Verizon Communications Inc. CEO Lowell McAdam says that the company is not planning to reinstall copper wiring damaged by "superstorm" Sandy but will instead replace the old wireline technology with fiber.
Talking about the effects of the massive storm on its North-Eastern networks at a UBS AG conference in New York City Tuesday morning, McAdam said he didn't have all the data on damage costs yet, but noted that senior Verizon executives are determined to replace damaged copper with fiber in the aftermath of the storm. (See 4G Kills the Copper Plant.)
"Obviously a huge impact; let me say upfront I'm really proud of the way our employees handled this," he said, noting the power-up, Wi-Fi and even warm-up stations that Verizon employees have been deploying in the wider community.
He said that Sandy is a further catalyst to Verizon's already stated plans to start to move away from older copper lines to fiber.
"Where we have damaged copper cable we are not replacing it," McAdam said, noting that its Broad Street plant in NYC is now getting fiber.
Although the perception has been that people are more likely to get dial-tone with a copper phone line, McAdam said that Sandy showed the strength of modern networks. "I think they've seen the resiliency of these networks, when power came back up so did FiOS, same with wireless." (See Sandy: The Case for Better Cell Site Backup?)
Added McAdam: "Now our focus is rolling as many services as we can off of copper and onto FiOS." He suggested that the company's target is getting 200,000 people off the older wireline technology this year.
The reasoning behind the move is simple: Verizon saves money if it has to maintain fewer copper lines over time.
The operator, however, still has to deal with the legal requirements of Carrier of Last Resort (COLR) rules if it wants to truly move away from copper. COLR refers to a 1913 rule that every American household should have access to a phone line.
Early in November, Verizon CFO Fran Shammo said that the operator has already been given relief from a number of states on COLR.
â€” Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile