Verizon ONT: What It Is & How To Use a Router With It Fios internet

Verizon’s ONT (Optical Network Terminal) is a device that converts fiber optic signals from Verizon to digital signals. This conversion makes it so your home’s devices can understand the fiber transmissions.

I’m a home networking enthusiast who wants to find the best devices. So I’ve compiled user manuals, FAQs, complaints from forums, and everything else that covers Verizon’s Fios box.

To truly understand these devices, you’ll need to know the following information:

Read on to learn more.

What Is a Verizon ONT?

Verizon’s Fios Optical Network Terminal (ONT) acts like a modem for fiber optic internet. It converts fiber’s light signals into digital signals that devices throughout your home (like routers) can comprehend.

It’s a giant black or gray box that you’ll find inside or outside your home. It depends on where Verizon connected the box. But you’ll usually find an ONT in an area that connects your home’s utilities to the outside world.

Without an ONT, Verizon couldn’t deliver fiber optic internet to your home. Because this hardware serves as the backbone of all Fios home internet connections.

Since Verizon Fios doesn’t use a fiber/cable hybrid network, you can’t use regular modems as an alternative to the Optical Network Terminal.

Some homes or apartments will already come with an ONT. You’ll want to check your basement, garage, or outside. I’ll show you the models in a second.

So you’ll know what to look for.

How Does a Verizon ONT Work?

The Verizon Fios ONT will convert signals of laser-generated pulses of light into electrical signals that computers, TVs, phones, and routers can understand.

Verizon Wireless Fios home internet (and TV) will shoot fiber optic signals through strands of glass that are as thin as hair to your home. However, if a router receives these signals, it wouldn’t know what was happening.

Think of an ONT as a translator.

To power your translator, you’ll need to connect a Verizon ONT Power Supply Unit to a regular 12-volt electrical outlet. However, accidents may happen, or you may have a dead outlet.

But Optical Network Terminal manufacturers prepared for that scenario. They created Battery Backup Units (BBU) that you’d connect directly to ONTs. If your ONT loses power, the BBU will power it for up to eight hours.

These units last up to four years and will notify you when they’re due for a replacement. However, it’s not a pleasant notification. It’s a blaring alarm that’ll go off for a few seconds.

You’ll need to contact Verizon Fios customer service for a replacement when that time comes.

Verizon also has an automated BBU troubleshooting tool that may help you find any issues with your BBU.

How do you get Wi-Fi from fiber optic signals?

You’ll connect your router to your ONT with an Ethernet or coaxial cable. The same applies to Verizon supplied and third-party routers. I’ll cover using either router with an ONT in a bit.

But why use a coaxial cable instead of an Ethernet cable? It’s not ideal for internet subscribers, but it makes it so you can also use Fios TV. I’ll cover how to use Ethernet-only connections in a bit.

Verizon Fios ONT Models

The Optical Network Terminal for Fios models you’ll find include:

  • Alcatel I-211M-L
  • Arris 1000 GI4
  • Tellabs 612

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Keep reading to find each device’s specs, who they’re best for, and whatever else you should know.

Alcatel I-211M-L (Nokia ONT)

Here’s some specs I found regarding this ONT:

Size10 x 6 x 1 inches
Supported Downstream2,488 Mbps
Supported Upstream1,244 Mbps
Ethernet PortRJ-45
This table presents information about the Alcatel I-211 M-L ONT.

The Alcatel I-211 M-L ONT is a Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) indoor ONT that supports gigabit internet plans.

It’s also an SFU (Switch Fabric Unit) ONT. That means it has one or four Ethernet interfaces, and internet service providers use it for FTTH (Fiber to the Home) occasions.

In simple terms, it’s a residential ONT. But businesses can use it.

Most Verizon Fios setups will have the 2-11 M-L units.

Nokia acquired Alcatel-Lucent in November 2016. And it appears they made it difficult to find information related to this ONT.

