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8A | LAREDO MORNING TIMES NATIONAL MONDAY, JUNE 12, 2006 Verizon bets on replacing Insurance limbo delays telephone lines with fiber rebuilding By RUKMINI CALLIMACHI By PETER SVENSSON about 400,000 homes connected ASSOCIATED PRESS ASSOCIATED PRESS as of April. NEW ORLEANS — The own- “This is a once-in-a-lifetime ers of the sagging, flood-stained MASSAPEQUA PARK, N.Y. — project,” said Paul Lacouture, home aren’t in. Above the front Lisa Donohue squats on the floor Verizon’s vice president of engi- door, a banner explains their ab- with her 2-year-old son Calum neering and technology. sence, and the lack of progress: in front of their high-definition Chief among fiber’s advan- “Allstate paid $10,113.34 on this TV, watching a children’s cartoon. tages is its almost unlimited ca- house for storm damage.” “What kind of animal is pacity to carry information, Like the home next to it and Franklin?” she asks him. Calum which Verizon only nibbles at the one after that, the house was is a little under the weather, and with its current system: It lights disemboweled nine months ago his eyes droop a bit, but they stay Photo by Mark Lennihan | AP fiber to the home with just three by Hurricane Katrina. The force fixed on the turtle on the screen. AVerizon lineman grips the strands con- laser beams, though the fiber can of the gushing water punched the Calum probably doesn’t know, tained in a fiber optic cable in Massape- carry many more. refrigerator into the kitchen wall, but the image of Franklin’s bright qua Park, N.Y. The single beam that carries and it still sits leaning through green skin is brought to him not video (the others carry data and the house’s broken ribcage. In- by cable, satellite, or broadcast, telephone calls to and from the side, mud has hardened into a but by pulses of light that go clear line of sight to the satellite, home) has more capacity than an crusty carpet, covering a design- straight to his home here on sub- she says. entire coaxial cable of the kind er sofa and a leather swivel chair. urban Long Island from a tele- The family pays about $220 a used by cable companies. “I want people to drive by my phone-company building miles month for TV, phone, high-speed In practical terms, that means home and decide for themselves: away, via optical fiber. Internet service and two cell better image quality, because the Could I repair this for $10,000?” Optical fiber — strands of glass phones, which she says is cheap- digital TV channels don’t need to asks Eric Moskau, the home’s ex- 15 times thinner than a human er than what they were paying be degraded to save bandwidth. iled owner who had over $1.2 mil- hair — have been used by before, when they had cable. “If you’re watching a program, lion in coverage on his 3,000- telecommunications companies “It comes as one bill, which is you see the faces elongate, smear square-foot home. over long-haul routes since the nice because I don’t have to re- out” on digital cable, says Alex Behind the sign he hung from 1980s. member to pay four times,” Dono- Fazi, who as owner of a videog- his porch is a story all-too-com- Now, Verizon Communica- hue says. raphy studio in nearby Wantagh mon in this once-posh neighbor- tions Inc., is making a big and ex- Factors like that have made has a keen eye for video quality. Photo by Mark Lennihan | AP hood of pummeled homes: Even pensive bet on replacing the net- Verizon’s FiOS TV a success in He said he’ll sign up for fiber TV Lisa Donohue and her son Calum, 2, watch cartoons at their home in Massapequa New Orleans’ affluent homeown- work of copper wires that has the few areas where it’s available, as soon as it’s available in his Park, N.Y.The Donohue’s television signal comes to the house over a fiber optic ca- ers, who thought they had done provided phone service since the judging by Verizon’s data. It has area. ble installed recently by the Verizon phone company. the right thing by properly insur- 19th century with fiber, giving it said that 6.5 percent of house- In a similar way, fiber pro- ing their investment, are finding the capability to carry TV and su- holds in Massapequa Park signed vides almost limitless Internet that technicalities are keeping per-fast Internet service in the up for TV in the first three connection speeds. With current though: Verizon already raised with fiber,” Lacouture said. them from securing enough from bargain. months after its launch on Jan. technology, Verizon could provide them once (from 5 mbps to 10 Verizon expects to cut costs their insurers to rebuild. Investors have been skeptical 24. That figure is disputed by Ca- download speeds of 644 megabits mbps at the lowest tier) in New for its outside equipment by 40 The insurance industry says it of the plans, sending Verizon’s blevision Systems Corp., the in- per second, a bigger step up from York, New Jersey and Connecti- percent by switching to fiber. But has settled over 90 percent of its stock down by about 20 percent cumbent cable company, which DSL at 1.5 mbps than DSL is a cut — the three states where it to get there, it has to spend big. Hurricane Katrina claims, prov- since the rollout started last year, said it had a net loss of less than step up from dial-up. competes with Cablevision, a Verizon’s average cost of ing it’s meeting its obligations to and other phone companies have 2 percent in the area. But for now, the maximum technologically sophisticated pulling fiber down a street was policyholders. But consumer ad- not made the same gamble. Verizon has permission to sell speed Verizon sells is 30 mbps company that provides down- $1,400 per home at the beginning vocates say insurers settled nu- Donohue, however, is happy with TV service in about 80 commu- for small businesses, or 20 mbps loads at up to 30 mbps. of last year, not including the cost merous claims for only a fraction the service Verizon calls FiOS. nities in New York, Florida, Mass- for homes. Apart from capacity, fiber has of actually connecting the homes. of the actual damages, using nu- “With cable, the picture would achusetts, Maryland and Vir- “Right now there are not a lot the advantage of being immune The target cost this year is $890 merous exclusions to reduce pay- stop. Or we’d have those digital ginia. It has fiber available for of applications online that de- to interference and crosstalk, and per home, reflecting improve- outs. Insurance modeling firm ISO things going,” she says, gesturing phone and Internet service in mand 100 megabits,” Lacouture nearly immune to rain, which can ments in materials and tech- estimates Louisiana had $24.3 bil- to mimic the picture breaking up. many more — 3 million homes. said. That’s true, but probably in cause problems on the phone net- niques. If it reaches its target of lion in insured losses, but the state “We could get satellite, but our Verizon doesn’t say how many large part due to the lack of home work. laying fiber by another 3 million department of insurance says only only tree in the garden is in the homes are connected, but analy- connections at that speed — a “Customer reports have homes by the end of the year, $12.5 billion had been paid out as southwest corner, so we’d have to sis of a tally by research firm RVA chicken and egg situation. dropped by a factor of four or five that’s a cost of $2.7 billion — about of the end of April, the last month chop our only tree down” to get a LLC indicates that Verizon had Speeds may be going up soon, when we’ve replaced the copper half of Verizon’s annual earnings. for which figures were available.
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