Verizon Swaps Sandy-Ravaged Copper for Fiber

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) 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.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:16:32 PM
re: Verizon Swaps Sandy-Ravaged Copper for Fiber

Do you percieve the storm as showing the strength of modern networks?

shygye75 12/5/2012 | 5:16:30 PM
re: Verizon Swaps Sandy-Ravaged Copper for Fiber

The copper POTS network is still self-powering. Of course, most handsets no longer are. At any rate, VZ has decided to make copper extinct, and it will use every opportunity to further that agenda.

joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:16:28 PM
re: Verizon Swaps Sandy-Ravaged Copper for Fiber

Yeah, basically, part of the argument is that people are using cordless handsets anyway so the power going out will take them down anyway.

shygye75 12/5/2012 | 5:16:28 PM
re: Verizon Swaps Sandy-Ravaged Copper for Fiber

VZ has been using all kinds of campaigns (positive and negative) to get stubborn people like me to migrate to FiOS. If/when I do make the switch, it's 50/50 on whether I go FiOS or cable. Just sayin.

OldPOTS 12/5/2012 | 5:16:26 PM
re: Verizon Swaps Sandy-Ravaged Copper for Fiber


While the FTTH fiber (FIOS) is very reliable. The scheme/protocal VZ implimented for network controls and their impimentation of DPI slow down (CAPS) has caused great sub constination.

Several neighbors have dropped FIOS for the cable alternative because of these restrictions. and prefer it. I am about ready to switch if these problems continue. Even though I figured out how to beat their extreme DPI slow down, it is still an anoyance.

I have a more expensive copper phone line with old style phone by our bed that is separate from FIOS, as do most of my neighbors. We have seen the phone service continuing for days after Katrena, even though Bell South denied it as they couldn't communicate with their own switches. Guess why. - backup to what?



paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:16:26 PM
re: Verizon Swaps Sandy-Ravaged Copper for Fiber

Umm....couple of notes on the line powering.

The FiOS ONTs are battery backed up for 8 hours, just like the rest of the telephone network.  Right after Sandy it was noted that large scale power outages can not be covered by the number of generators available.  So, on top of cordless handsets the wireline network is not actually independently powered.  It has limited backup as well.  In more restricted outages, generators work well for the telco network.

One other note, especially in warm places.  Battery maintenance is a huge operational cost of the POTS network.  Ask Century what their battery replacement cycle in Vegas is.  You will be surprised.  I actually was looking at Flywheel Batteries as a replacement for chemical batteries in environmental extremes.  They were much lower operational costs, but the upfront capex was too big a difference (like a 5 year payback).



shygye75 12/5/2012 | 5:16:25 PM
re: Verizon Swaps Sandy-Ravaged Copper for Fiber

Right -- For the self-powering to be a positive factor, the power outage has to be localized rather than system-wide. And as we found with Floyd in 1999, nothing can prevent a meltdown if your telco decides to house its switches in the basement of a building that's in a flood zone. And no doubt it costs more to operate two distribution networks instead of one. But right now, choosing between FiOS and cable is a toss-up -- something I didn't think would have been possible not too long ago.

Sign In