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In Sandy-Struck NJ Town, Verizon Goes All Wireless, No Copper

timothy posted about a year ago | from the copper-is-for-suckers dept.

Verizon 155

An anonymous reader writes with a bit from the Asbury Park Press: "'Devastated and wiped out by superstorm Sandy, Verizon has no plans to rebuild its copper-line telephone network in Mantoloking. Instead, Verizon says Mantoloking is the first town in New Jersey, and one of the few areas in the country, to have a new service called Verizon Voice Link. Essentially, it connects your home's wired and cordless telephones to the Verizon Wireless network.' So no copper or fiber to a fairly densely populated area. Comcast will now be the only voice/data option with copper to the area."

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waste of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43628407)

Apparently landlines are a waste of money, that's why they force DSL susbscribers to pay for them even if all they want is DSL. It is nice to see that they are more flexible about landline use when it comes to saving their own money.

Re:waste of money (1)

xaosflux (917784) | about a year ago | (#43628417)

copper wireline is expensive, what medium would you expect those DSL customers to get service delivered on?

Re:waste of money (3, Informative)

Deathlizard (115856) | about a year ago | (#43628459)

Fiber would be nice and cheaper than full copper runs.

Re:waste of money (4, Insightful)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about a year ago | (#43628627)

No, fiber is far more expensive if you do it proper. That is, using actual glass fibers as opposed to plastic, and using lasers instead of LED. Not even just talking about the materials, actually properly terminating fiber lines requires a bit of skill and some tools that aren't cheap, unlike say voice grade copper that requires a simple punch tool.

In addition, running fiber not only requires the fiber itself, but you also have to have repeaters, which means you need copper power lines running parallel with the fiber lines. Sure you could depend on the power grid, but then you have to forgo the classic emergency benefit where the phone lines worked even during a blackout. This is precisely the reason why all long distance fiber lines do invariably come with copper, in fact many of which need a lot of copper (far more than voice grade lines) since one of the sheathing layers is made out of copper to make it more resilient against damage while still being somewhat flexible.

DSL itself is rather low tech, and is probably right now about as good as its going to get, likewise IMO it's not even worth bothering to rebuild it. You can only do so much with voice grade copper since it can only carry a very limited number of channels, unlike say cable which is shielded far better and is easily capable of 5.1Gbit/s if you use all available channels up to 1Ghz. (In most of the existing infrastructure you can go up to 3Ghz, it's just a matter of having better transmitters and receivers to take advantage of it. Dump the analog channels and you'll get even more out of it.)

Power cut? (4, Insightful)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about a year ago | (#43628873)

Regardless of whether it is fibre or wireless the one problem that seems to have been overlooked is what happens in a power cut? The only reason we still have a landline is because of its reliability in an emergency. If local phone companies cut the copper link - which provides external power to a non-cordless phone - I'll dump them and switch to a cheaper net-based alternative.

Re:Power cut? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43629075)

But AT&T and major telcos are already seeking to get rid of POTS...

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2009/12/att-landline-phone-service-must-die-only-question-is-when/
http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/ATT-Highlights-Plan-to-Hang-up-on-POTS-DSL-121285

They claim they can't afford to continue maintaining the traditional network with the reduced efficiencies and higher costs as more customers migrate away from POTS service.

g=

Re:Power cut? (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about a year ago | (#43630483)

And I wouldn't be surprised if it's completely true. People like myself have long since moved from POTS to wireless. That isn't a corporate conspiracy, that is a fact brought about by consumer choice. That being the case, why are we going to maintain old copper lines that people don't want anymore?

Virtual circuits make a lot more sense than switched circuits. This is the same reason why in every other form of communication that exists, we've moved away from TDMA (this is where the t in t-carrier comes from, aka t1, t3, by the way) and to CDMA, ODFMA, PSK, and other similar technologies that allow multiple virtual channels within a single physical channel, all without sacrificing quality (indeed, these technologies allow for better voice quality than POTS can ever deliver.)

Re:Power cut? (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about a year ago | (#43630447)

Easy, use a UPS. Phones require very little power, so even a cheaper one could last a week or longer.

Re:waste of money (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43629061)

But who says yhou put in voice grade copper?
I think Verizon shpuld be required to replace the downed copper. That's what the maintenence fees the customers have been paying forever were to cover.

Re: waste of money (1)

hemp (36945) | about a year ago | (#43629103)

+1

Re:waste of money (1, Funny)

jd2112 (1535857) | about a year ago | (#43630033)

But who says yhou put in voice grade copper? I think Verizon shpuld be required to replace the downed copper. That's what the maintenence fees the customers have been paying forever were to cover.

You are mistaken. The maintenance fees are for the maintenance of the bank accounts of the board of directors.

Re:waste of money (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about a year ago | (#43630493)

Those maintenance fees cover the occasional fried wire, copper theft, or some derp digging where he isn't supposed to. They aren't meant to cover an entire infrastructure being demolished.

