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Getting the most speed out of Verizon FIOS

Pete Brown - 22 March 2010

Earlier this year, I upgraded my Verizon 15/5 business-class FIOS to 35/35. While I had awesome downstream results, my upstream always hovered around 6-10. I run my web server out of my house, and also do a lot of VPN work with Microsoft, so upstream is really important.

I first called Verizon support, and got annoyed at the wait. I tweeted something, and a Verizon tech contacted me on twitter (Sweet!). Verizon required me to run their optimizer (search for verizon fios optimizer and it'll come up). I was nervous about running it as no one could tell me exactly what it changes. My experience with changes from broadband providers in the past has not been great, as they assume all you use your PC for is to directly connect to their broadband service. I finally caved and ran it anyway. Unfortunately, the upstream increase was only 1 or 2 megabits; certainly not the 25-29 increase I was expecting to see.

After some attempts with the first-level tech, she DM'd me (which I got at the airport on my phone) and asked for my phone number so she could talk with me. I was on the BWI bus from the airport to the parking garage a few minutes later when she called and arranged for a tech visit.

Tech Visit

The Verizon tech visited me today for a service call on this issue. His first step was to have me run a Verizon speed test, and then run the optimizer. Once I showed him that was done, he immediately ran a tool he relies on: SG TCP Optimizer. While it says it's for Windows XP, it worked fine on my 32 and 64 bit Windows 7 machines.


When you run this tool, select the highest possible connection speed that is still equal to or less than your required speed. In this case, I have 35/35 service, so I chose the 20,000k (roughly 19mbps) option.

On one machine, that still didn't fix my upload speed. For that, I ran a second utility on the download page: the Vista TCP/IP patch (yes, I'm on Windows 7, but it still worked). That's just a command file that makes a bunch of network updates. On the machine on which I ran that, it got me up to 29/33, not perfect, but pretty good.

Here's a table of what was required for each machine I optimized. (I didn't optimize Melissa's laptop, the kid's game laptop, my database server, mail server, or cnc machine)

Machine Verizon Optimizer SG TCP Optimizer Vista TCP/IP "Patch" Result
Dell 64bit Win7 Desktop Y Y N 36/35
Dell 64bit Win7 Tablet Y Y Y 33/7 * 33/36
Home-built 32bit Win7 Desktop Y Y Y 29/35 *
IBM 345 Win2k8 Web Server N ** Y N 35/35


* The two machines that required the Vista "patch" both had issues with the Verizon speed optimizer. Both installed and ran it, but the optimization was not detected by the speed test. However, if I tried to run the optimizer again, it said it was already run. I ran as admin as required, but no go. Strange. My dell tablet still needs work, as it isn't hitting the speed it needs to. I have no idea why that's the stubborn one, but it's also the only machine I tried which also has a wireless connection.

[UPDATE: I again ran the SG Optimizer on the tablet, but this time, did not check the option to modify all adapters (thinking the wireless connection may throw it off). Rebooted again, and now it gets 33/36]

** Which is good, as I couldn't get it to run on that machine due to prohibitions on ActiveX controls in the browser. Even running IE as admin, putting the Verizon site in the trusted zone, and turning off the locked-down mode wouldn't let me do it.


At least for the higher network speeds, the Verizon optimizer alone doesn't cut it. Unfortunately, the first-level techs aren't supplied with the information required to help you move beyond that (they do a remote test, tell you to run the optimizer, and then schedule a service call if that fails)

So, before calling that tech to your door, run the utilities above and see if they'll do it. If not, check around a bit on the forums to see if anyone else has similar issues. After that, arrange for a tech, as it is usually not an issue with the ONT, but is an issue with the PC config.

posted by Pete Brown on Monday, March 22, 2010
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6 comments for “Getting the most speed out of Verizon FIOS”

  1. Anderson Imessays:
    This is a really great article, thanks for posting it! I guess my question is why does a modern computer need software patching to get it up to snuff with relatively high, but still reasonable speeds? Very strange.
  2. dennysays:
    why the tweaks for FIOS
    While i am not a Verizon Tech I think i have at least part of the answer...

    FiOS is not standard ethernet
    i am not sure if they are using fiber based on ATM but they do run all the internal fiber for telephone traffic on ATM.

    thing is the fiber node has to translate the data from the fiber network format to etherernet and the reverse going out.

