As most of you know, we are big fans of Verizon FiOS here at Gear Live. The actual Internet and television services are stellar, and it’s pretty hard to find fault with things, especially since downtime is almost nonexistent. Sure, we’ve had our issues, but those are all fixed, and at this point it is pretty much smooth sailing.
Today we were inviting to a media briefing at the main hub in Everett, WA, to get a look at some of the current and upcoming features of the Verizon FiOS TV service. We were able to sit down with Eric Rabe, Senior VP of Media Relations for Verizon to get the full scoop. Of course, being who we are, we had to make sure we got questions answered about FiOS Internet and phone services as well, just to be thorough. We will just go through these in no particular order - some of this you already know, while other parts are definitely new:
HD Content: FiOS TV is completely uncompressed through Verizon. They get the signal, and pass it straight through to the subscribers box the way they received it from one of two providers (depending on where you are located.) Every market has a minimum of 100 dedicated HD channels. The caveat here (and it’s a small one) is that the cable box does not have a mode that simply passes through the content to your receiver or television the way it comes in. This means you have to set the FiOS TV cable box to display either 1080i or 720p, and it will either up-convert or down-convert depending on what you choose. I let them know it would be nice to have boxes that just passed through the resolution without any conversion taking place. Of course, if you have a TiVo Series3 or TiVo HD with a FiOS CableCARD, you don’t have this issue.
I also asked about 1080p content, since satellite is currently offering HD content in 1080p. Unfortunately, their answer is that they are a couple of software revisions away from being able to offer that, so no timeline there.
Cablevision has announced that they will be offering the fastest Internet connection ever. Beginning May 11, the plans have download speeds of up to 101 Mbps and upload speeds of 15 Mbps at a price of $54.90 to $64.90 per month. That equals out to an HD movie in only 10 minutes. It will also be making its WiFi Internet service faster by 3 Mbps at no extra charge. Rumor has it that they are competing against Verizon, which will is offering its FiOs 50 Mbps for $89.95 in NY.
Read More | Newsday
Writer David Weinberger payed attention to a pamphlet he received from Verizon that informed him that he has only 45 days to opt out of allowing the company to share his personal information. That would include “information created by virtue of your relationship with Verizon Wireless,” including “services purchased including specific calls you make and receive, billing info, technical info and location info.” They promise to only share this with “affiliates, agents and parent companies.”
You might want to check your latest accompanying paperwork from the company and call 1-800-333-9956 or check your status online. After being put on hold for doing just that, David was told to go to the My Profile tab in My Verizon, click Phone controls, and he would find the link.
Read More | JOHO
Verizon is offering their line of Blackberrys as a super Valentine’s Day gift. You can get up to three 8130 Pearls for free. A buy one get one free applies to their other models. That includes the Curve and 8703e for $79.00, the World Edition at a price of $99.99, and the Storm which will set you back $199.99. The deal is good while supplies last online, and each of them comes with a 2 year contract per phone.
Read More | Verizon
We know a lot of you guys have been waiting for this one, so it brings us joy to share with you that Slacker Internet Radio has finally come to the BlackBerry Storm. We’ve proclaimed our love for Slacker in the past, and we’ve been enjoying it ourselves on the iPhone. This is good news to lovers of Internet radio, who also just happen to rock the Storm. You can grab it by firing up your web browser on the phone, and heading over to slacker.com. We’ve got the full release after the break for you. Also, be on the lookout, we are going to be giving away 10 Slacker Radio Plus subscriptions later today - stay tuned.
Barack Obama continues to reach the hearts of minds of the nation’s younger citizens, and you just have to look at the way technology is being used as proof. My pal John Czwartacki from Verizon just shared an interesting piece of info - Verizon Wireless DC customers sent and received 2.9 million SMS messages between the hours of 10:00 am and 2:00 pm yesterday, during the inauguration. That’s a lot of tap-typing. To give an idea of reference, that is more than three times the number os texts sent last week during the same four hour timeframe.
Read More | CZ
We don’t know where you are, but here we are in the negative numbers when it comes to outside temperature. Verizon has offered some helpful cell phone tips. The cold can run down your battery quicker, so recharge often. Because the display cover can actually become brittle, they suggest you keep it in an inside pocket so it will receive your body warmth (or get it a fuzzy cover.) Check your signal strength to determine where it is the strongest during a normal day. Finally, keep a list of emergency numbers in your address book such as police, fire, rescue agencies, and schools to check for closings.
Read More | Netscape
Verizon Wireless is taking a stand - in the race to deploy 4G LTE mobile broadband service, they don’t want to come in second to AT&T or Japan’s NTT DoCoMo, the latter of which said it would offer such a network commercially in 2010. According to executive vice president and chief technology officer of Verizon Communications, Dick Lynch, they plan to begin rolling the enhanced network capabilities out by about this time next year, ahead of the original 2010 timetable.
The original plan called for initial rollouts in 2010, with a wide commercial launch in 2011 and true mass availability coming shortly after. But according to an IDC analyst, Verizon’s new, more aggressive deployment schedule was likely inspired by the threat of launching after another company. Verizon wants to be first! Can you blame them? They don’t have the iPhone...
If you’re wondering what LTE is, it’s a fourth-generation wireless data system expected to be the next step up in speed and capacity for carriers using the GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) platform, which is dominant in most of the world. Like Sprint Nextel’s already deployed (in one city) WiMax, it should deliver multiple megabits per second of throughput.
After introducing LTE, Verizon plans to offer subscribers small in-home base stations known as femtocells, which will extend the signal indoors - likely including built-in Wi-Fi, which will allow newer personal electronics such as cameras to automatically exchange information over the air. Imagine getting home from a trip and having your pictures automatically upload to the internet once you walk through the door. This may be a reality sooner than you think.
Read More | Yahoo!
So you don’t have an iPhone or other web-enabled phone, you’re away from your computer and you’re tired of shelling out your precious greenbacks for 411 services; is there any other option? Well, you could just keep on calling 411, the phone companies love it when you do that – a quick check reveals that Verizon charges $1.49 per call and both AT&T and Sprint charge a piggy bank busting $1.79 per call – or you could give Google or Microsoft a call, they’ll take care of you for free. Google’s service, “GOOG-411” can be accessed by calling 1-800-GOOG-411, while Microsoft’s “Live Search 411” can be accessed by calling 1-800-CALL-411.
Both systems use voice recognition technology (you won’t be able to speak with a real human) to provide directions to and phone numbers of millions of destinations across the United States and Canada, connecting you to your destination and sending you a text message containing the requested information if you so desire.
Which service is right for you? You’ll have to try them both out and decide for yourself. I surprised myself by choosing the Microsoft service as my favorite. Stranger things have happened…
Check out the video (up top) for an introduction to the Google service.
If you’ve followed us for any amount of time, then you’d be familiar with our gadget and tech video show, Bleeding Edge TV. You can find it here on Gear Live, on YouTube, on Blip.tv, and a bunch of other places on the interwebs. However, today we are happy to tell you that if you are a FiOS TV subscriber, you can catch the show there as well, on demand. To check it out, just pull up On Demand, and go into The Cutting Edge category. From there, choose Blip.tv, and you’ll find us (along with other top Blip-hosted programming). Expect to see our other show, Unboxing Live up there shortly as well.
For those of you on other cable systems, no worries - we are working hard to bring our content to your cable boxes as well. In the meantime, the Internet will have to do.
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