Re:waste of money (2)

rogueippacket (1977626) | about a year ago | (#43629347)

You should look into PON [wikipedia.org] as a consumer access technology. No fusion splicing on customer premise, passive splitters, and enough range to cover entire communities with power only provided by the Central Office. All of your points are absolutely true of traditional fiber services, but PON is rising in popularity because it sidesteps all of them while remaining cheaper than copper while still delivering services up to 1 Gbps.
Additionally, VDSL2 with Bonding (and eventually Vectoring) turns traditional cable plant into a very expensive waste of money - cable loops are longer and a shared medium, while copper loops terminate directly from the customer premise to a cabinet or Central Office. This allows the ISP to deliver service with true data rates using existing copper up to and beyond 150 Mbps. Ultimately though, DSL and Cable will be replaced by PON.

Re:waste of money (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about a year ago | (#43630347)

VDSL2 with bonding will likely cap out at practical speeds of 100Mbps or so. If you push the remotes even close to the customer, perhaps 150 or even 200. Cable with DOCSIS 3.1 fully dedicated to IP can push 10 Gbps over node sizes that are similar to GPON. My cableco is already using 10GPON-style node sizes.

VDSL2 has no long-term future, while coax can compete with the best PON fiber we've got today.

Re:waste of money (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#43630203)

No, fiber is far more expensive if you do it proper. That is, using actual glass fibers as opposed to plastic, and using lasers instead of LED. Not even just talking about the materials, actually properly terminating fiber lines requires a bit of skill and some tools that aren't cheap, unlike say voice grade copper that requires a simple punch tool.

Why do YOU get to decide what is "proper"? Who appointed you?

If plastic and LEDs work what the hell is wrong with using that?

Fiber is getting cheaper all the time. People don't steal fiber because the scrap value of glass or plastic is high.
Besides, fiber can support way higher bandwidth, by your own admission in your last paragraph.
And fiber is not a scarce commodity, whereas both copper and wireless spectrum is.

Verizon is still going to have to put fiber back into this town in order to supply bandwidth that people want for their computer connections. Pushing voice to wireless is a short term solution at best, with no growth path, whereas pushing fiber to the premises just makes sense.

Abandoning the copper may make sense. But going all wireless is not sustainable in the long run.

Re:waste of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43628501)

The waste is the lack of imgination in NJ, getting rid of copper? no they had to put copper in from the tower to the main line, and construct more towers, if that is the only way in. And had to lay copper to do that. Such BS. Now wireless is less reliable then line, and easier too clog, means higher priced services, in the US, rather then competeing with Comcast for services, Finally I may read that coomcast dont suck somewhere...

Re:waste of money (2)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about a year ago | (#43628675)

It's one thing to run a trunk line to the towers, and a whole other thing (due to flooding) to dig up and replace the smaller lines to each individual house.

I think they're far more likely to do a better job with modern wireless than POTS anyways. Newer modulation techniques allow for far more bandwidth and signal reliability, especially given that since you aren't dealing with a tiny cell phone with limited battery you could get away with using a higher power transmitter at the customer end, coupled with a UPS for emergency use.

You have to keep in mind as well that POTS also has a finite number of possible links at once, dare I say probably even more limited than wireless. In a POTS connection, you are literally establishing a dedicated circuit from point A to point B by use of a series of automated switchboards. There are only going to be so many circuits that can be active at any one time in any particular area. This is one reason, by the way, that long distance POTS calls are more expensive than long distance wireless calls, and consequently why wireless carriers make no distinction between local and long distance: they use virtual circuits instead of switched circuits.

Remember 10-10-321? (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#43628769)

This is one reason, by the way, that long distance POTS calls are more expensive than long distance wireless calls, and consequently why wireless carriers make no distinction between local and long distance: they use virtual circuits instead of switched circuits.

Is that how the 10-10 dial-around carriers of the late 1990s were able to offer such low rates?

Re:Remember 10-10-321? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43628953)

2600 Hacker's Quarterly has a detailed explanation on the 10-10 services

Re:waste of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43629563)

It's one thing to run a trunk line to the towers, and a whole other thing (due to flooding) to dig up and replace the smaller lines to each individual house....

I believe in most communities in NJ the lines were all above ground.

Re:waste of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43628517)

I would assume they would use copper wire as a medium. However I don't see why I should pay for another service that I do not want or need to go along with the service that I am already paying for just because they both use copper wire. Just like any other business overhead, one would expect them to amortize the cost of the copper installation and maintenance and take that amount out of their DSL fee.

"You must purchase this other service because copper wireline is expensive"! Seems like a ridiculous stance to take.

Re:waste of money (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | about a year ago | (#43628609)

This means that there's now a market chance for anyone willing to put down optic fiber in the area.

Re:waste of money (1)

KenDiPietro (1294220) | about a year ago | (#43628909)

That would be providing Verizon relinquishes the space on the poles - and I wouldn't bet on them doing so.

Re:waste of money (1)

fast turtle (1118037) | about a year ago | (#43628987)

Google! Google! Google! Come to me Google!

Great oppurtunity for Google to roll out fiber to the area and to break Verizon's monopoly by showing them up in the state. Maybe even get the politicians to back em.

Mmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43628411)

...nice and over-subscribed.

Here's a hint, Verizon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43628425)

DIG THE CABLES DOWN, stop putting up pylons, you morons. Take a frikkin' clue from the model all the European telcos and power companies use.

