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CenturyLink Targets 2 Midwestern States for Copper Retirement

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CenturyLink has asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for permission to retire copper in areas of Minnesota and Nebraska.

In Crystal, Minnesota, and Valley, Nebraska, CenturyLink plans to retire copper loops and replace them with fiber loops as customers migrate to higher-speed broadband internet access (BIA), provided over its fiber-to-the-home overlay architecture. Growth in the areas prompted the need for copper retirement, which is expected to occur on Nov. 30, it said.

In Afton and Shakopee, Minnesota, CenturyLink plans to cut facilities to fiber-fed digital loop carrier (DLC) systems, citing growth in the distribution areas. After the cut to DLC, copper-reliant services such as non-loaded copper loops will not be supported. All other types of unbundled loops still will be available.

The transition is slated to occur on Nov. 30 in Afton, and Dec. 30 in Shakopee.

David Bartlett, CenturyLink’s vice president of federal government affairs, tells Channel Partners that as consumers and the industry transition to next-generation IP-based products and the demand for copper services declines, “providers need the flexibility to discontinue those legacy services and retire copper facilities that are no longer used.”

“CenturyLink tries to balance the need to transform its networks, products and services with the needs of our customers, business partners and employees, while also providing a level of certainty and a path forward during the IP transition that the company will continue to meet consumer and public safety demands,” he said. “Depending on available local network infrastructure, in some cases customers may choose whether they want to continue using copper-based facilities or transition to fiber-based IP facilities.”

Last November, the FCC adopted rules aimed at making it easier for telecom service providers to replace traditional copper infrastructure with fiber. Those include eliminating a requirement for certain consumer notices, eliminating discontinuance requirements involving wholesale-only services, allowing service providers to discontinue certain low-speed data services that had been grandfathered, and eliminating the need for service providers to receive FCC approval before upgrading legacy services.

CenturyLink said the retirement of these copper facilities will not result in changes to rates, terms and conditions in cases where the affected service is converted to a like-for-like service that is available on the replacement fiber or copper facilities. In cases where interconnecting entities choose to replace the affected service with an alternative service that CenturyLink offers on fiber facilities, the rates, terms and conditions will be as set forth in the tariff or agreement under which CenturyLink offers the replacement service that the interconnecting entity selects.

Verizon also recently asked the FCC for permission to retire copper in areas of New England, New York and Pennsylvania as it continues moving customers to fiber-based technology.


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