FiOSVerizon said today it will tap into a unique capability of its fiber-to-the-home infrastructure that could provide a significant differentiation point in the competitive home broadband market. The company plans to upgrade the speeds of its FTTH-based FiOS broadband offering so that customers receive the same speed upstream that they do downstream.

This is a capability that cable competitors will have difficulty matching as the DOCSIS infrastructure that those companies use is designed to provide greater speeds downstream than upstream. Traditionally that is the traffic pattern underlying residential broadband services, with end users typically requesting more content from the Internet than they send to it. But as Verizon Chief Marketing Officer for Consumer and Mass Business Mike Ritter noted in Verizon’s announcement today, “faster upload speeds mean better sharing experiences.

“All Internet sharing – whether videos, large photo files or gaming – starts with uploading, … As the Internet of Things becomes a reality, equal download and upload speeds will become essential.”

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Symmetrical FiOS Broadband
Verizon said it plans to upgrade 95% of existing FiOS customersto symmetrical service at no extra charge beginning now and “throughout coming months.” Current FiOS offerings provide speeds between 15 Mbps and 500 Mbps downstream at various price points. Residential customers will receive the upgrades before small business customers but businesses also will receive the upgrade.

Verizon FiOS broadband customers who want to get the upstream speed upgrade as soon as possible can do so by signing up for MyRewards+, a free loyalty program that lets customers earn points for paying bills online, renting or buying videos on demand and other activities. Points can be redeemed for Visa prepaid cards or at Starbucks, L.L. Bean, Panera Bread, Target, Amazon, Dunkin’ Donuts, Staples and other merchants.

New FiOS broadband customers will get symmetrical speeds right away.

Verizon’s release cites research from IDC showing that 20% of U.S. broadband households are Power Users who are frequently online and who upload nearly as much content as they download. IDC forecasts the population of Power User households to increase 60% by 2017, Verizon said.

Verizon’s move comes as cable companies gear up to deploy DOCSIS 3.1, which will boost data rates but which, like previous generations of DOCSIS equipment, is designed to support faster speeds downstream than upstream.

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