Friday, July 28, 2023 - House Hearings on Telecom Lead Cables?: A House lawmaker, Rep. Pat Ryan of New York, requested a congressional hearing about lead-sheathed cables that telecom companies have left behind across the U.S., The Wall Street Journal reported. In a letter addressed to the chairs of the House Energy and Commerce and the House Transportation and Infrastructure committees, Ryan asked that the chief executives of major telecom companies answer questions about, among other things, the location of lead cables and plans for mitigating any risk, the report said.
Washington Inquiry: Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) requested that USTelecom -- a telecom association -- respond to the following questions by July 25, 2023:
Do the companies know the locations and mileage of lead-sheathed cables that they own or for which are responsible — whether aerial, underwater, or underground? Are there maps of the locations? If not, what plans do the companies have to identify the location of the cables?
Why have the companies that knew about the cables — and the potential exposure risks they pose — failed to monitor them or act?
What plans do the companies have to address the environmental and public health issues posed by the cables? Specifically, will the companies commit to:
Testing for soil, water, and other contamination caused by the cables?
Remediating any contamin?
Warning communities of the potential hazards the cables pose?
Guaranteeing medical treatment and compensation to anyone harmed by lead poisoning caused by the cables?
Tuesday, July 18, 2023: Less than 10% of AT&T's nationwide copper-wire telecom network has lead-clad cables, and the company disagrees with The Wall Street Journal's reporting on the matter, according to an AT&T court filing plus an internal email from CEO John Stankey to employees.
Monday, July 17, 2023: Multiple Updates...
Estimated Exposure: TDS Telecommunications has located approximately 10 miles of lead-covered cables in its network, the company disclosed. TDS Telecom is "identifying next steps to address the very limited amount of lead cabling it estimates is in its network. TDS Telecom strives to follow all applicable local, state, and federal laws where it provides service," the company said.
Telecom stock downgrade: Citi analyst Michael Rollins cut shares in AT&T (NYSE: $T), Frontier Communications (NASDAQ: $FYBR) and Telephone and Data Systems (NYSE: $TDS) to neutral/high risk amid concerns about that their copper networks may contain significant amounts of toxic lead sheathing. Source: SeekingAlpha.
30-Year low: AT&T shares fell nearly 7% to hit their lowest level in 30 years amid concerns that the telecom giant left toxic lead cables buried across the U.S. Source: Reuters.
Lead Cables and Telecom Investigations: Week 1
Friday, July 14, 2023: Multiple updates...
Telecom stock downgrade: JPMorgan downgraded AT&T shares, citing worries over its wireless and broadband segments -- and some concerns about potential lead sheathing business risks. AT&T likely has the largest exposure to the lead issue, given that its local exchange carrier business covers roughly 40% of the homes in the U.S. and the presence of its long haul network, JPMorgan said. Source: SeekingAlpha.
Lead Cable cleanup costs: It could cost $59 billion to remove the lead cables left behind by phone companies. Source: The Wall Street Journal.
The telecom industry's response: "The U.S. telecommunications industry stands ready to engage constructively on this issue,” according to USTelecom, an association of telecom and broadband service providers.
Note: This story is updated regularly. Check back for continued timeline updates. Read from the bottom up for the overall chronology of events.