Motorola Arris 1000 GI4 ONT

Here’s what you’ll need to know about the Arris 1000 GI4 ONT:

Supported Downstream2,488 Mbps
Supported Upstream1,244 Mbps
Ethernet PortRJ-45
This table shows all the specs for Verizon’s Arris 1000 GI4 ONT.

The Motorola 1000 GI4 is a GPON and SFU interior ONT unit that’s used in current Verizon Fios deployments.

You won’t see these as much as the Nokia models. And I can’t find much information about them, so I can only assume that they’re larger than the 211 models. Thus, why they’re not used as much.

Tellabs 612 ONT

Here are the specifications for the Tellabs 612 Optical Network Terminal [1]:

Size11 x 11 inches
Weight6.25 lbs
Supported Downstream622 Mbps
Supported Upstream155 Mbps
Ethernet PortOne RJ-45 Port
This table presents specifications for the Tellabs 612 Verizon Fios ONT.

The Tellabs 612 is a Broadband Passive Optical Network (BPON) ONT. BPON ONTs don’t support the highest upload/download speeds. So it won’t work on any of Verizon’s home internet plans.

You likely won’t find this unit anymore. As it’s Verizon’s older ONT model. If you currently have this model, upgrade to a GPON device. It’s much smaller, faster, and doesn’t require a Battery Backup Unit (they’re optional add-ons).

How Do I Install a Fios ONT?

You cannot self-install a Verizon Fios ONT. If you do not already have a Fios ONT in your home or apartment, you will need to schedule an appointment for a Verizon technician to install it.

Installing and terminating fiber optic connections requires specific tools and expertise. It can also prove to be a dangerous task for homeowners and renters because of dealing with electrical connections.

Now you’ll need to schedule your Fios installation.

When signing up for your Verizon services, you will need to schedule a time for a technician to visit your home and install the ONT.

Once that’s planned, you can manage your appointment through your My Verizon Online account or the My Fios mobile app. You can leave notes for the technician, update contact information, and change your appointment time.

It’s helpful if you forget to tell the customer service representative that you have a massive dog the technician should prepare for.

To prepare for your appointment, you’ll want to keep this information in mind:

  • Set aside 4–6 hours of your day for the installation: it could take a while if your technician runs into issues
  • Ensure an 18-year-old is present
  • Check for an available three-pronged plug outlet in your garage or a spot near where utilities enter your home: make sure you don’t have a switch controlling the outlet as mentioned above
  • Prepare a workspace for the technician: clean up around your computer, router, garage, and the area where utilities enter your home

To find where utilities will enter your home, you’ll need to inspect the sides of your home (or outside your garage) for a box where a bunch of wires feed into it. Worst case scenario, you can ask the technician for help when they arrive.

Then you can quickly clear a spot for them.

The Verizon technician will likely install the ONT in the building’s central equipment room for those living in apartments. Talk to your landlord before the installation happens to ensure the installer has no issues accessing the room.

Here’s what the technician will do:

  • Activate your Fios service
  • Install your inside or outside Verizon ONT
  • Install your Battery Backup Unit
  • Install the Power Supply Unit
  • Set up your Wi-Fi
  • Set up Fios TV
  • Connect your router

Verizon doesn’t specify whether its technicians will help set up third-party routers. You can always ask their customer service when setting up an appointment.

The worst they can say is “No.”

Whether that’s the case, I recommend reading the next point to understand what you’ll need to set up your own router with a Fios ONT.

How Do I Use a Router With Fios ONT?

You’ll need to follow these steps to use your own router with Verizon’s Fios ONT:

  1. Buy your new third-party router
  2. Connect your new router
  3. Return your old router

You’ll need to read the following sections to see each step in detail. That way, you ensure you don’t make mistakes.

#1 Buy a New Router

You can rent or buy one of Verizon’s routers. Or you can buy a third-party router that works with Verizon Fios.

Many routers will work for Verizon, but you’ll need to ensure its supported max speeds will work with your Verizon plan. For instance, if you went with the Gigabit Connection plan (940 Mbps download speeds), you shouldn’t get a router that only supports 800 Mbps speeds.

Verizon’s router supports up to 10 Gbps speeds, but costs a lot. $18 per month or $399 upfront. If you intend on staying with Verizon Fios for a LONG time, I recommend just buying the router.

It would take you a little under two years (22 months) to pay it off, but it’ll future-proof your home. And you’ll have Verizon’s customer support with it.

And it surprisingly costs less than other routers of the same caliber. For instance, the ASUS ROG Rapture Wi-Fi 6E Gaming Router costs over $400. But it comes with additional features like triple-level game acceleration.

It lowers ping rates and reduces lag in online games. Saves you from a monthly subscription to services like ExitLag ($70 a year).

Your choice comes down to your activities and the internet plan you get. If you want a router to optimize your gaming, you may want a gamer-centric router.

Meanwhile, those using the 300 Mbps Fios plan will want a lower-priced router that supports at least 300 Mbps speeds.

#2 Connect Your Router

You’ll need to follow different steps when connecting a router to your Verizon ONT depending on whether you also get Verizon Fios TV plans.

First, I’ll cover steps you’ll need to take without Fios TV.

No Fios TV

Follow these steps to connect your third-party router with a Verizon Optical Network Terminal:

  1. Disconnect the Ethernet cable from the WAN port on your current Verizon router
  2. Connect it to your new router where it says ‘Internet’ or ‘WAN’
  3. * Call Verizon at 800-837-4966 and ask them to activate the Ethernet port on your ONT

* Ethernet ports do not come enabled by default on most ONTs. Because Verizon does what it can to discourage customers from using third-party routers.

Your Verizon router may not have an Ethernet port, so you’ll need to run Ethernet cables from your ONT to your router. You can call a technician and have them run an Ethernet cable through your home to your terminal.

If Verizon discourages you from using your own router, don’t fall for their tricks. You bought this router, and you shouldn’t need to get Verizon’s.

Unless you’re due for a new router.

If You Also Have Fios TV

Buy a Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) adapter and follow these steps:

  1. Connect your ONT’s coaxial port to your ONT’s coaxial input with a Coax cable 1
  2. Bridge your router and MoCA adapter with an Ethernet cable using the LAN ports 2

1 The type of coaxial cable you use doesn’t matter

2 When choosing an Ethernet cable, go for Cat 5e cables. They support speeds up to 1,000 Mbps. Any lower category and you may be unable to support the internet speeds you’re paying for.

Using a coaxial cable, you usually have to connect a router and a Verizon ONT. Verizon’s routers come with built-in MoCA coaxial connectors. But not other routers.

To use Verizon routers, just sign in to your My Verizon online account or use the My Fios app and follow the prompts to activate your service.

As for non-Verizon routers:

No third-party routers have MoCA connectivity. That means to use a third-party router, you’ll need to get a MoCA adapter.

In short, a MoCA adapter is hardware that makes it so you can convert coaxial signals into Ethernet signals. Hence, the term ‘adapter.’

It doesn’t matter what MoCA adapter you use. But we recommend the Motorola MM1000. It doesn’t cost much, has a minimalist design, and includes a Point of Entry (PoE) filter.

The filter prevents unauthorized access to your MoCA network. Essential if you value your privacy and don’t want your neighbors snooping on your internet activities.

Don’t want to read through the wall of text I wrote? Here’s a video by a hero who compiled all this information and broke down every step (he also covers connecting to Fios TV):

Fairly easy.

If you also have Fios TV, you’ll need to use a bidirectional coaxial splitter. A coaxial splitter will split the connection running from your ONT to the MoCA adapter and your Verizon TV boxes.

And you’ll need to use a bidirectional splitter to ensure your internet signal flows both ways. Otherwise, you may run into issues when trying to use your MoCA adapter. Also, ensure the adapter is ‘MoCA compatible.’

If you’re shopping online, you’ll usually find ‘MoCA’ in the coaxial splitter’s product name. When shopping in stores, I’d read all the print on the boxes.

You could try asking the staff, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up and assume they know what that means.

