Verizon says fewer customers are purchasing battery backup for fiber home voice services

Verizon (NYSE: VZ) is finding that as more of its customers migrate over to FiOS or it switches copper customers onto a fiber-based voice connection, more of its customers are increasingly using their cell phones as their voice connection during a power outage.

Since fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) connections are not line powered from a Central Office (CO) like those that exist on a copper-based network, customers have to purchase their own alternative power supply such as a battery, generator or an uninterrupted power supply.

The service provider recently met with the FCC to talk about how it can ensure customer premises equipment back-up power for its fiber-based services during power outages.

"An increasing number of customers found they did not need a battery back-up solution at all, given their increased reliance on their wireless phones in the event of a commercial power outage or use of cordless telephone handsets in their home that also require power to operate," Verizon wrote in an FCC ex parte filing. "We explained that in light of these concerns, several years ago Verizon began research to develop a best-in-class consumer friendly battery back-up option for voice services."

Although Verizon can't monitor the charge level from the network, the telco told the FCC that customers are used to monitoring batteries in other devices, such as smoke detectors.

In order to address customers' concerns about purchasing battery back-up solutions, the service provider created its "PowerReserve" solution, which uses traditional D-cell batteries to provide about 20+ hours of back-up power for voice service, depending on the model of the Optical Network Terminal at the customer's location.

"Customers can easily purchase D-cell batteries in stores or online, and replacing batteries is straightforward and similar to replacement in other common household devices, such as a flashlight," Verizon wrote. "We also explained that the PowerReserve is designed to work with Verizon equipment only and will not power other providers' network terminals. We noted that Verizon provides customers with a PowerReserve battery tester so that customers can monitor the battery charge level themselves."

While Verizon has effectively put the kibosh on expanding FiOS FTTH service into new markets, it is continually migrating more of what it calls "chronic" copper customers onto fiber. Besides selling customers voice service on the new fiber line, Verizon sees this copper-to-fiber migration process as a way to potentially upsell them higher symmetrical bandwidth speeds and even TV services.

During the first quarter, Verizon continued to make progress with its copper-to-fiber migration strategy, moving 47,000 customers onto fiber, helping it come closer to reaching its 2015 goal of 200,000.

For more:
- see this FCC filing

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