Verizon to boost Internet speeds for FiOS

Verizon Communications Inc. is boosting Internet speeds in its FiOS service tiers and will double the fastest download speed to 300 megabits a second. The fastest upload jumps to 65 megabits a second from 35 megabits.

Bandwidth-hogging video and the proliferation of home devices is driving Internet consumption, the company said. The faster speeds — which take effect in June — allow the FiOS network to move data more quickly.

The average home now has seven Internet-connected devices using a wired or WiFi Internet connection and by 2015 the average home is projected to have between nine and 15 Internet-connected devices.

In 2005 only 10 percent of Internet traffic consisted of online video. That percentage could be 50 percent in 2012, and 90 percent within a few years, Verizon said. At 300 megabits, a two-hour standard-definition video could be downloaded in 40 seconds, compared with about 13 minutes at the fastest DSL speed of 15 megabits per second.

Comcast Corp.’s fastest speed is 105 megabits per second when downloading and 20 megabits for uploading. It costs about $130 month when purchased in a bundle. Brian Roberts, Comcast chief executive officer, has said the cable company’s network can boost Internet speeds to one gigabit per second.

Verizon said prices for its new speeds will be available in June.

John Schommer, Verizon’s director of product development for broadband and cloud services, said the higher new speeds will be available to the "vast majority" of Verizon customers. Some FiOS customers may need an equipment upgrade.

There is no current plan, Schommer said, to charge extra for heavy Internet users — so-called consumption-based billing. "We don’t have it today. We will always look at it and evaluate it. We are not saying we will never do it," he said.

Philadelphia-based Comcast has said it would charge extra for very heavy Internet users.

Verizon’s FiOS Internet service has about 5 million broadband customers and is a major competitor to Comcast’s Xfinity service, which is the nation’s largest residential broadband service with about 18 million nationwide subscribers.

Xfinity has been taking customers from Verizon’s slower DSL service in areas where Verizon has not built-out the FiOS, or fiber, network. The top Internet speed on Verizon’s DSL service, which is run over copper phone lines, is 15 megabits per second. Verizon is currently upgrading its network in Philadelphia for FiOS and many areas in the suburbs already have FiOS.

Contact Bob Fernandez at 215-854-5897 or bob.fernandez@phillynews.com.