[LINK] "Shutting down copper is a really dumb thing to do"

Paul Brooks pbrooks-link at layer10.com.au
Wed Nov 9 12:23:30 AEDT 2011

On 9/11/2011 12:27 AM, Fernando Cassia wrote:
> http://www.arnnet.com.au/article/405374/primus_ceo_shutting_down_copper_really_dumb_thing_do_/
Thinking people care about copper or fibre is a really dumb thing to do.

> What he doesn’t like about this plan is it essentially forces consumers to use fibre
> and deprives them of choice. It doesn’t allow people to say no to fibre even if they
> are happy with their current arrangements and don’t want to go through the trouble
> of changing services, Mazerski said.
> “Fibre is not for everybody,” he said. “Those kinds of policies just rub me the
> wrong way”

People want dial tone, access to the Internet, and clear pictures on the telly without
snow, static or other interference.
How many times have we heard that people don't care about the plumbing?

Our regulatory and economic experience is that such services become cheaper, and there
is more incentive to improve them, if there is a choice of provider. Whether or not
the providers use a choice of infrastructure is a secondary issue.
Until the NBN, hundreds of service providers were using a single underlying
infrastructure - which happened to be made of copper because that was what was laid in
the ground as the best technology of the time to build the services - dial tone - that
were in demand at the time.

Customers demands for services in this century are now different - much more data,
much less dial-tone - and more efficient underlying technologies are available.

Shutting down the copper is a perfectly rational thing to do, when the next technology
is in place that can provide the services that people want to buy, to avoid
duplication in costs. Yes, the migration of the provider's services from one
technology to another should be seamless, transparent, and at no extra cost to the
customer - but that does not mean the copper has to be maintained forever. Tom
Mazurski's scenario, taken to the ultimate conclusion, is absurd - Telstra as the
infrastructure owner should be forced to maintain the copper network to every house it
currently goes to, at a cost impost of hundreds of millions of dollars a year, when
nobody is using it and they generate no return from it at all? I don't think so.

Tom Mazurski has forgotten that customers don't buy copper, or fibre - they buy
dial-tone and Internet access. And big aerials to receive digital television. And big

And they buy alarm systems, and alarm system manufacturers are raising all sorts of
issues about moving from dial-tone-over-copper to dial-tone-over-fibre, despite that
most of them are now migrating to GPRS-data-over-cellular-radio - but thats an issue
for the alarm industry to solve, not for the end-user to have to worry about.

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