    I belive this creates some issues where windows tcp (or any normal tcp stack) thinks the speed of the link is different than when it really is. so i think they are adjusting settings to get the pc happy with the way the fiber to ether transaltion works out.
  3. Bobsays:
    Typically, the issue is TCP window size (and for upstream transmission, limits on memory allocation for buffers for the transmit socket). There are a number of papers published on this. One that is frequently cited is here: http://www.psc.edu/networking/projects/tcptune/

    MS's coverage of network tuning:

    Also, MS found that Vista auto-tuning (which turned on time-stamps and large-window negotiation by default) broke some brain-dead junk residential firewall/router units. http://support.microsoft.com/kb/934430
    In typical MS fashion, they released some sort of patch to IE8 that TURNED OFF the use of auto-tuning for browser sessions. (So IE8 performed poorly on vista.) I do not know the current status of IE8 on Vista.

    In the SG TCP screen-capture (shown in the article), the check-box for changing MTU is only required if you're using the old BPON equipment (with pppoe encapsulation). Newer regions use GPON, which can run native 1500byte MTU. (Maybe VZ will even support jumbo packets one day?)

    For those who care about speed, evaluate your use of wireless. Standard 802.11a/g limit actual tcp throughput to around half of the modulator rate (26Mbps). ALSO, that assumes you have IDEA RF conditions (very high signal strength, no interference) and no competing traffic sources. You'd need to go to 802.11n (with good RF conditions, etc) to get full 35 (or higher) transmission rates.

    If VZ gets off their ass and gives us a 100/100 (or faster) tier then you'll need (at least) two-stream (300Mbps) 802.11N.

    For info on 802.11n equipment see: http://www.wi-fi.org/search_products.php?advanced=1&en (restrict to 802.11n, hit submit, then for units of interest, click on "view wifi certifications" icons on the right; in the top-left corner of the presented document it shows how many streams are supported by the device.) The Wi-fi.org folks say they will update the search function to include NumberOfStreams at a future date (I already complained to them...).

    Finally, I have not had good luck with MoCA. My initial installation delivered only 30 to 40Mbps downstream, and performance was erratic. I had them switch me over to CAT-6 (from ONT to router) and performance immediately changed to a consistent 51.8Mbps. We never investigated further to determine why the MoCA installation was no good. (New installation, very short coax runs?!?) Cat-6 is a sure-thing.

    Wonder how VZ will give us our GigE service (like consumers get in Japan). The ONT they gave me appears to only support Fast Ethernet. I'm sure VZ will be reluctant to fork-lift field equipment...

  4. Stevesays:
    Thanks for posting this article, I have been trying alot of different procedures to get my upload speed higher than 10Mbs, this was the only thing that made a difference. I am running 32 bit Vista, with 35/35 now. I also had to run all three tweeks in order to get it right. One thing that was a little tricky is getting the Verizon optimizer to run, I had to turn off windows firewall and run IE as an administrator, also had to find an older link to the optimizer as the new one detects your system as Vista and redirects you to their home page. All is good now.
    Thanks again!
  5. Scott Kempsays:
    Hi Pete!

    Never heard of you before until I couldn't get the Verizon Fios Speed Optimizer to work even after:
    (1) Running Explorer as Admin
    (2) Disabling all firewalls
    (3) Disabling all security for Explorer
    (4) Clicking yes to install this program as it was "safe" to me

    But, I got an error message saying "IE add-on security will not allow this program to run", anyways, the Fios tech that was just at the house and the Fios tech support had no answers for me because of Windows 7! Without your article I would still be running at 11Mbs/sec and now I'm at least around 17 down and 12 up (this is wirelessly) and we pay for 25/25. There's something for mac called Apple broadband tuner I used on my Mac and it didn't really help. I have a toshiba with an i3, and am upgrading to an Asus 2nd generation i5 6Gb RAM because that was my 1st Apple computer and MY LAST! It sucked so bad!

    So hello again PC!

    You're a life saver pete, any thoughts on that HAWKING HSB2 Hi-Gain WiFi Signal Booster ?

    Thanks Again! Your genius bud!

    Scott Kemp

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