Thursday, July 19, 2007

Goodbye Copper?

There’s been some recent press about Verizon and their FIOS product installation. FIOS is a fiber optic network service that delivers voice, video and data services. You may also see it referred to as a Fiber to the Premises (FTTP) or Fiber to the Home (FTTH) service that Verizon is selling and installing in select markets in 16 different states.

Most who have the service installed are extremely happy with the bandwidth and cost when compared to lower bandwidth DSL and Cable Modem services. The product has become so popular that it is even being used as a selling point by real estate agents when marketing homes.

A few are complaining though. It appears Verizon, when installing the FIOS service, is cutting out the existing copper lines leaving the customer with only one option – fiber and FIOS. There are a couple of good reasons from a business perspective for Verizon to do this. The first is the existing copper wiring is old and requires a significant amount of maintenance – Verizon spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year just maintaining the existing “copper plant” and it makes sense to remove it when it is replaced. The second reason is the Telecommunications Act of 1996 which requires the telephone companies (like Verizon) share their existing copper lines with competitors. There is no current legal requirement for Verizon to share new fiber optic lines with anyone.

In fairness to Verizon, there is a three step notification process for people who sign up for the FIOS service. According to the International Herald Tribune, customers are told by the Verizon sales person, it is indicated in the sales contract and the customer is told by the technician that the copper will be cut out. Currently, Verizon is publicly stating they will replace removed copper if a FIOS customer wished to revert back to copper service.

Also according to the International Herald Tribune, Verizon has filed more than 100 notices with the Federal Communications Commission to retire portions of copper throughout its network.

I can understand the customer concerns about lack of choice and some technical issues like battery back-up and also Verizon’s concerns about having to maintain two separate networks.

1 comment:

Rik Villarreal said...

Sounds great...the whole EoC concept. That's my cool way of sayin' 'end of copper' it catching?

probably not.

Okay, but seriously.
EoC will happen. But, not tomorrow it wont.

As long as we've got a signal transduction process necessary to support our user-end communication infrastructure, that is, in this case, from photonic to electronic, copper is gonna be the ready source of our electronic transport for a while. Slowly but surely fo cable, connectivity and media conversion is coming on board and becoming more readily available here in the states. But the day we have a large majority of cable dogs speaking fiber termination in anything other than the standard and cumbersome ST and SC connector, as opposed to SFF, EoC could still be a decade away.

Dont get me wrong, Im one of the biggest fiber guys you could meet, however, I am painfully aware that Phelps Dodge and their lobby-corps will continue to buy copper-intrest votes throughout the FCC, TIA, and anywhere else a senatorial committee may have a say.

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