Re:Here's a hint, Verizon (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#43629057)

DIG THE CABLES DOWN, stop putting up pylons, you morons. Take a frikkin' clue from the model all the European telcos and power companies use.

Underground cables aren't a panacea that protect you from all outages -- underground cables are more susceptible to water intrusion, ground shifting (a big issue in an earthquake), digging accidents etc. And outages take longer to fix.

Re:Here's a hint, Verizon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43629209)

Yes, because New Jersey is situated in one of the most notorious quake zones on the planet. :P
The flooding can be dealt with, the quake issue is a non-issue unless you want to bother trying to protect against multi-century massive quakes.
Be honst with yourself here, underground cables in Jersey would most definitely solve a multitude of issues they have with the hung cables. Granted, the task of placing them in the ground is going to be one hell of an endeavor, so it will never get done, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't alleviate some issues.

Re:Here's a hint, Verizon (2)

Average (648) | about a year ago | (#43630267)

DIG THE CABLES DOWN, stop putting up pylons, you morons. Take a frikkin' clue from the model all the European telcos and power companies use.

The advanced Asian countries have faster and cheaper mostly-fiber networks than the Europeans, deal with more natural disasters than they do, and once you get more than a kilometer out of central-business-district Seoul/Tokyo/Osaka, the air is thick with wires everywhichaway.

'That's what they do in Europe' isn't necessarily perfection, either.

Emergency Situations? (3, Informative)

cynop (2023642) | about a year ago | (#43628465)

They better design the network to be able to withstand the extra load that an emergency situation would create. Imagine the panic when a disaster happens and noone can reach anybody for help or to make sure they're ok.

Re:Emergency Situations? (4, Insightful)

djmurdoch (306849) | about a year ago | (#43628505)

That won't be much of a problem. In a disaster, there'll probably be a power failure, and nobody's phone will work at all. Oops, maybe that's not a feature, is it?

Re:Emergency Situations? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43628717)

That won't be much of a problem. In a disaster, there'll probably be a power failure, and nobody's phone will work at all. Oops, maybe that's not a feature, is it?

Really? In the UK, for example, home telephones are not connected to the mains electricity.

Re:Emergency Situations? (1)

Fieryphoenix (1161565) | about a year ago | (#43628743)

Really. This setup is wireless, so what alternate phone power source do you expect will be available? Counterpoint, they could install UPS in every house as part of the equipment.

Re: Emergency Situations? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43630309)

They do that with Fios already.

Re:Emergency Situations? (2)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#43628789)

That's still possible in the U.S., but most people have "upgraded" to fancier phones that require mains electricity to function. A vanilla corded phone will run solely on POTS line power, but line power will only support a draw of up to 20 mA or so at ~12 V terminal voltage, or about 250 mW power.

The biggest category of phones that can't function on line power is cordless phones, which are also the most common. Some households do keep one corded phone around to use in case of power outages; I know my parents do. I would be curious what percentage of households with POTS service have a line-powerable phone.

Re:Emergency Situations? (4, Interesting)

rikkards (98006) | about a year ago | (#43628785)

Let's see:
Ice storm of 98: Cell coverage was spotty. POTS worked fine.
Great east coast blackout: Cell coverage was non-existent. POTS worked fine
Earthquake couple years ago (it was a 6 which is huge for this area): Cell coverage was crap since every body was calling everybody else. POTS... was fine
See a pattern?
At least with the wired power has never been an issue since it gets it from the switch. Before the blackout we had got rid of our wired phone and had only cordless. At that point I was thinking of getting rid of our wired connection. That changed my mind.

Re:Emergency Situations? (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#43629117)

Let's see:
Ice storm of 98: Cell coverage was spotty. POTS worked fine.
Great east coast blackout: Cell coverage was non-existent. POTS worked fine
Earthquake couple years ago (it was a 6 which is huge for this area): Cell coverage was crap since every body was calling everybody else. POTS... was fine
See a pattern?
At least with the wired power has never been an issue since it gets it from the switch. Before the blackout we had got rid of our wired phone and had only cordless. At that point I was thinking of getting rid of our wired connection. That changed my mind.

When I was in an earthquake in Hawaii followed by an island-wide power outage, POTS was useless - took 20 - 30 minutes with the phone off hook just to get a dial-tone, and calling anyone (local or long distance) resulted in an "all circuits are busy" recording. Both AT&T and Verizon wireless cell sites were working for at least 6 hours hours after the power went off, I still couldn't get a voice call through, but I was able to get (slow) internet access, and send SMS messages to check on family/friends (SMS within the same carrier worked fine, sending across carriers had a 10 minute - 1 hour delay).

I did continue to have good DSL internet, until the UPS that was powering my DSL modem ran out of power 30 minutes after the power went out.

POTS doesn't guarantee service in a disaster, and as people continue to abandon POTS and telcos reduce the capacity of the system, it won't get any better.

Re:Emergency Situations? (4, Informative)

Solandri (704621) | about a year ago | (#43629735)

Great east coast blackout: Cell coverage was non-existent. POTS worked fine

POTS works during power failures because the phone line itself carries enough power to operate a low-tech phone. Outside of hotels, I haven't seen one of these in over a decade. Every home phone I've seen is cordless and needs AC power. If you've got a battery backup, you can move it from the computer over to the landline phone to use it. But battery backups in homes are almost as rare as low-tech corded phones.

