Consolidated’s CEO says rural nature limited its lead cable deployments

Aug. 10, 2023
Telco finds that lead makes up a tiny portion of its copper network.

Consolidated is the latest telco to respond to a recent article series spearheaded by the Wall Street Journal on the presence of lead-sheathed copper cables in the largest telecom networks.

The lead copper cable issue came to light after an investigative series published by the Wall Street Journal revealed the presence of 2,000 lead cables across the country. According to the report, several abandoned lines run through or under rivers, streams, and lakes that serve as community drinking water sources. What’s more, the report found the presence of these cables in local neighborhoods, playgrounds, and greenways where children may be exposed to them.

During its second-quarter call, Consolidated told investors that lead-sheathed copper is not a significant factor in its network.

Bob Udell, CEO of Consolidated, said that the telco takes steps to protect its workforce and customer base. “First, we take the health and safety of our workers and the communities in which we live and operate very seriously,” he said. “Based on our most current information, we estimate that less than 1% of the company's 100,000-mile copper network contains cable with lead sheathing.”

Udell said that the telco’s rural nature meant that many of its network deployments were conducted at a time when lead-clad cables were beginning to be phased out. “We have not installed lead-sheathed cables for more than 50 years,” he said. “We operate in rural and smaller communities where infrastructure deployment historically happened at later dates. Thus, many of our areas never had lead cable utilized.”

In the future, Consolidated will further analyze its copper network and report its findings to regulators and telecom associations. “We have a history of and will continue following all applicable local state and federal environmental laws and safety regulations,” Udell said. “We will continue to follow the science and work collaboratively with regulators, the industry, and our trade association to engage in constructive conversations on this topic.”