How Verizon lets its copper network decay to force phone customers onto fiber [telecom]

How Verizon lets its copper network decay to force phone customers onto fiber

Fiber is fast, but copper is reliable - even during multi-week power outages.

Ars Technica by Jon Brodkin Aug 14 2014, 9:00pm EDT

The shift from copper landlines to fiber-based voice networks is continuing apace, and no one wants it to happen faster than Verizon.

Internet users nationwide are clamoring for fiber, as well, hoping it can free them from slower DSL service or the dreaded cable companies. But not everyone wants fiber, because, when it comes to voice calls, the newer technology doesn't have all the benefits of the old copper phone network. In particular, fiber doesn't conduct electricity, where copper does. That means when your power goes out, copper landlines might keep working for days or weeks by drawing electricity over the lines, while a phone that relies on fiber will only last as long as its battery. That's up to eight hours for Verizon's most widely available backup system.

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Reply to
Bill Horne
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It is interesting that the celebrated "feature" of copper lines, i.e. the immunity to local power failures, was never the intended purpose. When the shift to CO battery started about a hundred years ago the motivation was maintenance cost savings - you didn't have to send a repair person out to change the local batteries. Interestingly enough, the switch hook was implemented to save the local batteries too, again saving maintenance cost.

I guess it's the law of unintended consequences....

The shift to fiber is also partially driven by maintenance savings (fusion splices are more reliable than crimp splices), in addition to the added services.

E. Tappert

***** Moderator's Note *****

It's not always about labor costs: other contributors have pointed out that fiber-based phone "lines" don't have to be shared with "Virtual" phone companies, i.e., with non facilities-based CLECs, which rent their local cables from the ILEC.

Of course, fiber has enough bandwidth to give ILECs a play in the lucrative entertainment-distribution sector, and I'm surprised that cable operators haven't been more involved with efforts to force ILECs to retain copper.

Bill Horne Moderator

Reply to
Eric Tappert

There is a small number of companies in any location which accept metal for recycling.

If Joe Schmoe shows up at the depot with a truckbed full of copper cable, they know he didn't come across it legitimately.

Every recycling facility I've ever seen keeps records.

I'd bet two bits that VZ could unwind this mystery in an afternoon, a lot cheaper than fifty K.

Of course the $50K reward is also a deterrent, to keep other people from following those footsteps.

Reply to

I'd bet that a majority of such thefts are committed by men whom are /in/ the recycling industry: people who are able to cover their tracks easily. There have been cases where reels of cable vanished from telephone company marshalling yards, only to be re-delivered at an inflated price when the yard foreman called for emergency replacements. Aerial or underground type cable is also in demand for ordinary interior runs, if the price is right: I've seen cable which was designed for aerial mounting installed inside buildings, and when I asked why such extravagnace was allowed, the answer was always "We got it at a good price".

Maybe, but don't forget that it's a big country and there is /always/ demand for communicaitons wire. Aerial cable is amazingly tough, and it can be used in vertical runs that are hundreds of feet long, with only a fraction of the work that would be needed to properly support "interior" grade cable. Most people assume that it's melted down for the copper, but that's seldom the case: it simply vanishes into the grey market.

It's small potatoes to an ILEC, but I don't think they expect to pay it. Large offers usually come with conditions, and are heavily advertised in cases when there's little chance of the award being paid. It's mostly PR, designed to create the impression that the phone company is taking quick action and to remind customers that the outage was unavoidable.

Reply to
Bill Horne

How's that?

There are many legit recyclers of large trucks full of copper cabling.

Ie. datacomm techs routinely pull old dead comm cable from the ceilings when they retrofit a space. That ancient 25-pair and cat3 just goes onto the truck for recycling.

I also know my electrician collects all his junk wire for recycling, and eventually saves up trash barrels full of it to go on a recycling run.

Reply to
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