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Culture

Cutting the copper on Fios

A Washington Post article published on Monday about Verizon's new Fios fiber-to-the-premise network has gotten some folks' knickers in a knot.

In the article, it says "When Verizon installs the fiber-optic connection to your home, the technicians cut down the old, copper-line connection to the telephone network and will not replace it if you later decide to cancel."

Based on this statement, many people fear that consumers who sign-up for Fios will be locked into expensive communication services forever. And because the fiber is connected to the house, they fear that even when people sell their homes, new owners will be locked into buying an expensive fiber-only package from Verizon, even if all they want is basic telephone service.

I asked Verizon specifically about this issue. Here is the response that I got from a Verizon spokeswoman: "Once we install fiber to a home, it stays there. We aren't going to take down the fiber and reinstall copper, but people can still get their single-line, no-frills Verizon phone service over the fiber network for the same amount as the folks still served by copper, if that's what they want. Our FTTP network is likely to be even more reliable than their already-reliable Verizon copper-based phone service."

Now, this sounds completely reasonable to me. Why would Verizon replace the new fiber connections, which it has spent billions of dollars to install, with older copper connections? But on the other hand, subscribers and future home owners in the Fios-ready communities need to be assured that they won't have to pay an arm and a leg for basic telephone service.

Verizon says it won't lock consumers into expensive services. But since Fios is just now rolling out, there's no way to know if the company will keep its promise to continue to provide its bare-bones phone service over the Fios fiber for the same price it charges for basic phone service over its traditional copper network. If I were a Verizon Fios customer, I think I might want this promise in writing.