So why don't US citizens get this?

michael.dillon at michael.dillon at
Mon Jul 28 16:13:22 UTC 2008

> It is cheaper to bore fiber and attach more remote systems 
> than to use the already existing copper? I'm curious how you 
> come up with those economics. 
> (seriously, that wasn't sarcasm)

First point is that you can sell the copper. Second is that you can
reduce the number of local loop faults because the local loop is digital
to the fiber cabinets. Local loop faults seem to be a major cause of
overtime work in telcos. The cause of the faults is numerous including
stretched copper, cracked insulation, moisture in the bundles, rodents,
etc. Have you ever seen the huge bundles of copper wires that come into
a telephone exchange? Once you have seen this in person and you
understand the complexity of cutting those loops, and splicing, and
recutting, and resplicing over many decades, then you will see where it
might be cheaper overall to just replace them with OC48 over fiber. Or
GigE or whatever, but make it digital and make it go on glass fiber

> Yeah, mom was a little aggravated that she lost her 
> connectivity in the valley out in El Salvador because one 
> weekend thieves stole the entire stretch of copper down the 
> mountain off the poles.

Here in London they even steel bronze statues or brass railings in a
park to get the copper content. Here is one account of the risks that
copper thieves will go to. Don't read it if you have a queasy stomach.

> > Analysis paralysis perhaps? AKA bipartisan politics.

> This was the whole point of regulation to begin with in my 
> opinion; to ensure that every household had a phone line, 
> even if it lost money.

And the day will dawn when governments realize that the technology used
to supply service is irrelevant, but everyone needs to have a reliable
connection to the Internet. They may even mandate that every connection
has to include an emergency voice service that is the old -48VDC POTS in
disguise. Today the USA and the rest of the world is still in the
pioneering experimental stage of figuring out what works. If Russia
forges ahead with FTTH broadband everywhere, just watch how quickly you
see bipartisan agreement in the USA.

> Of course, who cares about the rural areas.

Do you eat? 

Anyway there is history in the USA of treating rural areas as a apecial
case such as the Rural Electrification programs. The rural people didn't
need electricity and could have gotten on just fine without it as they
had for centuries before. Even industrialised countries like Russia and
Ukraine still have rural areas where there is essentially no
electricity, or very occasional and unreliable electricity. Different
countries choose different priorities, but over time there seems to be
general convergence of all countries onto a basic set of modern services
that they want to deliver to their entire population.

Some things can be done with competitive markets, and other things
cannot. It's all about figuring out which measures to apply to which
problems, not about taking a political ideology like communism and
forcing it upon every aspect of people's lives. That has been proven to
not work and people who call for free-market everything need to realize
that they are trodding the same wellworn path that communists travelled
in the last century.

Furthermore, most Americans alive today do not really remember what a
free market was like. When was the last time you travelled in an
unregulated cab, ate in an unregulated restaurant, etc.?

Even this mailing list is attempting to impose constraints on the free
market of network design and operations. Best practices become embodied
in vendor products and even people who don't necessarily want to follow
the best practices for good technical reasons, can't find the equipment
to do it or the people who will build it differently.

--Michael Dillon

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