Cell phones will work for about an hour at least, until the batteries in the towers give out. That should cover 99.99% of blackouts. My cell phone has always worked during a blackout. In the one extended blackout I went through (3 days because fallen trees took out all the power and phone lines), if I went outside to a high spot my cell phone could pick up a distant powered tower, and I could make calls (note that only CDMA can do this; GSM has a range limit of about 20 miles due to being sensitive to lag caused by the speed of light).

Earthquake couple years ago (it was a 6 which is huge for this area): Cell coverage was crap since every body was calling everybody else. POTS... was fine

In the old days, POTS would become useless immediately after a large earthquake. The shaking would knock all the vertically mounted pay phone handsets off the hook. Same for some home phones (the kind with a separate base and handset). These phones would tie up a POTS line even though nobody was calling. If you tried to make a call then, you'd get a fast busy signal (all circuits busy). You had to wait a few minutes for the phone company to time all those lines out and forcibly disconnect them. By which time everyone else was trying to call and it could take an hour before you could finally get a dial tone. TV news would constantly broadcast to resist the urge to call relatives to tell them you're ok and please stay off the phones, so emergency services and those calling 911 could get through first.

So it's not that POTS stands up better in earthquakes. It's that much fewer people use it nowadays, while the infrastructure that still remains was originally designed to handle a much larger volume of calls. As that equipment starts to break down and isn't replaced because the call volume isn't needed, POTS service will become as (un)reliable as cell phone service after these types of widescale disasters.

Re:Emergency Situations? (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | about a year ago | (#43628835)

They better design the network to be able to withstand the extra load that an emergency situation would create.

A good example of what is called the "Nirvana fallacy". Rejecting a good solution because it is not perfect. Do you have any idea what kind of overcapacity you need to handle the case where everyone wants to call everyone else simultaneously? I'm sure the good people of whatever this town is called wouldn't be willing to pay for it.

Re:Emergency Situations? (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#43628911)

..just skimming the article blur, I think they HAD a disaster which is why their phone lines are broken in the first place.

sometimes wireless is better.

Re:Emergency Situations? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43628933)

I don't get your comment. Clearly, an emergency caused the cooper lines to be abandoned, I assume because it failed, so how do you put up with the idea that they need cooper to fail the next storm comes around?
you're saying they should have a system identical to the one they have to withstand emergencies when clearly, that system also failed.

PSC Failure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43628469)

Why would the PSC and FCC permit this?

Re:PSC Failure? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43628509)

Why would the PSC and FCC permit this?

Why wouldn't they?

Dubyaphone (2)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#43628661)

Why would the PSC and FCC permit this?

I guess on the same reasoning as the "Dubyaphone" program that began in 2008 and extended the Lifeline program of the Universal Service Fund to mobile phones.

Re:PSC Failure? (2)

Lehk228 (705449) | about a year ago | (#43629079)

because despite what talk radio may assert, the function of regulating agencies is not to supress improved modern technology. the only time i ever lost any coverage on my cell due to a storm was when a lightning bolt popped the cell tower near my home. blizzards, high wind, and floods all make mincemeat out of copper threads hanging from sticks anyways and buried copper is more durable but takes forever to fix when it does get wrecked.

Reliability... (3, Interesting)

Dancindan84 (1056246) | about a year ago | (#43628495)

As someone who lives in a rural area and is forced to use wireless internet (still have copper for my phone though), the reliability and speed still aren't anywhere near that of wired. Speed may not be an issue for just phone, but the inconsistent connection may well be.

Re:Reliability... (2)

puto (533470) | about a year ago | (#43628585)

Part of living in a rural area. I live in Ocala, Florida, not exactly a huge city, but we do have LTE and I get blazing fast reliable internet.

I routinely get 12-10 megs down and 2 up. I can stream and torrent reliably.

Single digit GB/mo cap (3, Informative)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#43628621)

we do have LTE [...] I routinely get 12-10 megs down and 2 up. I can stream and torrent reliably.

But for how long at a time? With the 5 GB per month transfer cap that was typical of LTE plans last time I checked, a 10 Mbps transfer would eat up the entire month's allowance in one hour.

Re: Reliability... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43628635)

Thats ok. Byt hardly blazing. Im on the lowest speed of ny isp so only 50mbps symmetrical. Blazing is gigabit these days

Re:Reliability... (1)

xclr8r (658786) | about a year ago | (#43629023)

If the rural areas combine forces and lay some initial capital then it can be done. See what UK farmers are doing: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-21442348 [bbc.co.uk]

Re:Reliability... (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about a year ago | (#43629187)

I grew up in Ocala. It wasn't a rural area 20 years ago, it sure as hell isn't today. Hell florida has had full statewide cell phone coverage easily since 2000 that I'm aware of, I don't know how much before that it was.

Cedar Key, Inglis, Yankeetown, Crystal River, Okalawaha ... THOSE are rural areas.

Re:Reliability... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43629599)

That's a long way from blazing fast.

