernet is 100Mbps, not 100MBps, gig-E is 1000Mbps not 1000MBps… you get the idea. It is a computer industry standard for measurement of data transfer speed, not a conspiracy by Internet providers to milk more money out of unsuspecting consumers.

Adam (user link) says:

Bits & Bytes, the difference between us

Ok.. ok…

So after a dozen or so posts about the difference between bits & bytes, MBs and mbps, it’s pretty clear that at least 1/2 of us on here are a bit more on the tech savvy side and understand technical lingo well enough to know the difference.

Is Verizon and every other ISP provider being misleading when they measure bandwidth speeds in bits instead of byteS? The real answer is Yes & No… or maybe.. It’s a gray area.

Here’s why:

ISPs have ALWAYS measured bandwidth in bits, not bytes. That’s just the nature of the beast as “8 bits in a byte” posted, networks measure in bits, while things like storage on a HD are measured in Bytes.

So for that part, the ISPs are being truthful, and have not changed their pitch at all.

The only reason why it’s a gray area, is because as broadband continues to proliferate households, there are still MANY, MANY people out there who don’t know the technical difference, and think, OK… My computer has a 100MB HD, and I have a 2MB USB Drive, etc. etc. And when hearing about FIOS or some other ISP who’s bandwidth is 20/Megs down, and 5 Megs up…. Ahhh…. That’s the key right there…. I didn’t say 20 MB or mbps…. Why? Because many consumer’s don’t know/think about that piece and most likely end up thinking MBs… which is what they are more familiar with, and used to.

Are the IPSs to blame for this? Not really, although on the other hand it doesn’t behooth them to educate consumers either, because no ISP wants to be the first to say, “And hey, just so you know, when we say 20 mbps, that equates to only 2.5MB per second.

Also, people that do understand the difference often go around and simply say stuff like 20 megs up/down… because we understand the diffence…. For people who don’t, it only further makes it difficult to know that we are really referring to bits, not bytes…

OK, I can go on, but no need to continue to beat this dead horse with a computer byte, bit, or chubby IDE HD and lay a 5 1/4 floppy over it’s poor decaying carcase at the end.

So… Are we all savvy then?


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Bits & Bytes, the difference between us

Its too late to change or it will confuse the half of us that have always known its measured in megabits/sec

Personally I love this system. A noob user is confused and they start bitching and then it is a good opportunity for them to learn that they don’t know as much as they think they do.

Anonymous CowHerd says:

Re: Re: Bits & Bytes, the difference between us

I love it, don’t you?

People don’t understand a standard that’s been in use for over 3 decades. His solution? Let’s change the standard. That way, everyone who did understand it now doesn’t, and those who were too clueless to understand the first can now be clueless about the second.

Yay logic!

Anonymous CowHerd says:

Re: Bits & Bytes, the difference between us

It’s not “Maybe”. It’s “No”.

Your 14.4K modem used the *exact* same standard 20+ years ago.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, it’s *your* fault and no-one else’s. This standard has been in use since before the BBS was invented. It hasn’t changed once.

Stop trying to pin consumer ignorance on the ISP. It’s stupid, irresponsible, and projects a very “spoiled brat” mentality.

joe blow says:

Re: They are Verizon employees

They did it on purpose.

You see that ploy everywhere now. It is how the internet operates these days.

Someone gets bad PR. Employees or friends of the someone descend en masse on any site discussing the embarrassing subject and set up shop talking about anything they can think of except the subject that is embarrassing to their employer or friend.

Discussion on the internet is dead. Half of the “people” participating in conversations on significant financial or political stories on the internet now are agents of the parties involved.

Ven'Tatsu says:

The numbers game

The (miss)use of various units in marketing of computer parts is practically a tradition in some industries. A 3 1/2 inch floppy is marketed as 1.44 MB, in reality it’s 1.44 KKiB (Kilo-Kibi-Bytes) or 1.44 * 1000 * 1024 * 8 bits. Many if not all hard drives are quoted in base 10, 1 GB is 1000 * 1000 * 1000 * 8 bits. Resulting in a drive with only about .93 GB (GiB) of space from the OS point of view.
The bit/byte is certainly one of the more significant of these games but it’s hardly unique in and industry that is constantly fooling with the numbers to make them look just a little bit better.
Trusting the numbers on a computer product ad or box without understanding what they mean is like trusting a used car salesman.

nipseyrussell says:

outsourced? it matters not. i dont call “Fat Eddie’s Fiber Broadband & Ambient Heating Service” for the install, i call verizon and they take it from there. They are on the hook and should shell out some serious dough when someone is put out of their house. and, frankly, if they are billed $58k and think its too much, they should just pay it and shut up as they look like complete tools for not paying someone they made temporarily homeless. one would hope that there would not be enough fires for this to be a problem to their bottom line. if there are, verizon should be shut down!

re speed, this guy is dead on and anyone who disagrees is only fooling themselves: “people don’t understand a standard that’s been in use for over 3 decades. His solution? Let’s change the standard. That way, everyone who did understand it now doesn’t, and those who were too clueless to understand the first can now be clueless about the second.”

Fat Eddie says:

who you callin' fat?

Don’t blame consumers for not knowing what to believe in marketing copy. Very few consumers can and should be expected to know all the ins and outs of how their plumbing works, yet you don’t blame them if the plumbing stops up when a pipe is cracked, do you? (Now, if they stop it up with junk, yeah, you can have a chat with them about not stuffing it up… but you don’t blame them if they don’t know exactly what the flush rate, water delivery rate, etc. is)


5Tacos (user link) says:

FIOS Fires

Getting to the negative quick is the right thing to do but that is what “WE” would do.

The “BIG GUYS” at the top of businesses don’t see it that way, they see it as, “if we give the 58K then everyone will want full payout for the damage we deliver to their homes. We can’t do that. We have to protect every penny so that we meet our goals and at the end of the day, we get our handsome bonuses”.

Until all the “dinosaurs” die again, we won’t see a change in change in how big companies respond to their responsibility.


Shun says:

5Mbps is not fast

Check the latest oecd report:

and check out: Range of broadband prices per Mbit/s in October 2007

Or, if you want the ars synopsis:


We’re in the middle of the pack, USians. Japan, at 93Mbps is the fastest.

Now, that’s fast. I wouldn’t trust Verizon installers to change a light bulb, much less deploy something that takes talent to roll out, like FiOS.

A. Nonie Moose says:

bits & bytes

Thanks for educating me on the difference between the two. I have been arguing with my son that there IS a difference between MB & mb for over a year and he just implied that I was merely antiquated at my advanced 51 years.

. . .Just wonderin’ did anyone in this argument read the article…

And since you’re going off on all of us self taught ancients who aren’t tech geeks, is there such a thing as a millibyte anymore? might as well get as unconfused as possible.

Coaster says:

I don’t see how Verizon can NOT pay it. WOuldn’t the court case go something like:

Judge: Did you and/or agents contracted and made liable by you for this install, accidentally set this person’s home on fire, causing $58,000 in damages?
Verizon: Well, it was something like….
Judge: I believe I asked a yes or no question. Did you or didn’t you?
Verizon: Er, well….
Judge” Yes or No?
Verizon: But we didn’t MEAN to!!!

In Kindergarten, they taught us to make up for our mistakes. If you are five years old, that means saying “I’m sorry” If you are a major corperation, that means paying for what you broke…or burned.

btw – LOVED the comment “They’re Blazing fast!” That would make an awesome Tshirt 🙂

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