Verizon protests 64 Kbps voice unbundling requirement, says it may delay copper-fiber transition

As its traditional voice subscriber base continues to decline, it should be no surprise that Verizon (NYSE: VZ) is anxious to move away from having to provide an unbundled 64 Kbps voice-grade channel where it has transitioned to fiber and retired the copper loop.

The service provider said in an FCC filing that the 64 Kbps requirement has "outlived any usefulness" as more of its customers have dropped their landline phone service in favor of either VoIP or wireless as their main calling device.

"Customer demand for legacy wireline voice service has dropped precipitously," Verizon said in the filing. "From 2003 to 2013, ILEC retail switched access lines declined by almost 60%."

Verizon added that "demand for unbundled analog voice loops from Verizon -- which the 64 Kbps on fiber channel replaces -- has declined by 65 percent."

Although POTS (plain old telephone service) revenues continue to decline, the telco said that providing 64 Kbps voice channels over fiber is becoming cost prohibitive and could potentially hold them back from retiring copper in other areas.

"Although demand for narrowband voice-grade service continues to decline, the costs of unbundling a 64kbps voice-grade channel over fiber are so high that they threaten to impede ILECs from retiring copper," Verizon said. "Verizon already has begun retiring copper in selected wire centers and has plans to continue retiring copper where we have deployed fiber."

How much it costs to maintain equipment to support 64 Kbps was redacted in its FCC filing.

Verizon also addressed CLECs' concerns about being able to provide TDM-based voice to their business customers.

"CLECs that today purchase unbundled voice-grade loops also could continue to serve end-user customers through commercial platform services like Verizon's Wholesale Advantage or through resale," Verizon said.

The service provider, according to a series of FCC filings, recently said it is retiring copper network facilities in White Plains, N.Y., Pittsburgh, Falls Church, Va., and Providence, R.I.

It set a goal to convert a total of 200,000 customers from copper to fiber by the end of the year.

For more:
- see the FCC filing (PDF)

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