[telecom] Basic fiber optic phone service vs. Fios phone service

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A few weeks ago in the consumer column of the Boston Sunday Globe:


... a reader explained that in response to a repair request on their
copper phone line, Verizon was forcing (not encouraging) them to
migrate to fiber. The reader asked, "...what consumer protections
apply. Has Massachusetts taken a position?"

The reporter started off with the usual note about fiber being different
from copper in that during a power outage, you are reliant on a local
backup battery, but otherwise it is technically superior.

But then he went on point out that Verizon is offering two different
products. One being Fios phone service, and the other being basic fiber
optic phone service. As we know, Fios isn't regulated by the state
utility regulators, but notably basic fiber optic phone service is. I
hadn't heard of that before.

A spokeswoman for the state Department of Telecommunications and Cable
(DTC) said, "Because this is a technology upgrade...the department does
not have the authority to interfere with this change, so consumers must
either switch to fiber or switch carriers."

So I guess you are out of luck if Verizon picks you for a forced upgrade
and you want to stick with copper.

The reporter referenced the DTC's advisory on this matter:

A quote from that:

  The DTC requires that Verizon make available to all residential
  customers in Verizon's service territory a regulated landline voice
  telephone service and Verizon claims its fiber service, where offered,
  will meet this obligation.

So what changed from the early days of Fios, where Verizon would pull
out the copper lines to prevent the consumer from using those lines they
were obligated to share with other telcos? Does this mean another telco
can demand that Verizon lease the fiber line? And if so, what
capabilities are available? Does Verizon use loopholes to argue that
only a voice line of bandwidth is available for lease?

Is Verizon implementing this with Fios style dedicated fibers between
the CO and the customer, or are they running fiber to neighborhood
concentrators, and multiplexing only a low-bandwidth signal onto a
shared trunk line?

I'm assuming for simplicity sake they're using a single identical
infrastructure for both, plus this way once they have a foot in the
door, they can upsell the consumer on their bundled offerings and not
have to upgrade the connection.

  ...you should inform Verizon if you have any home monitoring equipment
  such as alarm/security systems or medical equipment that relies upon
  your existing phone line to ensure that it will continue to work after
  you make the switch.

Digital voice services are also notoriously incompatible with fax
machines, due to the way they compress the signal. The DTC advisory
implies that there aren't technical differences between the two Verizon
voice offerings, only marketing and regulatory differences. So I'm
assuming both are using lossy codecs in their ONT. They may support
T.38[1], which demodulates the fax at the analog-to-digital conversion

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T.38


Tom Metro
The Perl Shop, Newton, MA, USA
"Predictable On-demand Perl Consulting."

Re: [telecom] Basic fiber optic phone service vs. Fios phone service
On 9/14/2014 10:46 PM, Tom Metro wrote:
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So let me clarify.  Massachusetts has *not* ended Verizon's carrier of  
last resort (COLR) status, which requires them to provide POTS lines on  
request.  However, they can deliver the POTS line using FiOS hardware.  
It will still go under the Verizon-Massachusetts (ex-New England  
Telephone) tariff, and be subject to the usual regulation.

They do not, however, advertise that offer.  Instead, they promote FiOS  
voice packages that technically go to a different Verizon subsidiary,  
not subject to all of the same rules.  So that's what the vast majority  
of subscribers have.  In many cases the less-regulated service is a  
better deal, but YMMV.

They are not obligated to use copper, but the ONTs have batteries.

BTW this gives them one up over Comcast, whose XFINITY Voice service now  
is delivered via cable modems that do *not* come with a battery.  Be  
forewarned -- this truly sucks big time, and should not be allowed.  
Comcast has apparently been taken over by accountants who emulate the  
old Chrysler, taking value out faster than they can remove cost, and  
wonder why customers go elsewhere.

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Verizon's obligation above is retail, not wholesale.  Their wholesale  
obligation does however require them to make copper loops available if  
they exist. If they pulled out the drop wire, they have to put one back  
in on request of a CLEC.  They do however charge for that, and assume  
that the installation cost of a new drop will discourage CLECs from  
using their old copper loops.

If the copper loop no longer exists (i.e., it does not pass the house),  
then they merely need provide one voice-grade (DS0, narrowband) channel  
per premise on a wholesale basis.

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They either use a copper loop as they did before FiOS (which might go to  
a digital loop carrier system) or they use the FiOS hardware to the  

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They lost an FCC case over whether they could take a CLEC's order for  
service to a given customer site and pass it to the "win-back" team.  
That was ruled an illegal use of the CLEC's CPNI. However, I have  
documentary evidence (actual recordings) that they have continued to do  
so, if not as regularly.

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FiOS does not use lossy codecs.  Nor does PacketCable.  I have fax  
machines on both RCN and Comcast cable phone lines; both run at high speed.

Re: [telecom] Basic fiber optic phone service vs. Fios phone service
On 9/15/2014 10:40 PM, Fred Goldstein wrote:

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Earlier this year (2014), Verizon started charging new customers for ONT  
batteries.  Customer do not have to buy one to get FiOS installed.  I  
believe the price is $39.95, but I may be wrong.

Comcast does the same thing.  In short, Verizon and Comcast are equal in  
this regard.

Verizon also started charging rental fees for the FiOS router if you  
don't purchase one or already own one.

There are other changes as well that make it clear to me that Verizon  
has moved into the "milk the cow" phase of business management.

Oh Well.


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