Sunday, March 2, 2008

FIOS install

Got FIOS everything (TV, internet, phone) installed at the new place on Friday. I've had some friends do "custom" installs, so I figured it wouldn't be a problem. The Verizon pre-install guy called me a week before, and asked if I had any special requests for the location of the box. I really want my ONT in the furnace room in my basement- it's the best place for central wiring, and doesn't require stapling a bunch of crap to the outside of the house. Unfortunately, the furnace room is basically under the garage, and the fiber was on the wrong side of the driveway to get there. I didn't really want them tunneling under the driveway, nor did I want the fiber entry on the front of the house. So, I had the fiber crew leave about 60' of extra fiber on the side of the house to accomodate my special placement (which they did- great!). Then I'd just need to bust a few small holes in the basement ceiling to help get the fiber fished over to the soon-to-be network closet.

Fast-forward to Friday morning- installer dude shows up and is kinda grumbly ("What the hell did they leave all this extra fiber for? That's not gonna fit in my box!"). Side note- he was also a Verizon contractor. All my other friends that have gotten FIOS have had genuine Verizon installers. Cue "uneasy feeling in pit of stomach". I told him this would probably be the easiest job he'd done in awhile- all we had to do was fish the fiber, hook up and test the ONT, and we're done. I would handle all interior wiring from there. His response: "I'm not allowed to fish, and I have to hook up to the existing wiring and test all the outlets. Besides, you'd probably break the fiber trying to fish it through there." Further sinking feeling ensues- all the other service demarcs are on the other end of the house by the garage. That means a lot of cables stapled to the side of the house- NOOO!

Luckily, he couldn't find a suitable place to stick the ONT and power connections anyway (the garage is best, but the fiber's not handy there), so he started to warm to my ideas. Next, he said he'd have to run all the fiber through conduit, and that I'd have to bust up the entire 50' section of ceiling from the side of the house to the furnace room. Uhh, not happening. Couple more minutes of arguing, and I get him to concede that it doesn't need to be in conduit if it's in the ceiling. So I started busting little holes, and we started stringing fiber with some Fish Stix that he had in his truck. Side note #2: if you're not allowed to fish fiber, why do you have Fish Stix?

Once we started getting the fiber running in the right direction, installer dude's attitude improved dramatically. We started chatting more casually, and had some high-fives when the fiber hit it's destination. He had the ONT on the wall in a matter of minutes, and all was looking good until ... "I think we broke it". Aww, crap.

Apparently fiber installers have something similar to the tone generator used by wired network installers to locate a particular node. It's basically just a light they attach to the end of the fiber, then go look for the light over at the hub. If there's no light, there's a break in the fiber somewhere, and a splice has to be made by a Verizon tech before the break (which would likely be in my ceiling somewhere, since it worked before going in). Not good, since we're doing a forbidden install here- don't want the installer to get in trouble, and also don't want crap on the side of my house!

Installer dude came back and said, "It's broken- tear it all out". Double crap. Then, "Just kidding- they gave me the wrong port number at the hub. It's all working fine". Yes! He had everything hooked up and working in a few minutes.

I was told at order time that there were no HD DVRs available, and would have to live a few months with SD DVR service (all the while polling customer service for boxes- there was no "I want HD, call me when available" procedure). Installer dude just happened to have an HD DVR box on the truck. Did I want it? Heh. Is a bear Catholic? This dude's getting a good tip.

So, everything's installed exactly as I want, and bonus, I got HD DVR service months before I expected it. I haven't spent much time playing with it (and what little I have was on a 20" TV- I haven't moved the beast over yet), but the FIOS TV UI kicks the ever-loving crap out Comcast's. It's cool to see, because FIOS TV uses pretty much exactly the same hardware as the Comcast DVR boxes- that really mean's there's no excuse for Comcast's lame ad-ridden UI beyond corporate greed. Time to get back on the ball Comcast- Verizon's gonna eat your lunch with FIOS TV just like you ate theirs when cable modem squashed DSL.

Ahh, fiber-y goodness. Can't wait to enjoy it on a daily basis- we'll see how much I miss running my own webserver. Cheers, installer guy Steve- enjoy the tip, and cut the next guy some slack when he's got a plan.

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