Verizon seeks FCC permission to retire copper in 8 markets, emphasizes call to revise processes

Verizon has asked the FCC for permission to retire copper in eight Northeast markets early next year, marking another step in the telco’s migration of its customer base to fiber-based technology.

In a series of filings published by the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau, the service provider has requested to replace aging copper with FTTH infrastructure.

The locations in the filings are several towns and cities in the the legacy ILEC markets of Virginia, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maryland and Delaware.

RELATED: Verizon says de facto copper retirement concept inhibits fiber migration, creates uncertainty

Verizon said if these are approved the switchover will take effect on or after February 28, 2018.

According to the filings, it appears that several the customers affected by this change will be business customers.

Copper to fiber migration

In the copper retirement notice provided to customers in these eight markets, the service provider said it would work with businesses to migrate them to a fiber-based solution.

“To continue to provide you service, Verizon will have to move your service to these fiber-optic facilities,” Verizon said in its copper notice. “If fiber is available to your business location now, we will be contacting you individually soon to schedule an appointment to transition your services to fiber. Otherwise, we will be contacting you once fiber is available.”

Business customers that currently use DS1 services will see no change to price, terms and conditions when they move to fiber.

However, customers that currently subscribe to Verizon’s DSL service will have to change over to the Fios internet service.

“We will offer the service at a special rate for customers who migrate from copper to fiber as a result of the retirement of our copper facilities,” Verizon said.

A controversial process

Verizon’s requests come at a time when the service provider is vying for broader regulatory changes to the copper retirement process.

During a recent meeting with the FCC, the telco encouraged the regulator to repeal its existing prohibition against disclosing a contemplated copper retirement prior to filing notice. Verizon claims this process “keeps us from efficiently working with customers and landlords to help coordinate deployment of fiber and migration to newer technologies.”

Still, the telco's copper retirement has been an ongoing source of controversy in some markets.

In Pennsylvania, the telco came under fire for alleged de facto copper retirement from the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union. De facto copper retirement is the process where a service provider supposedly will let the facilities degrade to a point where they are no longer usable.

Verizon and the CWA reached an agreement in June under which the telco will make a number of infrastructure upgrades to its copper infrastructure in Pennsylvania, following complaints that the telco was allegedly not performing necessary upkeep on the state's network.

Despite the controversy Verizon has faced with its copper retirement process, the telco claims the transition from copper to fiber in various instances has enabled it to reduce truck rolls to customer locations.

Between 2012 through 2016, Verizon made approximately 3.4 million fewer repair or trouble-shooting dispatches than would have been required had these customers remained on copper facilities.