Re:Reliability... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43628955)

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Re:Reliability... (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | about a year ago | (#43629043)

This isn't a rural area; this is outside NYC. It's got reasonable population density, and perhaps more importantly it's the wealthiest region in the entire state of NJ. It's also a very small region -- they could probably blanket the entire town with a single cell tower. I highly doubt they'll have any signal strength issues unless they decide to put the receiver in their freakin basement.

Re:Reliability... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43629205)

As someone who lives in a rural area and is forced to use wireless internet (still have copper for my phone though), the reliability and speed still aren't anywhere near that of wired. Speed may not be an issue for just phone, but the inconsistent connection may well be.

This is absolutely correct. I used Verizon's "Home Fusion" internet service, and it was an utter steaming pile of doo. I forced them to cancel my contract after 3 months. If you wan't to see the carnage, google "home fusion dropping" and see the throngs of unhappy customers.

voice quality (2)

blogagog (1223986) | about a year ago | (#43628521)

Does that mean every phone call from Mantolocking will sound like it's coming from a cell phone? Blech.

Power failures? (4, Insightful)

Theaetetus (590071) | about a year ago | (#43628547)

Of course, one benefit of POTS was that, in a power failure, your landline phone would frequently still work because of the giant piles of batteries at the CO. So, you could still dial 911 if, say, your aged relative's breathing assist machine needed power, or if there was some other medical emergency in the midst of what ever caused the power failure. Kind of ironic that, as a result of a disaster, they'll be somewhat more vulnerable to disasters.

Re:Power failures? (4, Insightful)

intermelt (196274) | about a year ago | (#43628603)

Of course, one benefit of POTS was that, in a power failure, your landline phone would frequently still work because of the giant piles of batteries at the CO. So, you could still dial 911 if, say, your aged relative's breathing assist machine needed power, or if there was some other medical emergency in the midst of what ever caused the power failure. Kind of ironic that, as a result of a disaster, they'll be somewhat more vulnerable to disasters.

This would probably be more reliable than POTS. Every household would have a backup battery. Even the POTS interfaces from the cable company come with a battery installed. Remember when cell phones were just phones and the battery lasted for days? Now imagine a bigger battery.

Also in a disaster they could easily setup mobile towers to replace towers that have been damaged or to add additional capacity. You can't just run new POTS lines in an emergency. The old system could have been down for weeks if your lines went down. Now maybe only hours or days if it even goes down. There is a lot more redundancy now too since you are not relying on a single copper connection to your house. In theory you would have the ability to connect to multiple towers, so it one fails the other will be a backup.

So it is not at all more vulnerable to disasters.

Re:Power failures? (3, Informative)

jittles (1613415) | about a year ago | (#43628901)

Of course, one benefit of POTS was that, in a power failure, your landline phone would frequently still work because of the giant piles of batteries at the CO. So, you could still dial 911 if, say, your aged relative's breathing assist machine needed power, or if there was some other medical emergency in the midst of what ever caused the power failure. Kind of ironic that, as a result of a disaster, they'll be somewhat more vulnerable to disasters.

This would probably be more reliable than POTS. Every household would have a backup battery. Even the POTS interfaces from the cable company come with a battery installed. Remember when cell phones were just phones and the battery lasted for days? Now imagine a bigger battery.

Also in a disaster they could easily setup mobile towers to replace towers that have been damaged or to add additional capacity. You can't just run new POTS lines in an emergency. The old system could have been down for weeks if your lines went down. Now maybe only hours or days if it even goes down. There is a lot more redundancy now too since you are not relying on a single copper connection to your house. In theory you would have the ability to connect to multiple towers, so it one fails the other will be a backup.

So it is not at all more vulnerable to disasters.

I had one of these cellular home phones when I lived in a South American country. After the president of said country was temporarily ousted by the military, I carried around said phone for days in the event that the US Embassy needed to get a hold of me. The battery did indeed last for days. In fact it had to, power went out on a regular basis and no one would have phone service without a battery. It was quite handy, I will say. Thankfully they never had to get a hold of me.

Re:Power failures? (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about a year ago | (#43629207)

This would probably be more reliable than POTS. Every household would have a backup battery. Even the POTS interfaces from the cable company come with a battery installed.

'Right, because a bunch of batteries in random homes that are never serviced or replaced are going to work much better than the banks at the CO that are managed by people that know what they are doing ... and also have big ass generators to actually power the system. The batteries at your CO are a 5 minute solution to cover until the generators kick in.

This is an example of a time when decentralization is fucking stupid, its just as stupid as everyone having their own personal power plant in their basement.

Re:Power failures? (2)

robot256 (1635039) | about a year ago | (#43628619)

This is not necessarily true anymore. Several times our neighbors' phones went out with the power, but our FIOS phone and cell phones still worked (and continued to work when I plugged our terminal into a bigger UPS). I chalk it up to a bad/insufficient UPS on the copper-to-fiber switches somewhere upstream. We don't get copper back to the switch board anymore.

Also, what Verizon didn't say was how many customers in the town were actually subscribed to copper landlines before the storm. It's possibly most of them had cut the cord already.

Re:Power failures? (4, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#43628859)

Yes, an underappreciated aspect of the "copper" network, at least in the U.S., is that it's increasingly only a legacy last-mile network: there's copper under the streets of your subdivision, but once it gets out of the subdivision it's no longer on copper anymore.

