Copper retirement, cable wholesale, international expansion and small cells took center stage at COMPTEL Spring 2014

Sean Buckley, FierceTelecom

The COMPTEL Plus Spring 2014 showed itself again to be the flagship event for the competitive service provider industry.

According to show organizers, the spring event attracted about 1,700 attendees, 70 percent of which were senior-level executives that were ready to conduct deals with other members of the competitive provider industry.

Alan Morse, who was recently appointed as president of hybrid CLEC/ILEC Ritter Communications, told FierceTelecom that he made a couple of key deals with other service providers.

While COMPTEL has always been a prime deal-making event, FierceTelecom identified four larger issues looming over the industry:

  • Copper retirement and IP transition: Retiring copper in favor of fiber and transitioning networks from TDM to IP was one of the hotly contested issues. While the copper retirement and IP transition may seem like separate issues, they are largely intertwined. AT&T (NYSE: T) has proposed to shut down its TDM network by 2020 and has asked the FCC for permission to conduct two IP transition trials in Alabama and Florida. During a morning panel session last Tuesday, representatives from AT&T, CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL), Frontier (Nasdaq: FTR) and one competitive carrier Granite Telecommunications, discussed copper retirement and the IP transition. AT&T maintains that the retirement of TDM services does not mean copper retirement, but evolving copper for a mix of fiber to the node (FTTN)-based U-verse and Ethernet over Copper for businesses. Meanwhile, Frontier has been enhancing the copper network facilities it purchased from Verizon (NYSE: VZ) in 2010 to support business and residential services. But the concern of Granite Telecommunications, which still adds 1,000 POTS lines a month, is how will the transition affect its multi-site customers, which reside in the secondary markets where AT&T wants to conduct its IP transition experiments?