Fe, Fi, Fo, Fum, FiOS?

Most TV commercials about anything technical have one of two approaches: the main character is either a super-geek nerd, or a hopelessly confused nitwit. That's why I was shocked, truly shocked, when I saw a recent 60-second Verizon ad for their FiOS service in which the actor portraying the fiber “cable guy” smoothly reels off the technical attributes of the light wavelengths in use (1310, 1490, and 1550), boasts of the signal strength (it's “+20 dB hot”, he says), and concludes by saying “it's true QAM” (and he never spells out what that is, namely, quadrature amplitude modulation). (The commercial is posted online at

I have no personal brief or bias for this fiber-to-the-home, all-in-one service from Verizon, but still, why is this commercial different to me? Because the lead character is neither a geek nor a doofus. Instead, he is both passionate and proud of what he is offering, within the limits of a one-minute spot, of course. He speaks of the fiber-to-the-home service and infrastructure with confidence and assuredness, and that's good. It doesn't matter that the audience has no idea of what the wavelength numbers mean, what a dB is, and what QAM means, his attitude and composition comes through clearly without being overwhelming.

That's a portrayal we see too little of when engineering and technology advances are portrayed. And that's why I applaud Verizon (and their agency) for their commercial, even though I suspect they did not realize how it would appeal to me!

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