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Telecommunications

This fact sheet was compiled by the Communications Advisory Committee after being commissioned by the OPA Board to investigate alternatives to Mediacom cable distribution in Ocean Pines. The information contained here is the result of the committee’s research of available TV services from competitive vendors, such as DirecTV, the Dish Network, and Verizon. Each vendor brings to the table a mix of features, some being advantages and others being disadvantages. Residents interested in exploring an alternative to Mediacom cable service should find many of their initial questions and most of their critical questions answered in this telecommunications fact sheet. However, each resident, having his own particular needs and constraints, must reach his own specific conclusion. This is not a “cookie cutter” solution. The fact sheet is structured in a question and answer (FAQ) format and was updated in January 2011.
What are the individual services offered by each vendor?

DirecTV and the Dish Network both offer tiered TV programming packages including a wide selection of HD channels. In addition to TV, both satellite providers have a partnering agreement with Verizon that can add Internet, land line phone, and wireless phone services to round out a bundled package. Bundled packages are offered with monthly discounts and billed on a single monthly statement.

What is FiOS?

FiOS is an acronym for Fiber Optic System. Verizon uses the term to describe its fiber optic telecommunications infrastructure. This fiber network is presently offered in many areas of the United States. Verizon has attracted consumer and media attention as the first major U.S. telecommunications carrier to offer fiber to the home. Other service providers, such as Mediacom, currently only use fiber on their network backbone and continue to use a copper infrastructure from the backbone to the end user.

Can I get FiOS?

Unfortunately, Ocean Pines will not be seeing the roll out of fiber optics service by Verizon for five or more years. For the interim period, residents will continue to rely on the current provisioning of the Verizon copper wire infrastructure for land line phone and DSL Internet services and their new 4G wireless infrastructure.

What are the Verizon service bundles?

With no FiOS service available in Ocean Pines, Verizon offers a partnering agreement with DirecTV or Dish Network. Under this agreement, either satellite provider offers a customer access to a tiered set of TV packages complemented by Verizon providing the DSL Internet access, land line and/or wireless phone service. The main advantage to this arrangement is that all services are billed on a single monthly statement from Verizon. Ocean Pines residents can contract Verizon Customer Service Support Center (CSSC) in Salisbury or visit the Verizon web page for bundled packages.
They include:
(a) Triple Play – includes Verizon Freedom Value (unlimited phone), Verizon High Speed DSL Internet (1.5 Mbps download speed), and DirecTV or Dish Network tiered packages that can include over 200 standard definition and HDTV channels, a set top box with DVR, 31 premium movie channels, 30 specialty and regional sports networks, and 63 music channels. Verizon tiered package incentives change periodically. Triple Play gives the simplicity of a single point of contact for service. Check Verizon’s web (http://www22.verizon.com/?CMP=KNC-Consumer) for current offerings.
(b) Double Play – includes Verizon Freedom Value or Verizon Freedom Essentials phone service plus Verizon High Speed DSL Internet (1.5 Mbps download speed). There is no TV with this package. Check Verizon’s web (http://www22.verizon.com/?CMP=KNC-Consumer) for current offerings.

What is missing with Verizon?

Since the copper infrastructure in Ocean Pines dates from an era before the demands of digital wideband Internet, Verizon does not budget investment dollars for upgrades and improvements to the in-ground wiring. Consequently, the existing copper lines are maintained and adequate for telephone, fax, and high speed digital (DSL) access to the Internet. This means that the maximum Internet download connectivity speed in Ocean Pines is restricted to 1.5 Mbps even though the vendor may advertise tiered rates of 3 Mbps and 7.1 Mbps.

What are the DirecTV’s service bundles?

DirecTV offers tiered packages of all the major network channels and the conventional cable channels, such as CNN, ESPN, TNT, and CNBC, from their regional beam in standard definition plus over 130 channels in High Definition (1080p) and Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound. The satellite antenna installation is included in each tiered package. Upgrades include the monthly rental of up to four standard definition set top boxes (STBs), up to four HD STBs, or up to four HD STBs with DVD. In addition to the hardware rental, a variety of custom programming options are available such as sport packages (NFL, MLB, NBA), movie channels (HBO, Starz, Showtime), and Video on Demand Pay Per View. Check the DirecTV web at http://www.directstartv.com/directv_programming/directv_compare_packages.html for current offerings. Promotions change every few months.

What are the Dish Network’s service bundles?

The Dish Network offers tiered packages of over 250 channels consisting of all the major network channels and the conventional cable channels from their regional beam plus over 70 of the same channels in High Definition (1080p) and Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound. The satellite antenna installation is included in each tiered package. Package upgrades include the monthly rental of standard definition STBs, HD STBs, or HD STB with DVD. In addition to the hardware rental, a variety of custom programming options are available such as sport packages (Fox Sports, MASN, NFL), movie channels (HBO, Cinemax, Showtime), and Video on Demand Pay Per View. Check the Dish Network web site at http://www.dishnetwork.com/packages/programming/default.aspx for current promotions.

Can an Internet subscriber get more bandwidth?

Mediacom offers three Internet download speeds; 3 Mbps, 8 Mbps, and 20 Mbps. A high speed Internet access of 50 Mbps can be provided for business applications. The service does not require a contract for TV. Verizon High Speed Internet offers three DSL Internet download speeds; 1.5 Mbps, 3 Mbps, and 7.1 Mbps. However, because Ocean Pines residents are more than 8000 feet from the phone company’s Central Office, attenuation of a DSL signal on their unprovisioned copper wire infrastructure limits download speed to only 1.5 Mbps.

I use my cell phone for all my telephone needs. Can I buy just DSL from Verizon, without also paying for phone service?

Verizon does offer “naked” or stand-alone DSL. It’s worth investigating if you’ve outgrown fixed-line phone service. Go to Verizon’s regular page for digital-subscriber-line service(http://www22.verizon.com/residential/highspeedinternet), click on “Plans”, and you’ll see it listed at the right side of the page. You will pay slightly more for the privilege. However, if you are already a Verizon wireless customer, a discount promotional offer is available which reduces the current DLS monthly rate from $39.99 to $17.99.

How can I find out if I have satellite reception?

Verizon and DirecTV have already performed a cursory survey of Ocean Pines neighborhoods. Given your address, your view toward the Southwestern sky may already be known. The Dish Network has not performed a pre-survey. However, when contracting for either satellite service, the vendor will perform a site survey during the installation to ensure adequate field signal strength from the satellites.