Consumer Reports explores pros of fiber optics

A survey by Consumer Reports found that fiber optics have a lot to offer.

Recently, Shalini Bhargava has been getting up to speed on the new all-fiber network she's had installed in her home. It will deliver all of her telecom services including TV, internet and phone.

"I feel good then, if that is the new technology and that is where things are moving. It feels good," she says.

She's not alone. In a survey of some 70,000 readers by the Consumer Reports National Research Center, some of the highest levels of satisfaction were reported by those who got their telecom services from Verizon Fios and AT&T U-Verse, the two phone company services using fiber optics.

"Both companies scored equally high in satisfaction, but Verizon Fios outscored AT&T U-Verse on performance factors like internet speed, call quality and reliability across all three services," said Consumer Report's Roselind Tordesillas.

The fact that Verizon Fios runs fiber cables right to the house may help give it the edge. AT&T U-Verse uses fiber-optic lines up to a neighborhood station, then copper cabling the rest of the way.

"If you don't have fiber all the way to the home, it's like funneling traffic from an interstate highway to a local road. Speed and capacity can suffer," Tordesillas explains.

If you're looking to get your telecom services through a cable company, Consumer Reports says be aware. Most major cable providers got just ho-hum ratings in its survey. If great television service is paramount and you can't get either Fios or U-Verse, Consumer Reports says consider satellite TV. Dish and Direct TV scored above average for sound, channel selection and picture.

Cable, satellite and phone company providers are hot for your business these days, so Consumer Reports says it can pay to bargain for discounts, equipment fee waivers and even free programming.

Consumer Reports is published by Consumers Union. Both Consumer Reports and Consumers Union are not-for-profit organizations that accept no advertising. Neither has any commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site.

(All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2010. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

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