Verizon to grandfather TDM-based voice, data services in Northeast wiring centers

copper wiring legacy networks

Verizon has asked the FCC for permission to phase out sales of a number of its legacy TDM-based voice services throughout the Northeast, signaling the telco is accelerating a transition toward IP- and fiber-based network services.

The carrier is looking to grandfather five services: Voice Grade, WATS Access Line, Bonded Digital Link, Digital Data, and DIGIPATH Digital Service II. 

Voice Grade Service terminations transmit in the nominal frequency range of 300 to 3000 Hz and may be terminated as analog two- or four-wire and voice grade channels are provided between customer designated premises or between a customer designated premises and a Verizon hub. WATS Access Line Service (WATS ALS) provides voice frequency transmission capability for toll-free calling in a limited geographic area. 

The service provider will stop taking orders for these services in the wiring centers on or after Nov. 22, 2016.

Verizon said in an FCC filing that once the affected services are grandfathered, it won’t accept new orders for the legacy services and “existing customers will continue to receive these services over Verizon’s more advanced and reliable fiber facilities rather than copper facilities.”

Similar to calling card and 800 long-distance voice services, Verizon said that the affected services are used by a very small portion of its customer base because these customers have opted for higher speed broadband and IP-based wireline and wireless voice series.

Verizon said that it has no BLDS customers, only two WATS ALS customers, and less than 300 total customers in these areas on DDS, DDS II, and Voice Grade Service. 

This transition is part of Verizon’s broader effort to migrate its wiring centers off of copper and onto fiber.

Customers affected by this migration -- one that Verizon said will be conducted in multiple stages -- will have the option to “choose to switch to another product offering or service that better fits their needs.” 

A number of the affected customers on these legacy services have already been working with Verizon in transitioning to fiber.

“Verizon states that during this transition, it has been working one-on-one with customers receiving service over copper facilities to discuss their existing services and their needs going forward,” Verizon said. “Verizon indicates that, for the majority of customers, there has been a like-for-like, fiber-based service available for them, making the transition straightforward.” 

The telco said that a large majority of the customers are traditional landline phone service customers and the transition to fiber will not affect the services they get today.

“Verizon adds that most of these customers are purchasing plain old telephone service and will continue to receive the same POTS service over fiber at the same or better price, and there is no change in the underlying features and functionalities in their service,” Verizon said. “Verizon also notes that customers will continue to be able to buy DS1 level services, just over the more reliable network.”

While Verizon has been transitioning many of its existing copper customers off of copper to fiber, it’s likely some protests could arise.

In March, Verizon’s proposed copper to fiber transition in New Jersey faced opposition from the state's Division of Rate Counsel. At that time, Stefanie Brand, division director, said that the independent state agency began receiving complaints from consumers in Bloomfield and Brunswick in May 2015 after Verizon circulated notices to its legacy voice customers there.

Verizon said in response that its proposal has not faced any "valid objections to the copper retirement filed by providers serving customers in this area, and no request for an extension of time."

For more:
- see this filing (PDF)

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