If you still have a modem lying around and something to dial up to, you can get a rough idea of how far your copper goes by seeing if you can actually get 56.6 kbps downstream. The official phone standard only supports a band of frequencies (300-3000 Hz) sufficient to squeeze in about 30-35 kbps of data transfer. The 56kbps standard exploits the larger physical capacity of copper lines to push more data [michael-henderson.us] in the downstream direction, by replacing the usual DAC on the phone-company end with a codec that directly switches line voltages, with the effect of using more of the copper's bandwidth... as long as it doesn't go through another filter at any point in the process, in which case you won't be able to get better than 33.6.

An easily solvable problem. (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about a year ago | (#43628847)

Wireless infrastructure still has battery backups there's nothing different there from a POTS. The only difference here is how to power the endpoint devices since the system won't power them directly. There's no reason why this couldn't be battery powered. This is actually how FTTH endpoints are usually setup, with a local battery backup at the home ensuring voice over the fibre line keeps running when your power doesn't.

There are off the shelf solutions for this problem which work quite well.

Re:An easily solvable problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43628923)

These devices do have batteries. The problem is that the week after the storm most cell carriers service was down for about a week after sandy hit. POTS worked fine even though we didn't have power for two weeks.

Re:An easily solvable problem. (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about a year ago | (#43629227)

Until next year ... when your mini-UPS battery doesn't hold a charge for shit ...

How ofter do you see these batteries replaced? Whats that? Never? Oh yea, thats exactly how often TimeWarner replaces their VoIP units in homes ...

Off-the-shelf solutions you refer to work for shit. Just because you think you know how reliable something is, doesn't make it true. You're pretending to live in a fantasy world of perfect UPSes ...

Managing 100,000 UPSes that are NEVER serviced is going to be WAY WAY less reliable than 10 at a data center and a handful scattered around the various junction boxes as required, with regular maintenance.

Re:Power failures? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43629089)

Most power failures are local rather than regional, because of local failures like blown transformers or local power line failures. In that case, POTS doesn't even need the giant pile of batteries - the central office typically has power when your neighborhood doesn't, and has proper backup power (the pile of batteries) in case its neighborhood is down. But, yeah, this does make them more vulnerable to disasters.

Re:Power failures? (2)

nine-times (778537) | about a year ago | (#43629107)

It also reminds me of the discussion of the cell phone network going out after the bombing in Boston. A lot of people were taking the attitude, "Well it's fine for the cell phone network to go out in an emergency. It's not serious infrastructure. You shouldn't be relying on cell phones." As thought the cell phones were toys for teenagers to post Facebook posts, while landlines were for "real" stuff.

I agree with the decision to not roll copper. (2)

robbak (775424) | about a year ago | (#43628575)

Rolling out new copper in this day and age would be madness. But the decision to rely on wireless as anything other than a short-term emergency measure is wrong. They should, of course, be rolling out new fiber as a matter of urgency.

Re:I agree with the decision to not roll copper. (1)

Kjella (173770) | about a year ago | (#43629845)

Rolling out new copper in this day and age would be madness. But the decision to rely on wireless as anything other than a short-term emergency measure is wrong. They should, of course, be rolling out new fiber as a matter of urgency.

Well, it sounds like a long haul of fiber for very few customers and anything that does havoc on the copper wires might do the same for fiber optic wires as well.

"If you go down the block, there are people that are using other technologies so I can spend a fortune running copper down there and have nobody use it," (...) Verizon has its fiber-optic network in other parts of Ocean County's barrier peninsula hit hard by Sandy, including Ortley Beach, Normandy Beach and Brick. There are no plans to bring fiber to Mantoloking.

This is going to happen a lot, here in Norway they're planning a similar phase-out of copper - actually the whole central parts of the country by 2017, cannibalizing for spare parts to run the outskirts - but they're not going to lay fiber to everyone that had copper. The rest will get some form of wireless service.

Re:Wireless service has horrible data caps. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43630173)

Too bad wireless service has such low data caps. Even with a 10GB cap which is over $100 USD a month you won't be doing much if any streaming video.

Same thing in Fire Island. Just one problem... (2)

doglikegroove (979723) | about a year ago | (#43628583)

They're doing the same thing on Fire Island. From what I heard, they were planning to run FiOS before Sandy, so I imagine this is just a stop-gap.

Which would be fine, save for one problem: their coverage *sucks* out there. When the summer season hits in less than a month, we're screwed.

Terrible move (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43628589)

You can't offer everyone 100Mbit internet service over a 3G LTE network (LTE in the US is not 4G). Comcast will eat Verizon's lunch once the whole town is on the cellular net, with no doubt will be incapable fo handling the load. People will also not accept paying $500/month for 50GB when wireline services are essentially unlimited.

Either that will happen, or Comcast will see an opportunity to adopt a capped pricing model and cap their wireline service at 50GB like AT&T does with U-Verse and DSL, but I somehow doubt that will happen.

Re:Terrible move (2)

robot256 (1635039) | about a year ago | (#43628647)

Does Comcast need to rebuild all their infrastructure too? There may not be any landline game in town for some time.