#3 Return Your Verizon Router

Return your Verizon router to avoid more charges by following these steps [2]:

  1. Call them at 800-837-4966 and tell them you want to return your router
  2. They’ll ask you to prove it’s your account
  3. They will give you an equipment return label.
  4. * Pack your equipment and take it to a UPS Store

* Ensure you get a receipt when dropping off your equipment. If Verizon still charges you for the device rental fees, you can prove you returned your router.

You can manage and track your return here.

Or you can drop off your equipment at a Fios Store. Not a Verizon Wireless store.

Verizon Router Installation Troubleshooting

The following are ways that you can troubleshoot your ONT box when encountering issues:

  • Fios ONT lights meanings
  • Network outages

The following sections will detail what you’ll need to know about these areas.

Verizon ONT Box Lights

Here are the lights you’ll find on your Fios ONT, what they mean, and what you can do to fix the correlated issue [3]:

PowerSolid: normal
Blinking: running on BBU
Unit: not on
Check Power Supply Unit
BatterySolid: normal
Unlit: malfunctioning battery
Recharge your battery or use the BBU troubleshooting tool
FailUnit: normal
Flashing: passed self-test and not communicating
Solid: self-test failed
Call Verizon customer service
VideoSolid: video power too low
Unlit: normal
Call Verizon
NetworkSolid: normal
Unlit: no network connection
Reboot your ONT or call Verizon
POTSSolid: home phones off the hook
Unlit: normal
Check your home phone connections
OMISolid: normal
Unlit: no available OMI channel
Contact Verizon
LINKSolid: normal 
Blinking: you have Ethernet traffic
Unlit: no Ethernet connection
Check your Ethernet cable for damage
MGMTSolid: Full communication between ONT/OLT
Blinking: ONT disabled
Unlit: no communication between OLT/ONT
Reboot your ONT
MoCASolid: devices registered
Blinking: Data activity
Unlit: No link
Check your MoCA connections or reboot your ONT
Verizon ONT lights, their meanings, and how to troubleshoot issues.

The lights you’ll see on each ONT will differ by model. For instance, on the Nokia Desktop ONT, you’ll see the ‘MGMT’ and ‘MoCA’ lights. Whereas, on the Tellabs model you may not.

Encountering a Network Outage

Check for a Verizon service outage by logging into your My Verizon account.

The page will show you whether an outage is affecting your area. They’ll also show you how long it should take to resolve the outage (just an estimate).

And if you don’t have a ticket to resolve your Verizon outage, you’ll want to contact Verizon by calling 800-837-4966.

Other Troubleshooting Tips

The issue may lie in your router. Reboot your router by unplugging it for at least two minutes, then plugging it back in. Wait for all the lights to turn on before attempting to use your internet.

Manually rebooting it eliminates the potential of software issues interfering with the reboot process. And why does rebooting help in the first place?

Routers store short-term memory (known as cache). And once in a while, they may accidentally store an error. This stored error could cause network interruptions that could lower internet speeds.

You can eliminate this error by wiping your cache, which requires a router reboot.

If your device runs on a Battery Backup Unit and isn’t functioning correctly, you will want to reboot your BBU. Just follow Verizon’s BBU resetting tool.

If none of these troubleshooting steps work, you’ll need to contact Verizon and have them help you with your issue.

FAQ: Verizon ONT

Here are some commonly asked and answered questions about the Verizon Fios ONT.

Will Verizon Upgrade My ONT?

Verizon will upgrade an old ONT for a fee. However, these fees will depend on their current ONT model.

Does Fios Gigabit Require Me To Get a New ONT?

The Verizon Fios Gigabit Connect plan may require you to upgrade to a new ONT model. Whether you’re due for an upgrade depends on the speeds your current model supports.

Wrapping Up

Verizon’s Fios ONT makes it so your home can receive fiber optic signals and convert them into a language your home’s devices can understand. Without it, you can’t use Fios services.

You’ll need a professional installation to set it up. Once set up, you can use your own router. Or get one from Verizon.

If you haven’t gotten a Fios home internet plan, yet, explore the pros and cons of each plan before making a decision.

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