AT&T, CenturyLink, Frontier see utility with copper but want flexibility in technology transition

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Copper wire retirement may be a concern for competitive providers, but AT&T, CenturyLink and Frontier said that they are still finding value in telecom's ubiquitous access medium.

The telecommunications companies don't envision a wholesale replacement of their copper facilities, but rather would like to have the flexibility to retire them if there's a reason to do so. While CenturyLink is upgrading its network to IP and adding fiber, it sees copper retirement and the IP transition as a two-part issue. It says that the IP transition should have three common characteristics: a state-by-state interconnection model, redundancy and flexibility.

Bill Cheek, president of Wholesale Markets Group for CenturyLink said that while he does not see a day where the company would retire all of its copper facilities, it wants "to have flexibility if we need to retire the copper because we don't want to be mandated to maintain two networks since the economics don't work."

If CenturyLink were to face a similar natural disaster like Verizon did with Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey, it would replace the damaged copper with fiber. Similarly, AT&T does not expect a wholesale change out of copper but sees using it in different ways for new consumer and business applications. To AT&T, the retirement of TDM services does not mean it is going to take out copper. Instead, the service provider will still require copper for some its key services such as its fiber to the node (FTTN)-based U-verse service, central office (CO)-based IP DSL service and Ethernet over Copper for businesses.


AT&T, CenturyLink, Frontier see utility with copper but want flexibility in technology transition