• United States

The strangest argument for fiber

Dec 20, 20052 mins

* Copper in really high demand

I recently came across a story that may be among the most bizarre cabling stories this year, and I had to share: apparently thieves are stealing everything copper to sell as scrap metal to China.

Canada’s The Globe and Mail early this month reported that someone stole 130 light poles in Baltimore – all “stuffed with live electrical wires.” The story asserts that this is only a single example of a greater problem, that China’s rapid economic growth has led to “a scrap metal theft pandemic” where aluminum, copper and steel are valued highly enough that stealing light poles in broad daylight seems like a good idea to someone.

The story also points to stolen parking meters in Pittsburgh and stolen luggage carts in Belgium as further examples of this trend, and the fact that copper and aluminum prices have more than doubled in recent years is held up as the reason behind it.

The paper writes:

“Theft of copper wires from electrical utilities and telephone companies has become so rampant in Argentina that it has badly affected service to millions of customers. Cable theft is running at a rate of 500 kilometres a month, up from 200 kilometres a month a year ago.”

The newsletter for Canada’s CANARIE network suggests that the apparent scarcity of copper could push up deployment of fiber-optic lines among telcos, as they try to avoid the costs of replacing stolen cables.

But what happens when China is ready for fiber optics?