Verizon (Re)Bundles Up FiOS for Winter

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Looks like Verizon will be packing more HD channels and more bandwidth into FiOS bundles in the new year — and it will be charging more, too.

Someone on DSLReports.com’s discussion boards dug up a document produced for Verizon sales reps outlining FiOS bundle pricing plans for 2010, apparently effective Jan. 17. (Verizon declined to verify the authenticity of the document or its contents.)

It’s difficult to interpret the new pricing schemes as rate hikes per se. That’s because the new bundles are slightly different from existing FiOS offers, and the sales sheet for 2010 indicates the new rates won’t apply to existing customers (not yet anyway — after previously leaving pricing for the legacy Premier tier where it was in 2008, the telco kicked it up in October by $10 per month: see Verizon Hikes Rates On FiOS TV ‘Premier’ Package).

For example, the current triple-play with the Extreme HD tier (320 channels, 65 HD), 25 Mbps down / 15 up broadband and Freedom Essentials calling plan is $119.99 per month. In 2010, that package will be $124.99 — but it will include 25 Mbps upstream. “Pay more, get more” is how you can expect the telco to position that change.

More interesting to me is that the middle (”better”) and top (”best”) FiOS bundles will each include symmetrical bandwidth speeds: 25/25 Mbps and 35/35 Mbps, respectively.

That’s after Verizon this past summer phased out symmetrical-bandwidth tiers because most customers apparently didn’t want or need that much upstream capacity (see Verizon Eliminates Symmetrical FiOS Internet Tier). In 2010, the telco will be stressing the upstream speeds vs. cable as indicated by the cheat-sheet comparison in the document with 2-Mbps cable modem upstream. “Only Verizon delivers two-way fast Internet!” the document touts.

Also worth noting: Verizon will introduce a new Ultimate HD tier, with 385+ channels and 90+ in HD including Epix (in the New York area, 475+ total and 125+ in HD, including Epix, HBO, Cinemax, and additional movie channels). And it’s adding the entry-level Prime HD tier with “40+ HD channels” (but not in the NY market) whereas the current starter tier, Essentials, offers only local broadcast channels in HD.

Meanwhile, Verizon supposedly will levy early termination fees of up to $360 on FiOS bundle subscribers, according to DSLReports.com, though the ETF is “pro-rated” to decrease every month you’re under contract and there’s no penalty for downgrading into a lower-tier bundle. You can practically hear some cable operators (ahem, Cablevision) rubbing their hands with glee about this one.

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