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FiOS vs U-verse

7:00 AM -- Verizon is taking on AT&T in North Texas, but it's not as brutal an assault as government filings suggest.

Here's what we do know: Verizon is extending its fiber network and, in doing so, is reaching more customers. But it's not overbuilding.

Light Reading has learned Verizon is actively trenching, boring, and placing new fiber optic cable in the cities of Keller, Watauga, and Plano, Texas.

That's significant because AT&T is offering U-verse in Watauga and Keller. "If at some point, the same household can select between FiOS and U-verse, we expect that the majority of consumers are going to select FiOS because of the value and quality that comes with the Verizon offering," says an objective observer who works for Verizon.

AT&T said it saw nothing to comment on when presented with that information. Chickens.

What is Verizon actually doing if it's not overbuilding? Verizon's looking at areas, like Keller, where it already has the FiOS service running and where it has already been blanketing the area in advertisements for some amount of time.

Since it already has FiOS, and a video serving office nearby, the carrier then extends its fiber about 5 to 6 miles from those existing central offices/video service offices. Verizon doesn't have a traditional phone network covering the whole city in those cases, so it's not really overbuilding anything.

Still, Verizon is passing some homes in AT&T's territory -- and the deregulation of fiber assets allows for consumers to finally choose between two incumbent phone carriers, in those rare instances where both carriers want to reach the same area.

The rationale for Verizon's fiber extension is pretty obvious. In North Texas, according to Verizon, the percentage of consumers who have ordered FiOS services more than doubles the national average. "It's a very mature FiOS market," a spokesman says.

Verizon's also leaving the door wide open because it won't discuss any future plans beyond its fiber network extensions. So the telco vs. telco grudge match we've all been waiting for may yet happen, but not likely in a big way.

The real takeaway here is that, as Verizon itself has already noted, the carrier is keen to compete outside of the cozy confines of its copper network. But it will pick those fights very carefully.

— Phil Harvey, Editor, Light Reading

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