February 28, 2024

Telecomunications: High fiber diet

Old copper-wire phone technology is disappearing. Should upstart phone providers be allowed to piggyback on the new fiber networks the traditional powerhouse phone providers are installing?

Mike Vogel | 1/28/2015


Incumbent Local Exchange Company — A phone company that was providing local phone service before June 30, 1995. The three largest in Florida are AT&T, CenturyLink and Verizon. The smaller ones — often called rural ILECs — are Frontier Communications of the South, FairPoint Communications, ITS Telecommunications Systems, NEF COM, TDS Telecom/Quincy Telephone, Smart City Telecom and, the largest, Windstream. In 2013, the incumbents became a minority in the wireline business market in Florida for the first time when CLECs took a 51% share. But ILECs and CLECs combined lost 7% of traditional phone lines in 2013 as people switched to mobiles or cable companies. A company can be an ILEC in its home market while being a CLEC in a different market.


Competitive Local Exchange Company — A carrier that began providing local phone service after July 1, 1995. There are upward of 290 operating in Florida. Traditionally, they focus on business customers. Their share of the wireline residential market, not counting the cable industry, in Florida is around 2%. Their share in the business market now eclipses that of the ILECs.

Business Lines: The Trends

Between 2008 and 2013: 

51 % — The share of business lines held by cable and non-traditional telecom companies (CLECs), up from 30%.

16 % — The business line market of "new tech" fiber and VoIP, up from about 4%. "Old-tech" copper wire accounted for 96% of all business lines in 2008.

9.7 % — Percentage drop in number of business lines, from 3.93 million to 3.55 million.

Mobile Subscribers: Growth, Growth, Growth

19 million — Mobile phone use has soared in Florida, with the number of mobile subscribers in the state climbing 51% since 2005 to roughly 19 million.

40 % — According to federal data, 40% of Florida households are wireless only; just 6.5% rely solely on a land line.

83 % — Mobiles are the phone service of choice for the poor. Since 2007, participants in a carrier-subsidized program for low-income people have moved from 98% on land lines to 83% on wireless.

Land Lines: The Trends

Trend No. 1: Fewer

18% — Decrease in the number of residential land lines between 2008 and 2013. In 2013, 1 million fewer Floridians had a land line than in 2008.

Trend No. 2: Shift in Operation

76% — In 2008, traditional telecom companies like AT&T and Verizon (so-called "ILECs") held more than three-quarters of all residential land lines in Florida.

51% — By 2013, the share of all residential lines in Florida held by traditional telecom companies had shrunk to just over half.

Trend No. 3: Technological Shift

85% — In 2008, eight of 10 of all land lines in Florida were "old tech" copper wire linked by circuits and switches.

57% — By 2013, only six out of 10 land lines in Florida were "old tech" as the market shifted toward "new tech" — fiber with VoIP (voice over internet protocol).


Tags: Business Services, Technology/Innovation

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