Last year, we asked Tom's Hardware readers to rate their Internet service providers (ISP). After receiving feedback from more than 3,100 audience members from across the United States, we chose the four most-voted companies for the Tom's Hardware ISP Review Survey.
Participants were asked to rate their ISP's price, performance, reliability and support on a scale of one to five stars, with one being the lowest possible score and five being the highest. We also averaged each category's total score and rounded each result to the nearest one-quarter star. Then, we provided the mathematical average of each score, allowing us to compare the companies later on.
Verizon is the only company in our series offering mainstream availability of fiber-optic Internet services (in addition to DSL options). After reviewing the ratings from 234 customers of Verizon's Internet services, it's time to determine how it stacks up in Tom's Hardware's ISP Review.
In 1984, there was a break-up of the massive Bell Operating Co. that previously monopolized the communications industry. Seven "Baby Bell" companies were created, five of which were eventually reacquired by AT&T. The only two remaining Baby Bells were Bell Atlantic and NYNEX.
In 1995, Bell Atlantic formed a joint partnership with NYNEX, and by 1997, the two companies merged in a $24 billion deal to become the second-largest telephone company in the U.S, serving more than 35 million customers from Maine to Virginia. This company was venturing into the expanding wireless communications segment, and was poised to obtain a healthy market share in the Northeastern regions.
In 2000, Bell Atlantic NYNEX merged with GTE Corp. and changed its name to Verizon Communications Inc. The $52 billion merger took almost two years to complete, with 27 state regulatory commissions, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Federal Communications Commission and various international agencies evaluating and providing clearance for the deal.
Up until that point, the company was mostly focused on wireless communications, launching its 3G network in 2002. It wasn't until 2005 that Verizon launched its FiOS all-fiber broadband Internet and TV service. FiOS is a fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) telecommunications service, first introduced in Keller, Texas and Herndon, Virginia in late 2005. Coverage later expanded to Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia, Florida, California, Oregon and Washington; even today, the coverage area continues to grow.
Verizon spent the remainder of the decade acquiring communications companies to expand its customer base. These purchases included companies like MCI in 2006, CyberTrust in 2007 and Rural Cellular in 2008.
In 2010, Verizon deployed its 4G LTE network, starting in 39 major markets and covering more than 110 million people on the first day. This expansion tightened the company's grip on the wireless communications industry.
After Superstorm Sandy, which affected many parts of the Atlantic Coast, Verizon rewired the entire networking grid of Lower Manhattan with 100 percent fiber-optic lines, expanding its FiOS home Internet service to the largest city in the country.
The past two years were impressive for Verizon. The company bought out Vodafone's 45 percent stake in 2014 for an astounding $130 billion. As a wholly owned entity, Verizon was able to take advantage of the changing market dynamics and, in May 2015, announced the acquisition of AOL, one of the early pioneers of the Internet service industry.
As of Q3 2015, Verizon reported 6.9 million home Internet service customers, more than two-thirds of whom are subscribing to FiOS Quantum Internet (fiber-optic) plans. With strong growth projected for its FiOS offerings, Verizon continues to expand its reach and appeal with incredibly fast fiber-optic Internet access.
Verizon's home Internet services are based on two different technologies: DSL and fiber-optics. These services are available in many of the same regions, with the exception being Rhode Island, which does not appear to offer fiber-optic Internet plans.
Fiber-optic connections transport data at extremely high speeds with low latency using light, providing industry-leading download and upload speeds. This is an incredible advantage over cable- and DSL-based Internet services; upload speeds for those older technologies peak at a fraction of advertised download speeds for fiber-optics networks.
Verizon high-speed (DSL) Internet service is available to an estimated 62 million homes, and FiOS fiber-optic services are available to an estimated 41 million people. Here's a table of Verizon's Internet service plans, speeds, prices and primary service regions:
|Speeds (In Mb/s)||Prices (Per Month, Non Promotional)||Primary Service Regions||Technology|
|1, 3, 7, 15,||$15, $30, $30, $30||CA, CT, DE, DC, FL, IN, MA, MD, NJ, NY, NC, PA, RI, TX, VA||DSL|
|50, 100, 150, 300, 500||$55, $65, $75, $175, $275||CA, CT, DE, DC, FL, IN, MA, MD, NJ, NY, PA, RI, TX, VA||Fiber-Optic Internet|
Although DSL pricing falls in the middle of the road, Verizon no longer sells individual DSL service packages; they can only be purchased along with a landline phone service. In addition, the company no longer sells fixed-speed DSL plans above 1 Mb/s. The $30-per-month plans (up to 3, 7 and 15 Mb/s) are not guaranteed to be available, and your top speed depends on the strength and condition of the local network. Performance and top speeds naturally vary by region, and it's more or less the luck of the draw for DSL connections from Verizon.