Verizon won’t sell all in California, appears to be clinging to juciest bits of its wireline networks

by Steve Blum • , , , ,

Clinging to California.

Competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) are companies that lease wholesale facilities from incumbents – typically lines from a central office to subscriber locations – and add their own elements, often backhaul, upgraded DSL equipment and voice services. That means that the quality and price of the service CLECs provide partly depends on the condition of incumbent networks.

The lobbying group that represents CLECs in Sacramento – CalTel – is happy to see Verizon sell its wireline networks to Frontier Communications

CalTel considers Verizon California to be an often uncooperative and indifferent-at- best wholesale supplier. In particular, Verizon’s “kill-the-copper” policies, including de facto retirement of copper facilities by failing to properly maintain them, has resulted in increasing alarm and numerous CalTel objections over the past seven years.

In its filing with the California Public Utilities Commission, CalTel expresses the usual blah blah blah about making sure Frontier can and will do all the things CalTel thinks is necessary – no surprises there. But then CalTel goes on to cite documents that Verizon has filed with the FCC that indicate that it is holding on to a considerable amount of its wireline assets – think, middle mile fiber – in California…

It appears that that Verizon’s CLEC entities in California will not be transferring to Frontier…

Two things are clear, however: first, Verizon will continue to be a major provider of wireline services in California — information which needs to be better understood and then factored in to the Commission’s evaluation of the competitive impact of the proposed transfers on the business services and wholesale markets.

Second, this raises a host of questions about the current business arrangements between the Verizon ILEC and CLEC entities, including how they are documented and how they will change after Frontier acquires the ILEC entity and all of its “network facilities, equipment, customers, employees, real estate and the like.”

CalTel is absolutely right that a Frontier takeover of Verizon’s consumer wireline business in California would be a good thing. But neither Frontier nor independent phone and Internet service providers should be locked out of middle mile fiber and other high capacity, industrial-grade facilities, just because Verizon is able to permanently duck – instead of perpetually dodge – the responsibilities that go with its regulated, monopoly wireline business.