The engineers at Verizon aren't complete idiots, you know. I'm sure they've calculated the cost of adding some cells to handle the demand and found it cheaper than running new copper. And if the business drones are worth the suits on their backs they'll be worried about Comcast poaching customers, so they wouldn't balk at *some* investment to recover from a disaster with some of their reputation intact.

Re:Terrible move (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43628915)

Mantoloking is a town of 296 people(wikipedia). Verizon is not worrying about losing 300 POTS customers.

Re:Terrible move (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | about a year ago | (#43629113)

From the looks of it, it would take about 10,000 feet of fiber to cover it. Unfortunately, as a barrier island they would likely have problems making it reliable-- either dig deep or do it cheap. If the community cares, they could set up a co-op with whatever infrastructure they choose.

Re:Terrible move (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year ago | (#43629295)

they wouldn't balk at *some* investment to recover from a disaster with some of their reputation intact

I've spoken with folks who have made these sorts of decisions in the past at Verizon. The question is entirely dependent on whether the ROI in Mantaloking is higher than investing that same money in a different location. The reputation hit can be factored into the equation.

They have a monopoly, so there's not a competitive pressure, and rarely do they get mandates on their regulated monopoly.

OMG, must invest, better head explore (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43628615)

USA companies are just dumb.
USA lawmakers are just dumb.

I have no clue why you put up with that?

Not even trying anymore. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43628625)

No wireless network, particularly a bad wireless network, is substitute in all weathers for a wired network.

Clearly they're not even trying to compete there anymore. It's amazing. Given the opportunity to rebuild the network, they don't want to. Should have run fiber-optics underground, but no. They think it's not worth the money to invest in new infrastructure, so they won't: they'll leave it to rot and move people on to something that we all know won't work when it counts.

America, it really looks like your only hope is Google Fiber.

Vacation community (1)

beanpoppa (1305757) | about a year ago | (#43629029)

The area that they are talking about is very much a seasonal residence. Most people I know in those areas don't have landline service anyway. They cut the cord on that years ago. It's not worth the investment if only 30% of the residences will take up the service anyway.

Re:Not even trying anymore. (1)

Shadowmist (57488) | about a year ago | (#43629583)

America, it really looks like your only hope is Google Fiber.

Given the limited reach and aims of Google, it's not much of a hope.

3rd world status? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43628677)

Isn't it another proof that the US slowly sink to 3rd world status for most of their citizens? The only other countries with no copper infrastructures are in Africa (for both historic and economical reasons). But thinking that one of the biggest companies in the US doesn't have the means to install proper infrastructure is ludicrous and shameful.

Wireless will *not* have the same bandwidth as wired connections. And asking each home to have spare battery power in case of emergency is shifting the burden onto the individuals, but with much less efficiency.

Proof of disintegration of the american society.

Insurance windfall result in skyrocketing earnings (4, Insightful)

Aaron B Lingwood (1288412) | about a year ago | (#43628713)

Verizon has likely pocketed tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars in insurance to cover loss of business and to 'make good' its infrastructure. Verizon then neglects to make good and proceeds with building an inferior alternative at a fraction of the cost.

It would be interesting to see if the insurance company paid for the cost of this new infrastructure; provided funds to the value of the existing infrastructure; or provided funds for the replacement cost of the existing infrastructure. In the case of the latter two, has Verizon returned the unspent portion to the insurance company (and are they required to?) or simply added this windfall to their bottom line.

It also makes me wonder how much federal and state funding was used to build this network.

Re:Insurance windfall result in skyrocketing earni (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43628971)

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Re:Insurance windfall result in skyrocketing earni (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43629963)

Common practice for telcos is to self insure. Verizon is most likely paying for any reconstruction out of their pockets.

This is great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43628803)

Mantoloking, NJ is one of those Inlet towns that live on a thin strip of land. It's very expensive to run and maintain wires there. I think wireless is a much more effective way to deliver telecommunications. Keep the wires on the New Jersey mainland.

Emerging economies in Africa and India are going all wireless from the start. It costs way more to run and maintain wires, and they never had wires to begin with.

Too much wireless? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43628829)

Living in a neighborhood with many other wifi users, I sure can notice my wireless signal degrade in quality when lots of other wifi traffic is also taking place... To switch all internet and telephone to cellular in a high-populated dense area I would imagine similar problems would occur. Most people use cellular for basic things, but when they are switching all traffic and phone, you have to think of how many people stream HDTV and other high-bandwidth traffic now all going cellular.

I sure would be interested to see a follow up article to this. How well it worked out mainly.

Re:Too much wireless? (1)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43629279)

You would actually benefit from a more homogeneous network assuming everyone used Verizons wireless access points vs adding their own in. Properly configured wireless networks can load balance the signal and configure for the least noise. The good routers are pretty sophisticated and reliable at doing this.

Then Abolish Monopoly Privileges (2)

littlewink (996298) | about a year ago | (#43628925)

If they refuse to run copper or cable then the local government should terminate their monopoly privileges and either allow another supplier to lay the wires or open service to full free market competition.

Re:Then Abolish Monopoly Privileges (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43629441)

This comment makes me sad. :( The reason they have/had a monopoly has nothing to do with the government. It has to do with the fact that running lots of copper wires underground is very expensive.

