Both Time Warner and Verizon promise 50 megabits per second download speeds. Which one is the champ?
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983


Top-tier FiOS provides very fast Internet connection

Nov. 21, 2010

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2010, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2010, The Post-Standard

   Verizon is one of the big players in the Internet Service market in Central New York, competing in many localities against Time Warner's Road Runner service. Both Verizon and Time Warner offer high-speed connections, costing $99.95 a month for Time Warner's fastest service and $144.99 for Verizon's fastest. (Discounts are common, so actual costs may be lower.)
   Both promise 50 megabits per second download speeds. Which one is the champ?
   As I reported earlier this year (at www.technofileonline.com/texts/tec072510.html), Road Runner's fastest service, called Wideband, achieved the claimed speed of 50 Mbs only when it was connecting to servers within Time Warner's own corporate data centers.
   In normal Internet connections, Wideband service hit speed bumps. When I made the kind of connections necessary for normal Web browsing and downloading -- to servers at various locations around the country, for example -- Wideband download speeds slowed to about 25 Mbs.
   Road Runner engineers visited my house after my first review was published to check their equipment and saw the results I was getting. Our conclusion at that time was that traffic on the Internet in general kept speeds down, while traffic to Road Runner's own server had a faster, less congested pathway.
   But my tests of Verizon's top-tier FiOS (fiber optic service) didn't show that kind of slowdown, whether on sites outside or inside Verizon's own servers. Using the same test sites I had used to test Wideband, I found the highest FiOS download speeds were 44,670 mbs, 49.36 mbs and 48.98 mbs, using separate tests. One test result even showed 57.66 mbs, but it might have been a fluke.
   Verizon's top-tier FiOS has a claimed upload speed of 20 Mbs. Tested upload speeds ranged from 9.3 mbs to 17.69 mbs. Wideband's advertised upload speed is only 5 Mbs, giving FiOS a big advantage if you do a lot of uploading.
   Verizon's normal FiOS service, rated at 15 Mbs download and 5 Mbs upload, costs less at $54.99 a month. Time Warner also has cheaper plans for slower service, starting at $39.95 a month. Keep in mind that costs will vary if you choose a bundled plan that includes TV and phone service.
   Finally, I was impressed with the FiOS installation. It was neat and clean and didn't take long. I've always been a fan of Time Warner's customer service, and I hope Verizon's installer was a sign of equally good treatment from Time Warner's competitor. A little competition is a good thing.