Will be interesting to see if they chicken out wrt FTTH, as Verizon and Google
have done, or if they carry on through with their plans. The other interesting
development being XG.fast, for up to 5 Gb/s over xDSL. (But only in Europe?)
CenturyLink Cuts Copper in 15 States
Carrier carries on with fiber build as Google scales back and Europe goes
G.fast over copper
November 1, 2016
By Deborah D. McAdams
MONROE, LA.-Northern Louisiana telecom CenturyLink is continuing to cut copper
while regulators chew on its $25 billion purchase of Level 3, internet service
provider to giants such as Netflix.
CenturyLink filed several copper retirement notifications that the Federal
Communications Commission released on Halloween. In Fort Myers, Fla., the
provider said it plans to "retire copper loops and replace them with fiber
loops using its fiber-to-the-home overlay architecture as customers migrate to
higher speed broadband internet access."
Four other filings indicate CenturyLink is cutting copper in other communities
in Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin, Arizona, Iowa, Minnesota,
Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico and
In these filings1, CenturyLink said only that, "Due to growth in the
distribution areas, CenturyLink plans to cut facilities to fiber-fed
digital-loop carrier systems."
It said nothing about the FTTH overlay or the availability of other services
after facilities are cut, as it did in this Network Disclosure Announcement
from June, which included the assurance: "After the cut to DLC, copper reliant
services, such as non-loaded copper loops will not be supported. All other
types of unbundled loops will still be available."
FCC rules adopted in August of 2015 require approval for discontinuation of
service related to copper retirement, but require no approval process "for
retirement of legacy facilities so long as the change of technology does not
discontinue, reduce, or impair the services provided-ensuring that incumbent
local exchange carriers can continue to transition to an all-fiber
The facilities, including the one in Fort Myers, will be cut April 30, 2017.
CenturyLink has been retiring copper lines at least since 2012, according to
filings available online. In the case of this announcement affecting the
Tucson, Ariz., infrastructure, CenturyLink said road construction forced it to
"abandon its copper cables and transfer services to a fiber-fed digital loc
FierceTelecom reported on CenturyLink copper retirements disclosed in July and
said that new fibered facilities in Minnesota and Washington were part of the
carrier's 16-city fiber-to-the-premises effort create 1 Gbps business and
However, if Google's effort is any indication, the fiber build-outs may not pan
out as planned.
Google scaled back its ambitious fiber launched in Kansas City five years ago,
and that now includes Austin, Texas; Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C.; Nashville;
Provo, Utah; Salt Lake City and the Raleigh-Durham N.C. area. Several more
"potential fiber cities" were put on indefinite hold while the plan to wire San
Francisco was dropped in favor of wireless service, ars technica said.
While Google didn't say as much, observers noted that Google's game of
overbuilding is expensive and difficult. Nashville Public Radio reports two
water main breaks have been attributed to Google's overbuild there. In
Louisville, Ky., AT&T challenged a municipal ordinance giving Google Fiber
expedited access to utility poles, ars technica reports.
Shortly after Google announced the rollback, AT&T's Joan Marsh observed that
Google fiber learned "something we've known for over a hundred years-deploying
communications networks is hard and takes an enormous amount of time, money and
CenturyLink-which has the home-field advantage of being an incumbent versus an
overbuilder-has given no indication of curtailing its fiber build-out while the
copper retirement continues. The Level 3 acquisition will bring CenturyLink
another 200,000 miles of fiber, according to The New York Times.
CenturyLink is not alone in retiring copper. In April, The Philadelphia
Inquirer reported on a program within Verizon called "Fiber is the Only Fix,"
in which old copper lines are not repaired, but only replaced with fiber.
Meanwhile in Western Europe, internet service providers are developing
technology to delivery up to 5 Gbps over copper, ars said. This technology,
XG.fast, is the assumed successor to G.fast, which purported to match fiber
speeds over copper at 400 meters, was approved by the International
Telecommunications Union in 2014. A study by Ovum highlighted at ZDNet said
G.fast will be in 29 million premises in five years.
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