I find the lack of reliable last miles disturbing (2)

DigitalSorceress (156609) | about a year ago | (#43629055)

Seriously, wireless is great for when I'm out and about and all I have is my cell phone or when I'm making a quick, temporary connection with the laptop, but I would not feel comfortable living somewhere I couldn't have a physical last mile connection - fiber or cable is fine, (though I'd pay for BOTH to have redundant last mile connections)

I get that it's cheaper to go wireless, but there appears to be a great divide between Internet reliability and speed - those with last mile wired connections and those with only wireless options (satellite of local wireless carriers) and in our mad rush to make things more convenient, we're also making them slower and less reliable than they could be.

I suppose I could look at it another way - it would cost WAY MORE than the phone company could hope to make back to re-run copper, so from a business sense, I guess this works for them.

However, if I were Verizon, I'd be rolling out the fiber to premises, and give Comcast something to worry about... but instead, they're abandoning FIOS... go figure.
 

It's all about revenue (1)

Grand Facade (35180) | about a year ago | (#43629215)

POTTS lines are heavily regulated as to rates and service levels, this is why the connection rates are cheap and anything more than lifeline service is heavily levied.
The phone company is obligated to provide 911 service and lifeline at regulated rates.
This presents a business model with limited revenue and high maintenance liability, because folks that rely on this model don't use the phone excessively and are very careful about long distance charges.

With wireless service the phone co is no longer legally obligated for 24/7/365 functional service and has dramatically reduced it's maintenance costs (as it can over subscribe it's service capabilities) and skirts the regulated fee structure. On top of that they can bring in more revenue by charging an unregulated monthly flat rate even if they give free LD.

It's all about the money....... Look at the wireless model, over subscribed, 2-3 times the monthly rates (plus overages), and now since everyone has to have a phone there are 3-5 (or more) accounts per household where there used to be only 1-2. PLUS they can cripple the phones and nickle and dime you for "features" enabled. KachING!

On the west coast Verizon sold off all of it's buried wire and fiber.....

Re:It's all about revenue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43630455)

This event is an embarrassment for a supposedly first-world nation. A storm wiping out all the communications infrastructure in a town turns into a windfall for an exploitative opportunist with government backing.

I wonder about latency.... (2)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43629265)

It must be entertaining to play quake. Then again if Verizon used really good AP's maybe its not much different.

Microwaves scare me.. (0)

GigaBurglar (2465952) | about a year ago | (#43629397)

At 800 watts, or even less, I can cook food with it - I wonder what the effect of all that microwave EMF has on living tissue.. I wonder what kind of effect EMF has on electrical based systems - such as my brain. It's okay though telecommunications companies are all over that shit by funding the appropriate research and we all know that electromagnetism has absolutely no bearing on electrical systems - it can't even excite a molecular structure.

Now.. I'm off to have a wholly legitimate KFC with a diet Coke with a healthy does of approved E numbers.

I'm slowly beginning to realise Slashdot is full of normal people.

Densely populated? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43629505)

Mantoloking has barely a square kilometer of land with under 300 people. While certainly not rural, it's among the least-densely populated areas of the state! This place is more like a neighborhood than a whole town. The new service only has a few dozen subscribers so far, but it's hard to imagine that there are more than 100-200 potential customers (each household being a single customer). I can easily see the whole area served by a single cell tower.

dom

Use it, or lose it (2)

stox (131684) | about a year ago | (#43629719)

I think Verizon should forfeit their rights to the landline infrastructure and associated rights of way. These can, in turn, be rewarded to someone who can maintain and improve upon them.

Re: Use it, or lose it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43629873)

I agree with you. Further, they shouldn't be able to cherry pick which communities they want to service. Shouldn't they forfeit on a state wide basis?

During Ike, we found out (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about a year ago | (#43630301)

That copper to home did not mean copper from the plant to home.

In newer areas, the power failed after six hours. The phone company had fiber to a local box which had batteries and copper to the houses.

In my older area of town, the power stayed on to the phone (but we lacked electrical power for 3 weeks and only old dumb phones worked- anything with a power plug didn't).

I think the days of copper to home are going away. Hopefully we can get fiber to the home.

I would prefer to see one wide fiber pipe which all the telephone companies share and use and compete for your service on. I think a pure wireless approach won't work at times.

town is too small to be worth it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43630409)

For all the people talking about rolling out fiber or Google coming in, Mantoloking only had around 300 residents before the storm so it really is not worth the money for any company to try and roll out fiber.

Mantoloking (1)

westlake (615356) | about a year ago | (#43630615)

Mantoloking is a Jersey Shore community situated on the Barnegat Peninsula, also known as Barnegat Bay Island, a long, narrow barrier island that separates Barnegat Bay from the Atlantic Ocean.

As of the 2000 Census, Mantoloking was the wealthiest community in the state of New Jersey with a per capita money income of $114,017 as of 1999, an increase of 29.8% from the $87,830 recorded in 1989. It was ranked as the 15th highest-income place in the United States.

Mantoloking, New Jersey [wikipedia.org]

Population 300. As a summer resort, 5,000.

Anything you build here will be exposed and vulnerable, I am not sure that trenching cable solves that problem.

Most of what you build here will see little or no use eight to nine months out of the year --- and little or no return on your investment.

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