Verizon FiOS to Offer Equal Upload and Download Speeds

With FiOS subscriber growth rates slowing, Verizon said it will offer equal upload and download speeds at no extra cost.

Verizon FiOS

Verizon has announced an improvement to its FiOS wireline broadband service. Starting July 21, new and existing customers can begin to expect upload speeds on par with their download speeds, at no additional cost.

Previously, it was typical for upload speeds to be, at best, half as fast as download speeds. FiOS customers paying for download speeds of 500M bps, for example, were promised 100M-bps upload speeds; those with 75M-bps downloads, saw 35-Mbps uploads.

Download rates have long been the more focused-on number. But as more people share more digital content and are more social online—real-time gaming and the quality of video chat, for example, will both be improved with increased upload speeds—that uneven expectation is changing.

"All Internet sharing—whether videos, large photo files or gaming—starts with upload," Mike Ritter, Verizon's chief marketing officer for consumer and mass busuiness, said in a statement.

Equal download and upload speeds offer a chance to "enhance" customers' Internet experience, Ritter continued. He added, "As the Internet of things becomes a reality, equal download and upload speeds will become essential.

Verizon offers six speed options (now easier and more attractive to advertise, since they match), ranging from 25M bps to 500M bps.

At 25M bps, for example, a person can upload or download 10 songs (or approximately 50MB of data) in 16 seconds. At 75M bps, the wait is reduced to 5.33 seconds, and at 500M bps, it takes less than 1 second.

At the same respective rates, a two-hour HD video (5GB of data) can be uploaded or downloaded in 27.30 minutes, 9.10 minutes or 1.36 minutes.

Verizon expects that once the service is phased in "throughout the coming months," more than 95 percent of existing customers will experience equal upload and download speeds.

Moving Faster to Compete

FiOS has for some time been a bright spot on the Verizon earnings statement, but subscriber growth rates have begun to slow. During the first quarter of 2013, the company added 188,000 FiOS Internet customers and 169,000 net video customers. By contrast, during the first quarter of this year, Verizon added 98,000 Internet customers and 57,000 video customers.

During both quarters, however, year-over-year revenue growth was between 15 and 16 percent.

Verizon's need to more effectively attract new customers comes at time of major changes for the industries it competes in. Cable providers Comcast and Time Warner Cable have proposed a merger; AT&T wants to likewise join up with pay-TV provider DirecTV; Google has begun laying fiber to offer high-speed Internet and television services; and AT&T has been expanding its fiber market.

In its announcement, Verizon added that customers who don't want to wait for the upgrade to reach them automatically can sign up for equal-rate speeds through its My Rewards+ loyalty program.

Verizon will announce the results of its 2014 second quarter July 22.

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