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

Tom Koltai tomk at unwired.com.au
Wed Nov 9 13:47:43 AEDT 2011

> -----Original Message-----
> From: link-bounces at mailman.anu.edu.au 
> [mailto:link-bounces at mailman.anu.edu.au] On Behalf Of Paul Brooks
> Sent: Wednesday, 9 November 2011 12:24 PM
> To: link at mailman.anu.edu.au
> Subject: Re: [LINK] "Shutting down copper is a really dumb 
> thing to do"
> On 9/11/2011 12:27 AM, Fernando Cassia wrote:
> > 
> http://www.arnnet.com.au/article/405374/primus_ceo_shutting_down_coppe
> > r_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?


There are technologists and there are economists. There are few
Technology Economists.

But you were talking about pluming.

After meeting Ficus Benjamina in my back yard in Darwin, I do care about
the plumbing.

Terra Cotta sewerage pipe, choked and destroyed.
PVC water pipe, destroyed.

The only plumbing that works in the Tropics is either Steel or Concrete.

The NBN is very similar. In some areas, Fibre is the go. In others, for
example Mediterranean immigrant concrete front lawns leaving the copper
insitu might be the logical solution in preference to a $3,000 dig, lay
and reconcrete exercise.

I am sure there will be a myriad of situations where the only high speed
broadband economical option will not include FTTH.

FTTN with millimetre Mwave might be a solution. But why, when the copper
is available and with the Telstra Top Hat imitative could technically be
driven in the near future at speeds close to 1000 Mbps.

There are examples of Sumerian copper artefacts retaining their form for
four thousand years. 
I doubt that fibre will show the same resiliency.

> 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.
Agreed, but that equally applies to copper. Far more efficient and
economical methods of delivering higher speeds over longer distances are
being commercialised every year.

> Shutting down the copper is a perfectly rational thing to do, 

Yet PacWest in California in 1997 discovered that they had to reinstall
it (Alarms AND medical monitoring systems powered via the copper).

> 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

Agreed. Yet the NBN business case doesn't confirm the no extra cost

> - but that does not mean the 
> copper has to be maintained forever. 

Actually, no. It can be left in situ and turned off and "relit" with a
battery if and when needed for emergency reasons.

>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.

Then the network should be allowed to die a technology and consumer
driven normal natural death.

I think Australians would prefer to pay an extra fee for the maintenance
of the copper than to loose altogether the option of having it

> 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 televisions.

Interesting take. Big organisations and Government don't always know
what the customer wants. Sometimes, customers don't know themselves.

When I tried to convince Telecom about the value of the Internet and
Email in 1992, the response was: "We sell copper Mr. Koltai, not email."

> 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.

The QLD floods taught us that even GPRS goes down when the base station
batteries run out.
What did stay up in the Brisbane floods, even though the power lines
were down ?

Over fifty percent of the PSTN Copper phone lines.

Complete with earth leakage noises, but nevertheless, almost useable in
many cases.

Having lived in the tropics for many years, and being aware of what
tropical storms and lightning can do to pole mounted services (power), I
remember, during the eighties how often the house was in darkness but
the UPS powered Kakadu Konnection Bulletin Board with 32 phone lines
kept on operating with calls coming in from all over the world.

I am a strong supporter of the NBN.
I am a vehement opponent of leaving Australians with no viable legal
non-centrally routed communications choice with the exception of fibre
which may from time to time, not work.

That is not progress and it's mandate edict is certainly not democratic


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