A while ago, Verizon started offering their new Fios – their new fiber-to-the-home service – for less than we had been paying for DSL, so we signed up. The service really is pretty zippy. One one occasion recently I was able to sustain over 600KB/s (4.8Mb/s) for the duration of a 32MB download. However, I quickly noticed that pages were often slow to load because of the time it took to translate host names into IP addresses. Not suprisingly, others have also noticed this deficiency in Verizon’s network. Oddly, their public servers (4.2.2.1 through 4.2.2.5) are pretty well respected and often suggested as an alternative for people who are having problems with other ISPs’ name servers, but those aren’t the ones Verizon tells your computer to use. Well, I can override what Verizon tells my computer – in fact my whole home network – to use. I have in fact done so, and I can report that surfing has improved considerably as a result. I don’t know why Verizon points subscribers’ machines toward servers that significantly degrade those subscribers’ net experience and thus cast their product in a bad light, when they themselves already have far better servers available, but that seems to be what they do.

By the way, for anyone else considering a similar trick: be very careful whose name servers you use. An unscrupulous person could easily set up a name server that would, for example, resolve your online banking system’s host name to an IP address that is actually their own password-stealing machine. Only use name servers that you have very good reason to trust.