Thursday, August 13, 2015

Coppering Out on You

"FCC to vote on copper phase-out rules" by Tali Arbel Associated Press  August 06, 2015

WASHINGTON — The copper network behind landline phones, a communications mainstay for more than a century, is going away, as cable and fiber-optics lines come along with faster Internet speeds.

But the alternatives have drawbacks, including an inability to withstand power outages.

Easier way to shut down the Internet and restrict communications!

The federal government is considering rules Thursday to make sure Americans aren’t caught off guard in emergencies if they switch.

I was when I read this.

Many people already scoff at the idea of a landline. About 45 percent of US households just use cellphones. But outside of cities, cell service can be poor.

Still have one; the telemarketers love me.

Yet even among households with wired phone service, according to a government study last year, about half of them have already ditched copper-based landlines for an Internet-based phone service sold by phone and cable companies and typically packaged with TV and Internet services. That trend is expected to continue.

Got that, too.

Fiber and cable networks come with big benefits, such as faster Internet service and expected improvements in 911, including the ability to send texts and photos. Verizon also says fiber lasts longer than copper and doesn’t need as much maintenance.

What's up with Verizon these days?

But a home phone that relies on the Internet will go out when the power does. With copper networks, the phone line delivers its own power source and will continue to work — as long as the phone isn’t a cordless one needing separate power.

Yeah, that COULD be a PROBLEM!

In addition, many home burglar alarms and medical alert systems run on the copper network, so people need time to get replacements.



The march away from copper appears inevitable.

‘‘There will be so few people on the network that it won’t be economical to maintain it,’’ said Jon Banks, a senior vice president at United States Telecom Association, which represents Verizon, AT&T, and other phone companies. ‘‘When copper wears out, nobody really wants to replace it with more copper.’’

Is that why thieves are stealing and selling it?

On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission is expected to require that phone companies warn residential customers three months before they abandon a copper network. For businesses, six months’ notice would be required.

Phone and cable companies would also have to warn customers with newer technologies that the phone will go out with the power, so people have time to get replacement alarms and backup batteries if necessary.

‘‘If you mess with people’s phone systems without explaining what’s going on, you have real issues,’’ said Harold Feld, senior vice president at the public-interest group Public Knowledge. ‘‘People’s lives depend on it.’’




Anybody there?


You will be hearing more from me, don't worry. Just not today.