Verizon says fiber-based voice network won’t impact TTY, assistive technologies, emphasizes streamlining copper retirement

copper wiring legacy networks
Verizon says it's not aware of any systemic issue that would cause end-users difficulties in using TTY or other assistive technologies after migrating from copper facilities to fiber.

Verizon claims that its ongoing transition from copper to fiber, which will carry consumer and business traditional and IP-based voice services, will not pose problems for end users using TTY or other assistive technologies.

In recent years, the service provider has been retiring copper in various parts of its network and transitioning customers to fiber.

While Verizon offers these customers the option to transition from lower speed copper-based DSL data services to higher 50 Mbps to 1 Gbps services on fiber, the service provider has worked to ensure voice-only customers would get the same service they saw on a copper line.

“In response to recent ex partes filed in this proceeding, we explained that we are not aware of any systemic issue in Verizon’s networks that would cause end-users difficulties in using TTY or other assistive technologies after migrating from copper facilities to fiber,” Verizon said in its FCC filing (PDF). “As we have explained previously, Verizon customers who migrate from copper to fiber have the option to continue with same TDM-based (a.k.a. POTS) service over fiber or to switch to a VoIP service called Fios Digital Voice (FDV).”

RELATED: Verizon says OTMR, streamlined copper retirement will enhance wireline broadband expansion

Since Verizon began offering voice services over fiber when it launched Fios in 2005, the company designed the network to carry voice, facsimile, TTY, alarms  and other services. Today, Verizon has over 3.9 million residential FDV customers.

The telco noted that the fiber network was designed to carry these same voice services “transparently for customers who had previously been served over copper facilities” and had vendors “confirm that their equipment would work with TTY and other assistive technologies.”

The telco is responding to concerns raised by Kevin Colwell, VP of text communications vendor Ultratec. Colwell said in an earlier FCC filing that there have been some incidents where users of captioned telephones saw issues.

“There have been some reports from users of analog captioned telephones that after undisclosed changes to their telephone service their captioned telephone no longer worked reliable,” Colwell said in the company’s filing. “We believe this to be a provider’s conversion from analog to IP based facilities and this is particularly a concern when the user has no knowledge of the change.”

Today, TTY users can use a number of products that are compatible with IP-based voice services. These IP captioned telephones typically use a voice service, analog or IP, and an internet connection to the captioning service. Another option is to provide IP captioned telephones that operate on only an internet connection.   

Colwell said one way to resolve any compatibility or reliability issues, is “to have communications equipment that is IP based and can provide end to end IP connectivity.”

“It is expected that the fixed-line real-time text-capable devices will eventually be available for TTY users and IP-based captioned telephones for captioned telephone users,” Colwell said. “The key issue during this transition is how to effectively support users of traditional analog equipment while making the transition from analog equipment and service to IP based equipment and service.”

The discussion between Verizon and Ultratec reflects the telco’s broader effort to migrate more of its customers onto fiber. The service provider has been an advocate for the FCC to revise the copper retirement process to accelerate the rollout of next-gen broadband and voice services.