11 Dec On network infrastructure, the U.S. should cut copper
Chicago, Ill. – Copper is still a major part of the network infrastructure in this country.
It has become a liability as more people try to steal it. A new FBI report has been published that focuses on the rise of thefts on copper cable and other valuable components of both the power and communications industries. The report said:
“Copper thieves are threatening U.S. critical infrastructure by targeting electrical substations, cellular towers, telephone landlines, railroads, water wells, construction sites and vacant homes for lucrative profits.
“The theft of copper from these targets disrupts the flow of electricity, telecommunications, transportation, water supply, heating, security and emergency services. It presents a risk to both public safety and national security.”
Over the years, I have advocated upgrading to fiber optics. This would provide a leading-edge framework for broadband connectivity. It also seems like a safer bet as the backbone component for our network infrastructure.
What’s needed today is an upgraded platform for commerce that includes a network infrastructure that can support multiple-gigabit speeds. With the increased value in copper as a raw material, pieces of the network have become targets for those trying to cash in material that’s readily available and easily hacked off.
Now’s the time to replace copper
When the telephone network was initially built, it was built with copper wiring more than a century ago. The copper served the purpose well. From an engineering standpoint, it was a great vehicle for cost-effective voice communications.
We are in a new century and the demands for network communications have changed and expanded. Subscribers and network carriers have found out that voice communications can be readily handled by wireless means and the heavy uses for a wired infrastructure have evolved to high-speed data and broadband video.
With so many organizations spending money on countermeasures and security measures, you have to ask the question: “Why not spend that money to just replace the copper with fiber optics?” The FBI report also observed:
“Industry officials have taken some countermeasures to address the copper theft problem. These include the installment of physical and technological security measures, increased collaboration among the various industry sectors and the development of law-enforcement partnerships.
“Many states are also taking countermeasures by enacting or enhancing legislation regulating the scrap industry to include increased recordkeeping and penalties for copper theft and non-compliant scrap dealers.
“However, there are limited resources available to enforce these laws. A very small percentage of perpetrators are arrested and convicted. As copper thefts are typically addressed as misdemeanors, those individuals convicted pay relatively low fines and serve short prison terms.”
When will all the “experts” figure out that upgrading to fiber for the network infrastructure is long overdue? Why do people want to protect an antique infrastructure? Take all the money you would spend on security measures and recycling the copper itself and a part of the upgrade to fiber would be covered.
Stagecoaches are obsolete in today’s NASCAR world
As I’ve said before, we must stop running our stagecoach-era network infrastructure in a competitive NASCAR world.
Speed is king and the king of speed is not the United States. As I’ve said before, putting DSL on copper is like putting a vinyl top on a stagecoach in the era of the space shuttle. While it’s far from being enough to compete in the global economy, so many have bought off on the hype.
Perhaps the catalyst to upgrade the network won’t come from educated and demanding consumers but more from the acceleration of criminals hauling off pieces of the network. Will crime become the catalyst for network upgrades to fiber? Soon you will be seeing bumper stickers that read: “If you are running at gigabit speeds, thank organized crime.”
Maybe organized crime has done more in the last year to focus on the need to upgrade to fiber than most state legislatures. Now that’s the real crime.
Carlinism: Leading-edge countries do not maintain their position with trailing-edge infrastructures.
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This article previously appeared in MidwestBusiness.com, and was reprinted with its permission.
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