This article is primarily about installing fibre in the “last mile”, which has traditionally been copper. If they do much of this, that should cut down on the amount of copper used by voice, data & cable “last mile” installations, freeing it up for other purposes, and perhaps cooling down the red hot copper market.
I don’t know if anyone plans to dig up or otherwise recycle the copper used in already-installed last miles. Anyone else know the economics of that?
A couple weeks ago, The Wall Street Journal published an article with the headline ‘Why the Glut in Fiber Lines Remains Huge.’ One of the statistics cited in the story is that 85% of available fiber optic lines are currently unused. Since that is true it seems that no one would be able to give new optical fiber away these days. Why, then, did Corning recently report a strong quarter, partly because of fiber sales that were up by more than 50% over a year ago? Verizon was one of its big customers.
The fiber glut is primarily limited to long-haul routes that connect different cities and even different countries. Lots of fiber was laid on these routes during the ’90s boom. After all, since the cost of installing a single fiber isn’t much less than the cost of installing 100 fibers you might as well place enough that you won’t run out soon. As a result, most of this fiber is sitting there unused, or “dark,” as The Wall Street Journal article reported.
As you might guess, Verizon is not buying fiber to install on long-haul routes. Instead, it and some competitors are trying to eliminate the biggest bottleneck in the network; the connection of your home to the Internet. While some are skeptical about how long this can continue, Verizon has big plans to run optical fiber to the front doors of its customers (fiber-to-the-premises, or FTTP), which will enable the delivery of the “triple play”: high-speed Internet, voice over Internet protocol (VoIP), and video services.