Let Your Mouse do the (FiOS) Dialing

Many in Port Washington use Verizon FiOS for entertainment. Did you use your FiOS broadband to see the Netflix Emmy-nominated series, “House of Cards?” It would not have been possible without beefy internet download capability. 

Verizon.com Residential Voice Web Page
There’s generally high satisfaction with Verizon’s fiber optic broadband offering. When sheer speed is considered, it’s sometimes rated as one of the fastest broadband offerings in the United States. We will discuss FiOS broadband speed testing in a later post.

What About FiOS Phone Service?

When consumers sign up for FiOS to get the benefit of the fiber optic connection, some are unclear about Verizon’s FiOS phone service. I will try to clear up a little of that in this post.

In some locations, Verizon continues to offer, when last we checked, a copper non-fiber optic telephone connection. It does not use a digital connection. Rather it uses the same copper wire that our parents used. No, it is not the fastest for internet (that was “DSL” if you’re old enough to remember), but it does have the advantage that it doesn’t require the apparatus to support carrying a voice signal over the Company’s digital network—so-called Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP).  That apparatus requires power. When power goes out, the voice and internet services only work as long as the battery holds up – which is a matter of 4-8 hours according to estimates

There are many features that can be offered on a digital voice signal that are often not available with copper. Many features offered on a digital voice signal are often not available with copper. Regardless, one of those features is not continued service in an extended absence of power. During Hurricane Sandy, Verizon and Cablevision copper wire customers using ordinary unpowered handsets would see their service restored first – once downed wires had been repaired – even if house power had not yet been restored.

Menu Options
How did you end up with Verizon’s Digital Voice? Verizon’s competitively priced packages include only its digital voice option. Verizon will separately sell its copper line service to some residents, but not as part of its heavily promoted bundles.

Dialing “1-5-1-6”

For some users, a nuisance with the residential Verizon digital voice service is that it behaves as though it does not recognize the calling party’s area code – i.e., 516 in our area. Therefore, a call to the Landmark to check on the dates for the next show requires an additional “1516” in front of “7676444” – even if you are calling from the library across the street.

I was not able to find a definitive explanation, but one reason given is the explosion of numbers due to mobile phones. Another explanation is the problem of adjacent areas codes, or “overlap areas,” such as one finds at the border between Nassau and Suffolk, or Nassau and Queens. A person wrote into a Verizon forum that 10-digit dialing has been mandatory in some areas of Texas for more than a decade.

It may also depend on wide area calling pricing. Some local businesses with FiOS do not have to dial “1516-,” but they are charged for some calls made into adjacent area codes. 

In today’s gadget-filled world, you would think it would be possible to program a phone to handle this dialing aberration. Instead, a much more profitable mobile phone market eclipsed old school handset offerings. Try finding a phone that will hold 50 phone numbers like my 1990’s era Nortel.
SIDEBAR An lively debate is underway about Verizon’s plan to use a new wireless service to replace its Sandy-damaged copper infrastructure on Fire Island.

FiOS Voice Pros

Select "Call" to Dial the Landmark via Browser
Here's the payoff. Despite these nuisances, those with routine computer skills and a web browser (via mobile phone, iPad, Chromebook or desktop) can log into a Verizon account, maintain a large phone address book, and dial a phone number from there using just a mouse. It's simple.
  • Create an address book of numbers. No "1" prefix needed.
  • Leave your phone in "hung up" position, or on hook.
  • Select the person you want to call with your mouse.
  • Select “Call.” 
  • With your phone still on hook, wait for the phone to ring. It will ring pretty much immediately. 
  • Pick it up and listen. It’s ringing. Yup. 
  • It’s now dialing the person you selected.
You can do more on the web site, too. Check voice mail. See caller-ID for your missed calls.

Tip  You can initiate calls from anywhere. If you want to dial the doctor’s office so a family member can speak with a provider, instead of painstakingly reading a phone number, you can initiate the call yourself. And you can do it from Milwaukee’s Mitchell Field or the San Diego Zoo  


The web site will time out your session rather rapidly. If you’re going to use this feature often, use a password manager, or periodically hit refresh to keep the session active. 

Verizon offers a desktop application called the Verizon Call Assistant. At one time, it offered additional functions that made it unnecessary to use the web browser version to accomplish certain tasks. Unfortunately, it now appears that support has ended. I was unable to install it under Windows 64-bit 7 or 8.


More computer questions or needs? Write us at Patch PW where some TechnologyHead posts originate, here or online at Krypton Brothers.

Caveat Discussion is for Verizon services in the Long Island New York area, not Verizon's wireless service. Your mileage may vary.

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