Verizon (NYSE: VZ) continues to make progress with its copper-to-fiber migration strategy. The service provider, according to a series of FCC filings, is retiring copper network facilities in White Plains, N.Y., Pittsburgh, Falls Church, Va., and Providence, R.I.
Similar to other markets like New York City, when the migration is completed Verizon will no longer offer services over copper wires and maintain those facilities. However, it will continue to offer consumers and businesses a 64 Kbps grade PSTN (public switched telephone network) over the fiber connection.
It emphasized that consumers, the majority of which are POTS (plain old telephone service) customers, will not see any effect to the services they use and it is not a transition to IP-based services. Verizon has not revealed whether it would try to upsell these customers with FiOS services now that they will be connected to the FTTH network.
"There will be no change in the underlying features and functionalities in their service: this is not a transition to IP-based service and these customers will be offered the same regulated service they have today," Verizon said in an FCC filing. "There are no wholesale customers at these locations at this time. If in the future, wholesale customers approach us to provide service at these locations, they will continue to be able to buy services over the more reliable network as they do in other areas where we have retired copper and deployed fiber."
Verizon added that while it does not provide wholesale customers service in these locations, it will allow customers to purchase services over the new fiber network.
"There are no wholesale customers at these locations at this time," Verizon said. "If in the future, wholesale customers approach us to provide service at these locations, they will continue to be able to buy services over the more reliable network as they do in other areas where we have retired copper and deployed fiber."
Overall, the transition to fiber in these markets includes what is a small amount of customers. In Providence it serves about 430 POTS customers, while in Falls Church it serves 250 retail customers and 100 retail customers in Pittsburgh.
Despite the potential that copper to fiber migration has for Verizon in terms of lower costs and maintenance costs, the migration hasn't been without controversy.
Verizon has had to fight back against claims from competitive providers that it has engaged in a practice known as de facto copper retirement where a telco would let its aging copper plant deteriorate to the point where it would become necessary to replace the copper with fiber. It asked the FCC to not include new requirements addressing the issue in its technology transition plans.
What's more, a former copper-based POTS customer in Herndon, Va., was told to switch to fiber or have his voice service cut off. The consumer told Ars Technica that while his phone service started working again, Verizon said that if he refused to have fiber installed at his premises they would cut off his phone line and close his account in July. Ultimately, the consumer cancelled his service and switched his voice service to Cox, which he already uses for Internet access.
Regardless of the issues it has faced, Verizon has made steady progress in reaching its copper-to-fiber migration goals for 2015. While it won't release its third-quarter earnings until next Tuesday, the service provider reported that as of the second quarter it converted 51,000 copper customers to fiber, bringing its first-half total to 98,000. It set a goal to convert a total of 200,000 customers from copper to fiber by the end of the year.
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