FiOS Installation Guide for the Fastidious

This is an overview and checklist for those who are particular about their house and LAN and want some control over an upcoming Verizon FiOS installation. Glance through this guide if you are particular about what gets bolted onto your home and installed on your network. If you think you might need to customize your LAN after FiOS is installed, this guide is also for you.


  • ONT – optical network terminal. A “very small” (not!) box that is bolted onto your wall. Verizon’s fiber-optic cable goes in (terminates) and your premises wiring (phone, TV, Internet) comes out.
  • STB – set-top box. Decoder that sits on your TV. Unlike cable TV broadband Internet, FiOS STBs also connect to your LAN as DHCP clients.
  • MoCA – the Multimedia over Coax Alliance. Used as an adjective (as in a “MoCA router”) it means using cable TV wire as LAN cabling instead of normal twisted-pair (i.e. Cat 5e) cable.  Both Verizon-supplied Actiontec MI424WR and Westell 9100EM routers are MoCA and Ethernet capable.
  • SOHO – small office/home office. My FiOS installation supports a home office with five computers and several networked peripherals. This installation guide is written with the SOHO user in mind.

Verizon FiOS Installation Guide

Step 1 – Ordering:

Placing your FiOS order will of course cover choice of services, what channels are included, pricing, and special offers. Here are additional items to consider beyond the “default” ordering session:

  • ONT Location – learn whether you’re getting an aerial or underground fiber-optic cable drop. It’s one or the other — I haven’t heard of anyone who had a choice. For aerial drops, the default ONT location is adjacent to your electrical utility feed. If you want your ONT elsewhere (mine is in the basement), have this noted on the order configuration, even though this is only a “suggestion” to Verizon and not a commitment.
  • Appointment Dates – FiOS installation is done in two steps: the drop and the interior equipment and cabling. The interior installation date is the one that is used to qualify the limited time offers (e.g. “Free DVR. Must order by 1 Jan, install by 30 March”). If the order-by date is at hand but you need time to prepare your house, push out the installation date.
  • Activate Additional TV Coax Lines – my service representative suggested activating all existing cable runs in the house even though we had only one television. Verizon will activate up to six during initial FiOS installation, if you specify this number when placing the order.  When a TV is added in the future, Verizon just sends out an STB which is connected to an activated coaxial cable (no installation fee).
  • Ethernet Cable from ONT to Internet Router (non-TV installations only) – all FiOS Internet installations come with a Verizon-proprietary MoCA Internet router which they connect to the ONT using RG-06 (TV) coaxial cable. If you’ve also signed up for FiOS TV, this is the only installation method possible. But non-TV, non-apartment subscribers can opt for Ethernet cabling between ONT and router. This makes it possible to switch to your own router in the future. Have this request added to the order configuration (again, this is only a suggestion to Verizon).
  • Sign-up Offer – save whatever “special offer” literature you signed up with. You’ll need it to compare against your first and second bills to help determine if the proper pricing has been applied.

Step 2 – Preparation and Fiber-optic Drop:

If you’ve decided on one or more of the non-standard items listed in step 1, here are the actions you must take between placing the order and your installation date:

  • Non-standard ONT Location – if you want your FiOS ONT in a specific location. provide a sturdy 24″ x 12″ mounting surface (wood or drywall) for the ONT and its power supply (12″ x 18″ for the ONT and 12″ x 12″ for the power supply, if not co-located). Both the ONT and power supply are supposed to be within 10 feet of a grounded outlet. The power supply’s cord is only 10 feet long, so this is a hard limit.
  • Fiber-optic Drop – non-standard ONT locations are often far away from the point on the house where the fiber-optic drop is attached. If so, you must get a longer fiber-optic cable installed. If the equipment installer comes out and finds that the cable is too short to reach your planned ONT location, you’re in trouble. And you can’t schedule aerial drop installs — the guy just shows up. You either have to catch him, or try leaving notes posted where the phone and cable TV wires currently attach to your house.
  • Internet Router Location – as part of the standard new FiOS installation package, Verizon will run coaxial cable from the ONT to any router location you desire. The cable pathway is the installer’s choice (negotiable) and does not include snaking cable between walls. If you’re very particular about cable runs, consider running RG-06 cable yourself or offering to pay the installer to meet your requirements.
  • Cat 5e Cable Installation – FiOS installation includes running coaxial cable from the ONT to your chosen router location. If you prefer Ethernet cable (for cosmetic reasons or because you plan to substitute your own router for Verizon’s) you must install Cat 5e cable yourself.
  • Sacrificial PC – the installer wants access to a Windows PC to activate your installation, and to install a couple of unconfigurable, undocumented, inscrutable software applications. Those who are particular about what gets installed on your PCs, consider yourselves warned. I rebooted one of my Linux machines back into its Windows XP partition on installation day.

