Verizon Communications Inc.'s move to kill off some of its copper footprint could be a slow process, it emerged on Tuesday's fourth-quarter earnings call.
"In wireline we are focused on moving customers to fiber-based assets," Verizon CFO Fran Shammo said on the call.
This is no surprise: The operator revealed in December that it wasn't replacing copper lines damaged by Superstorm Sandy.
"Copper does not mix with water ... fiber optics doesn't care if it's in water," noted the CFO on the earnings call.
The transition from copper to fiber in areas where FiOS is available, however, will be a long-term process. Shammo said Verizon hit its target of 200,000 customers moved in 2012 and that "our target is 300,000 this year."
Verizon currently still has some 3.3 million customers on copper. So it will be a long-term process for Verizon to actually see all the savings it gets from not operating copper, particularly as its FiOS footprint in the U.S. is by no means comprehensive.
The company is hoping to persuade customers not covered by fiber to move to 4G instead. On the call, Verizon said it now has 4G LTE in 476 markets in the U.S. and covers more than 273 million potential customers.
It hopes to complete the 4G rollout in 2013.
Verizon posted a loss of US$1.93 billion for the quarter (because of damage from Superstorm Sandy and one time-costs associated with pension liabilities) on revenue up 4.5 percent at $30 billion.
This translates to loss of $1.48 per share, compared with a loss of $0.71 per share a year earlier, when it reported a net deficit of about $212 million. Excluding the one-time items, Verizon had a profit of $0.38 per share.
Analysts polled by Reuters expected a profit before one-time costs of $0.50 per share on revenue of $29.83 billion.
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile