TV fans have a growing number of options when it comes to choosing a television service provider. People can now choose over-the-air, cable or satellite, and now even telephone companies are branching out to offer TV service. One of those is Verizon's FiOS (Fiber Optics), which is similar to cable TV in many respects except for the technology involved. Comcast is one of the leading cable providers in the nation today; if you live in an area where both Comcast and FiOS are available, there are plenty of similarities between the two, but a few differences as well.
Price is the first factor many people look at with TV service providers. Both Comcast Cable and FiOS offer different plans with the prices based on the number of channels and features ordered. Comcast has the lower price for its basic package at $16.50 (round figures) per month for over 50 channels. It has a handful of other packages from $56 to $128 a month (after lower rates for a 6- or 12-month introductory period). FiOS has two main packages: $48 a month for over 250 channels and $58 a month to add up to 41 more high-definition (HD) channels and 30 other channels.
Both Verizon's FiOS and Comcast Cable offer their television packages in a bundle with home phone and Internet service that can save money compared to ordering each separately. FiOS bundles all three for as low as $80 a month, though that jumps to $110 a month after the first 6 months. Comcast's bundles start at $115 a month for the first 12 months for all three services, with larger packages up to $180 a month
The fiber-optic technology used with FiOS allows it to carry a slightly larger number of channels than standard cable, with their programming packages carrying over 250 channels, compared to the 150 plus for Comcast's larger packages. Both services also offer premium channels including HBO and Showtime, and while local channels come standard with Comcast, FiOS charges an extra $13 a month for those channels.
Both companies also offer HD channels for customers with an HDTV, though Comcast's website notes that HD programming is not currently available in all areas they serve. In areas where they do, Comcast offers over 40 HD channels to add to their programming packages, while FiOS includes the HD channels with their packages, with either 14 or 65 channels depending on the plan chosen.
The equipment used by Comcast and FiOS is quite similar, other than the different technology used to bring the signal into the home. Both offer a set-top receiver box (necessary to view the majority of channels and features) with remote control and an optional digital video recorder (DVR) for an extra fee. Comcast's boxes range from just over $3 a month for the SD receiver to $16 a month for the HD DVR, while FiOS' range from $6 a month to $20 for the HD DVR that can be viewed from any TV in the home.
Comcast Cable is available in various parts of the United States, and as of mid-2009, they currently serve over 24 million customers. Verizon's FiOS TV is currently in much more limited areas with just over two million subscribers of the 13 million who potentially could receive the service.