Closing the copper network

A year ago I posted When should we rip out the copper network? It’s too early to name a date today, but this discussion on Linkedin:

As the law stands today, a street has copper even if only one house uses it. The price is regulated by the Commerce Commission and I guess it will rise steadily as the cost is covered by fewer and fewer subscribers. I don’t think we’ll hit that point.

My prediction is a cut-off point will be announced before the end of this Parliament.

Why do I say that? Because setting a cut-off date, even if it is many years away, will give telecommunications investors certainty. And there may be a political need to do that before the end of this Parliament.

Also, Labour’s Claire Curran has said her party is interested in setting a date. The National government might want to get there first.

2 thoughts on “Closing the copper network

  1. I agree with the prediction. Just on the price escalation thing though – if there are only a few people left the most efficient network design to serve them could be scaled down and the technology might also change, both as consequences of the “new entrant” method of valuing these assets for regulatory purposes.

  2. I think the recent noise about switching off the copper network misses the point. Its not the copper network that needs switching off, but the legacy dial-up modem devices that don’t work reliably over fibre. I think Spark estimated that there were close to 1 million of these devices on their network – everything from Sky decoders to medical and security alarms to EFTPOS and low speed telemetry devices.

    There is already a migration towards IP or GSM based replacements, but only as devices reach the end of their economic life.

    And for this to happen, there are legislative changes that need to be made to remove the requirement in the Local Residential Telephone Services (LRTS) deed between the Crown and Telecom/Spark that requires that 97% of lines support 14400 kbps modems for making “Standard Internet Calls”. Making all these legacy devices work on UFB just isn’t worth the effort. And until we get rid of them, we need the copper network to run them.

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