Step 3 – Installation, the Big Day:

All equipment and interior cabling will be installed and made operational today. If all goes well, you’ll be surfing the Internet at blazing-fast speeds before the day is out. Once again, the following items relate to customizing your FiOS installation beyond a standard Verizon FiOS installation:

  • Patience- your installer will arrive expecting a standard installation; special requests written down during the ordering process are rarely passed on to the installer. So explain your mounting and cabling requests anew and don’t blame him/her for not being aware of them.
  • Diplomacy – when ordering, you were the customer and Verizon was the seller. Now the situation is reversed: you may have to “sell” your installer on accommodating your non-standard requests. Verizon FiOS nstallers often are contractors and not Verizon employees. Contractors are paid by the install, not by the hour, and thus may be less-than-thrilled with time consuming special requests. Find out your installer’s situation, pick and choose your battles, and consider appropriate motivational options.
  • Cat 5e from ONT to Router – if you’ve run Cat 5e cable, and if you’re not getting FiOS TV, and if the ONT and router have Ethernet ports, and if the installer knows the procedure, he/she can use your cable instead of running new coax. If you’re not so lucky, you’ll need to do this later yourself.
  • Router Username and Password – Verizon forces these to be set during installation and you cannot leave this step until later. Ask to set them yourself or write them down. Either way, make certain you can successfully log in before the installer leaves.
  • Complete the Installation – this is one of those software applications I mentioned earlier. It enables email accounts and sets up your MyVerizon area at verizon.net. Your installer will either walk you through this, or will leave your PC with a “Resume Verizon FiOS Installation” icon on your desktop.  It will also set the router username and password if this wasn’t done by the installer.
  • User Guides and Manuals – many customers aren’t interested in “reading the manual”, so installers often overlook them. I found 3 manuals and 1 CD going through the boxes in my recycling bin. I was lucky, since some installers leave the boxes in the back of their trucks. If you want yours, tell the installer you want every scrap of paper from every box.

Step 4 – Aftermath:

Congratuations, your new FiOS installation is complete! In between hours of watching TV and surfing the Internet, you can log on to your new Verizon FiOS router and see the following devices on your local LAN:

  • – the Verizon FiOS Actiontec router.
  • – your computer.
  • – your FiOS set-top box (FiOS TV subscribers only).
  • Additional PCs appear at addresses 3-n, additional STBs at 101-n.

Export and save the router configuration, then begin your network configuration (instructions in a future post).

My FiOS Installation and Customization

Read my own saga and see how well I followed my own advice. The following posts also include instructions for customizing the LAN configuration for Actiontec routers:

  • My FiOS Installation.
  • The Actiontec MI424WR-GEN2 Version E Router (to-be-posted).
  • Change the IP address space of a FiOS LAN with STBs from (to-be-posted).

posted in FiOS by Bozzie

5 Comments to "FiOS Installation Guide for the Fastidious"

  1. captainfepa wrote:

    Question – FIOS installation has coax from ONT to centrally located router; used one preinstalled coax. Now thinking to add FIOS TV; they want to add additional ugly coax run. Can that coax be split off at the router to feeds for router and TV, or are these differently processed by the ONT? Also probably have ethernet 5e available same route, but I gather from your description that will not be of advantage when using both Internet & TV.

  2. fred walls wrote:

    I just wanted to let you know that Fios techs are never contractors, and do not get paid by the job.

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  4. steve wrote:

    Hi i have a ? why does verizon put a power source to there outside hub’s,and not to the ont that are in the customer home. And why do they not bring in a full t1 cable to do large apt,condo so that they do no need a mdu in the place

  5. bemis wrote:

    ONT requires a customer provided power source regardless of it’s location (indoor or outdoor). The indoor ones (‘in the customer home”) so require a power supply, it’s just inside of it… the unit plugs into a standard 120V outlet.

    Regarding “t1”, you realize those are 1.5Mbs right? Whatever decision and equipment they are using rest assured it represents the minimum cost to them (both initial and ongoing) to provide you with the service you have ordered.

    Also, around here (New England) the FIOS installers are union members–perhaps this is changing or is different elsewhere, but I have never seen a contractor (like I see for Comcast and other cable providers)

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