Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) is teaming with New York City to test a way to more quickly deploy fiber in the city. According to Bloomberg, this pilot program will use a technique called “micro-trenching” that will allow Verizon to carve shallow grooves in the ground to deploy fiber. The trial will start in 12 sites across five boroughs and then the company and the government will decide whether to expand the program.
Verizon is hoping to gain an advantage over its competitors such as RCN or Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) by being able to sell faster speed Internet services and television service in more parts of the city. However, the micro-trenching will provide a large enough groove in the ground for other providers besides Verizon to also deploy their cables. New York City officials have said that the program is open to other providers that want to participate.
The news is not particularly surpising considering Verizon announced last year that the focus for FiOS will be on increasing the penetration in existing markets and migrating problem copper-based customers to fiber, rather than expanding its FiOS footprint.
Verizon’s copper-to-fiber migration program is particularly critical in New York City, where much of the company’s copper facilities were damaged beyond repair during Hurricane Sandy.
Micro-trenching is taking hold with other providers as well. TeliaSonera began testing the process in 2011 via its subsidiary, Skanova, outside Stockholm. And Clearfield has used the method to install its FieldShield pushable fiber product to at least one customer’s tower in the Midwest.
“Another area was we were able to install was in streets of Chicago,” Cheri Beranek, president and CEO of Clearfield, told FierceTelecom in a recent interview. “A deployment (was needed) for that tower that wouldn’t disrupt traffic…. We took micro-trenching technology, (made) a simple saw cut in the sidewalk, laid 10 mm microduct through the trench, and delivered service in a couple hours…. We never even closed traffic.”