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Lumen Lead Cables: CFO Statements About Telecom Network

August 1, 2023 by Joe Panettieri

How much lead cable does Lumen Technologies' network contain? The telecom company, formerly known as CenturyLink, answered that question during Lumen's Q2 2023 earnings call on August 1, 2023.


The lead-cable topic has swirled since early July 2023, when a Wall Street Journal report raised concerns about some U.S. telecom networks containing toxic lead cables. Telecom companies laid the lead cables decades ago and thousands were left behind, posing a hidden health hazard today, the report said.

Chris Stansbury, CFO, Lumen

Fast forward to Lumen's earnings call on August 1, 2023. Here's what CFO Chris Stansbury had to say about the situation: "We began phasing out lead sheet cables from our network infrastructure during the 1950s. And based on our initial analysis, we currently estimate that less than 5% of our approximately 700,000-mile copper network contained lead, of which we believe the majority, is buried and conduit-based infrastructure."

Stansbury also emphasized Lumen's commitment to employee and public safety. He stated: "We thoughtfully manage our network to ensure the health and safety of our employees and the communities we serve. We also regularly assess our safety protocols and meet established regulatory and scientific standards related to potential lead exposure for workers. Moving forward, we're committed to working with independent experts, regulators and our industry peers to maintain our positive track record of safety and compliance."

So what's next? A House lawmaker, Rep. Pat Ryan of New York, in July 2023 requested a congressional hearing about lead-sheathed cables. We'll be listening for updates.

RelatedSee our regularly updated timeline tracking the lead cable story.

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One comment on “Lumen Lead Cables: CFO Statements About Telecom Network”

  1. Update: During a Goldman Sachs conference on September 7, 2023, an attendee asked Lumen the following question, and Lumen CFO Chris Stansbury offered the following response...

    Question: "We had this curveball of an issue around lead sheathing in legacy telecom networks that popped up. Does that in any way influence the discussions you have with creditors about what you need to do with the debt structure and the extent to which it's liability?"

    Lumen CFO Chris Stansbury: It was obviously a real concern, and it's unfortunate, I think, the reporting that took place around that. But look, we take the safety of our employees and our customers very seriously. If you look back through history, we really haven't seen any claims that would suggest that there was a problem. But that aside, what we disclosed on the earnings call was that, of our copper footprint, less than 5% was lead sheathed or is lead sheathed, and it is less than 5%, and we'll get more precise about that over time. But the majority of that is either subterranean and/or conduit based.

    And there's, I think, real debate that isn't going to get solved anytime soon as to whether disturbing that's actually a good or a bad thing. And so that has to play itself out. We'll obviously participate in those conversations, but the net of all of it is, I think, the exposure for us is very low.

    Source: Seeking Alpha.


    Joe Panettieri
    Editorial Director
    Sustainable Tech Partner

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