I just had FIOS TV installed in Flower Mound... I have had their internet service for a few months, and got a Fedex letter from them right after Jan 1 announcing availability of the TV service. I ordered it and they did the install Friday. Here's some excerpts from a note I wrote to a friend about the experience:
Indeed, it did get installed, although it took them probably four+ hours to do it. Most of that time was dealing with the rats nest of cables in my wiring closet; in the end, they had to disconnect all my additional amplifiers and modulators to get things working. One of the things they said they had to do was hook their special "FIOS firmware" D-Link router back up; I had unhooked it to use my own. The guy claimed the TV requires the special router (I had also read this online). However, he hooked it up downstream from my wireless router, and after changing a couple settings it all works fine, and I use both routers.
The way it connects to everything is IDENTICAL to cable. Basically, at the box on the outside of your house where the fiber arrives, a coax comes out. In my case, they just unconnected the incoming Comcast coax and connected their FIOS coax coming out of their box. Inside the house, basically all their set-yop boxes connect to the various coaxes just as if you had cable. The only weird thing in all this is they add one additional box inside the house (called a "NIM"). It has a coax jack and an ethernet jack. The coax jack must be connected into your cable somehow (via a splitter) and the ethernet jack must be connected to their special D-Link router. This is how the cable boxes talk to the central office for VOD ordering, guide downloads, etc.
One interesting surprise: The cable signal they generate supports analog channels! That is, you can connect cable-ready TV's in your house to the cable w/o set-top boxes and get some channels, just with FIOS. The bad news is, they only give you local channels (including independents). You can see the lineup at http://www22.verizon.com/FiosForHome...exasLineup.pdf ... the channels that can be received w/o a box are the "Basic" channels in the upper left corner. This is better than satellite (which has no analog channels), but worse than cable (which has a bunch, although they're whittling the list down all the time).
As for the service itself: I give it high marks. The quality is MUCH better than satellite (which has obvious compression artifacting), and I think at least as good or better than cable as well (although this is harder to tell w/o a side by side comparison). The channel lineup is comparable to what I get with Comcast today, with maybe a few additions such as Boomerang. The VOD selection seems similar to Comcast, or maybe not quite as much. One thing missing from the Verizon VOD list is Nickelodeon and Cartoon Networks shows. For kids, they just have Disney, and some various educational shows.
The set top box user interface is good. Its definately better than the box I have with Comcast. Changing channels is very quick, for example, and the menuing works well. Yes, the guide stays on your channel when you bring it up!! Plus, you can list all shows on a particular channel, similar to the old StarSight guide (although done a little differently).
The DVR works well also. The two tuners are great! Plus, it has better features than ReplayTV at dealing with conflicts. For example, it has a "priority list" like I use in Beyond TV that lets you specify which shows take priority in case of a conflict. It certainly is more responsive than Replay (ours has slowed to a crawl).
One major lack is there is no commercial skip ability. There are multiple speeds of FF and REV, and there is a "jump back 7 seconds" button. But no jump forwards button. This is hard to get used to after using Replay. It's made worse by the fact that while FF or REV'ing, the box seems less responsive to remote button pushes. This means it's very easy to overshoot your target... maybe they did this on purpose.
The experience was good enough I decided to look at the money picture and see if it would be worth it to switch. Here is what I'm paying Comcast:
Digital Classic Plus Package $14.95 Standard Cable $42.50 Classic Extra $ 5.99 HDTV Box (media room) $ 5.00 Digital Additional Equipment $ 5.08 Total $73.52
Expanded Basic Package $34.95 Standard Set Top Box (3) $11.85 DVR Set Top Box (2) $25.90 Total $72.70
One more interesting thing: the set top boxes that Verizon uses are the latest generation Motorola boxes that feature a networking technology called "MOCA". This is what allows them to communicate over the internet, for example, for guide updates. It also is supposed to allow in-home media networking over coax, similar to what the later generation ReplayTV's can do over ethernet. That is, from another STB you can watch a show recorded on a DVR in another part of your house, no additional wiring needed. This would be awesome, because then all those $3.95 low end STB's could watch content recorded on the DVR in your home. This feature does NOT work now, but I saw a post that claimed Verizon would be enabling it in 2Q2006... we'll see.