Fibre Vs Financial Constipation...

Posted by Peter Cochrane on October 6, 2006

Andrew Ball, The Potchery, 6th October 2006

Peter Cochrane talks a lot of sense. I had seen him on the telly in Britain of course, but I was really struck by an article that I read in 1997 (published some time before, I found it in a journal in EIU's reference library) which explored the benefits reaped from BT's adoption of single-mode fibre for long lines. Strangely I still find myself getting into copper Vs fibre arguments with people today. I recently had a new copper pair dropped to my home. The major cost of that operation was labour (Illinois Bell foot the bill anyway) and the very capable lineman could just as easily have run a fibre to the jack as copper, but there's nothing up the pole to connect a fibre to because everyone gets copper and that seems to be just accepted. Is it insulting to suppose that they just don't know any better? Is that the telco's fault? I had a telephone call the other day from a former boss. She had lost (amongst other things) her DSL modem and 10baseT card in a lightning storm. I could order her a 10baseFL card for less than US$ 20, but again there's nowhere to plug it in.

Something I've noticed both in Britain and the U.S. is a fairly consistent tendancy for businesses to choose a low up-front cost every time, even if that means higher ongoing expenses and a much higher final total cost. I tell them they could invest a bit more up front to save a lot of money in the long run, but it's no good: their eyes glaze over and all they see is the ticket price. In fairness, it may be that the recurring costs are somehow "less visible" than the initial purchase price and are perhaps easier to sneak under the RADAR. A month ago today, Mr. Cochrane touched on this in his article No more copper - fibre rules, which includes my Quote of the Month: "It was as if the whole industry lost the plot overnight!"