There was a bit of Schadenfreude Mon as the cable industry watched Verizon squirm to explain its FiOS install practices. At issue was an AP article over the weekend questioning the telco’s tendency to remove customers’ old twisted-pair copper phone lines when installing shiny, new fiber connections. But Verizon came out swinging on Mon. "The article is just plain wrong," said Verizon’s Sharon Cohen-Hagar. "We don’t remove the copper network, as the article suggests—only the few dozen yards of copper wire from the street to the home. Customers benefit because they don’t need the copper cable, and it looks better to remove it. We remove this copper drop if runs overhead from a pole to the house. If it’s buried, we leave the copper in place." Remember the old days when cable felt beseiged all the time? Guess now it’s Verizon’s turn. Our requests for snarky comments from cable execs went largely unheeded, although one exec noted the irony that Verizon was ripping out copper just as AT&T is trying to pump everything from HD to high-speed data through those ole’ copper wires (supplemented with fiber, of course). Meanwhile, Pike & Fischer released a study Mon suggesting that from 2008 to 2010 Verizon must boost FiOS Internet and TV penetration by an average of 6.5 and 2.7 percentage points per year, respectively, to achieve penetration targets. P&F also estimated it will take Verizon a decade or more to get a solid return on investment if it falls short of market penetration targets, adding that the telco faces greater hurdles rolling out video than cable operators face introducing VoIP service. While the FiOS TV footprint has grown to 9.4% of homes passed, Comcast’s VoIP footprint had expanded to 73% of homes, P&F said. Of course, such challenges and a little bad press aren’t likely to slow Verizon’s FiOS onslaught, which continues to steal cable customers. Cohen-Hagar, meanwhile, also took issue with the suggestion that existing customers or new homeowners might have trouble switching back to copper. "If a customer asks, we’ll leave the copper in place, and if a new resident wants or needs a copper-based service, we’ll provide [the copper] without charge," she said. And get this: Henry Powderly, the main subject of AP’s article, said in his blog Mon that the wire service "used my name to make a point I completely disagree with… And as for my FiOS experience, I’ve had no problems, the service has not cost me more than Verizon said it would, and I’m full-on addicted to Food Network HD." Oh well. At least cable can take solace that for once (and perhaps never again), the media beat up on a telco rather than a cable operator. Enjoy it while it lasts.

The Daily

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