Miles of copper is ruined not only in the cable vault at Broad Street, but also at 20 or so manholes around the area. Even worse, paper insulation in the copper wiring sucks water through the cabling from capillary action, destroying cabling even in dry areas. Levendos says it’s “far too tedious, time consuming, and not effective of a process to try and put this infrastructure back together,” so Verizon’s taking the opportunity to rewire with fiber optics instead. Service has been restored to FiOS customers for over a week — unlike copper, fiber optics aren’t damaged by the water. As part of this process, crews have already pulled fiber up the major corridors — including Water, Broad, and Pearl Streets — to ultimately connect the fiber network to buildings.
Despite the progress, huge challenges remain. While fiber optic cabling weathered the storm, the electronics that send light through them are vulnerable to water. Verizon has to analyze the extent of damage done to equipment in buildings they serve and see how much work remains to hook up areas without FiOS. Once fiber is brought to a building’s doorstep, workers still must bring service to each and every unit. Verizon wouldn’t give me a number, but thousands served by copper-based phone and DSL remain without service to this day in Lower Manhattan. For them, the wait will surely continue as the process of bringing fiber up floor by floor progresses….