Verizon asks FCC to accelerate Philadelphia copper retirement to accommodate new bridge construction

Verizon has asked the FCC to accelerate its request to retire some of its copper facilities in Southern Philadelphia due to two bridge replacements being conducted by Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT).

In its request to the FCC, Verizon said that SEPTA) and PennDOT planned to replace two bridges in Philadelphia: the Allens Lane Bridge in Verizon’s Chestnut Hill, wire center and the Woodland Avenue Bridge in its Saratoga wire center.

SEPTA’s and PennDOT’s bridge replacement work will sever some of Verizon’s copper facilities in these areas.

Instead of replacing the copper wiring, Verizon will put in new fiber facilities.

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“Rather than reinstall the severed copper facilities after the bridges are replaced, Verizon plans to serve customers in the affected areas exclusively over its fiber network infrastructure,” Verizon said in its FCC filing (PDF). “Because the municipal authorities gave Verizon less than 180-days notice of the bridge replacement dates, we asked the Commission to waive Section 51.332’s 180 days public notice requirement.”

Although the bridge replacements were set to be conducted on April 1, local municipal authorities are delaying new bridge construction. The bridge replacement will now occur on May 1, 2018, for the Woodland Avenue Bridge and on July 1, 2018, for the Allens Lane Bridge.

Verizon noted that even with the delay, the municipalities’ “planned construction dates for the two bridges still fall within the 180-day notice period, and thus we continue to seek an expedited waiver.”

Before the network change and bridge construction begins, Verizon said it will continue to work with its customers an interconnection wholesale partners that will be affected by this change to minimize the “impact of the migrations and copper retirement.”

As it prepares to retire the copper near these bridges, Verizon has built out fiber facilities to nearly all the customer locations in the affected area and has begun encouraging customers to migrate to fiber-based services.

This will enable customers to be moved to the fiber network before their service is disrupted by the municipal bridge construction. Further, Verizon has ensured customers they can avoid service outages from the construction project and be able to schedule their migration to fiber facilities at a convenient time.

Like other areas where Verizon has retired copper, customers will be able to subscribe to traditional POTS voice service over its fiber network as was available over copper facilities. Additionally, customers could continue to receive Internet service, or elect to switch to its FTTH-based Fios voice, video, or other bundled services.

“Granting Verizon’s Request would allow Verizon to retire our copper facilities in the affected areas in a timely and efficient manner and extend the benefits that our fiber network offers to the impacted customers,” Verizon said.