CenturyLink agrees with Verizon, AT&T to realign the copper retirement process

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CenturyLink has asked the FCC to streamline the Section 214 and copper retirement processes.

CenturyLink is joining the chorus of incumbent telcos that want the copper retirement and legacy service discontinuance process to be simplified to facilitate the build out and expansion of next-gen fiber and IP-based services.

In an FCC filing (PDF), CenturyLink has asked the regulator to streamline the Section 214 and copper retirement processes.

“CenturyLink expressed wholehearted support for the Commission’s proposals to expedite and streamline the Section 214 and copper retirement processes,” Century wrote. “The migration to next-generation facilities and services is both natural and desirable. The Commission therefore should eliminate prior approval requirements where possible and streamline those that remain.”

RELATED: CenturyLink, Verizon and Windstream battle over 90-day copper retirement period

Copper retirement has been a contentious issue for ILECs and CLECs. During the Tom Wheeler era of the FCC, he passed Technology Transitions Order, which proposed giving competitive carriers and businesses six months’ notice, while residential customers get three months’ notice before copper facilities are shut down.

Today, ILECs are required to provide notice to CLEC wholesale customers that use copper facilities to deliver voice and Ethernet over Copper services to business customers. ILECs would also be given the option to retire copper networks and replace them with fiber without prior commission approval, but only if no service is discontinued, reduced, or impaired.

CenturyLink, AT&T, and Verizon have been staunch advocates of shortening the notification process. The telco said the FCC should reinstate the 90-day notice period because “180 days is simply too long to accommodate some network upgrades, especially given the short construction season in many parts of the country.”

Realigning the copper retirement rules is just one element that CenturyLink would like to see changed. As the telco looks to shut down legacy services, which either have few or no customers, the service provider would like to streamline the processes for grandfathering and subsequently discontinuing those services.

“Providers customarily grandfather services that have become obsolete and effectively replaced by newer services,” CenturyLink said. “It is critical that providers be able easily to stop selling such products when they have reached this last stage in their life cycle, so that the provider can focus on newer services and streamline its processes and systems.”

When CenturyLink grandfathers a service, which it says is a first step to discontinuance, the telco gives customers extended time to transition to newer services.

CenturyLink says it tries to conduct the grandfathering of a service in a “customer-friendly manner, to maintain good will and increase the chances the customer will transition to another CenturyLink service, rather than switching to an alternative provider.”

The service provider noted that the FCC should apply the streamlined rules to any service being grandfathered, including DS1s and DS3 circuits, while shortening the “timeframe that a carrier must demonstrate that it had no customers to 60 days, as proposed in the Notice, or even shorter.”