Since 1986 a global debate has raged on copper or fibre in the local loop, and despite all the evidence the copper heads have pursued a path of survival at any cost with outrageous claims of what they can deliver. With claims of ‘up-to’ download speeds and homes passed (not connected), and crosstalk induced asymmetry they have never delivered what was said on the tin. And worst, with great temerity they insist on dictating to customers as to the bandwidth they really need.
We have now (probably) reached a peak of the lunacy with FTTCabinet/Kerb and pole top G.Fast developers claiming speeds of 1,000Mbit/s delivered. They can no more deliver such speeds than 10Mbit/s unless it is over impractically short spans. You can deliver 10Gbit/s over 5m of twisted pair or 100Gbit/s over 1m, but it aint of much practical use. In contrast optical fibre can deliver 1, 10, 100 Gbit/s over 100km using <10% of the energy demanded by copper.
So in November 2015 I attended my 100th conference/seminar/meeting on the topic to explain that the world is now bifurcating into those with Gbit/s fibre in the local loop and those who are sticking with copper. City and community wide FTTH is rolling out in a frenzy of frustration with the incumbent telco copperheads who continue their futile quest to squeeze the last micro-gram out of their 150 year old technologies. Only fibre is green, only fibre is future proof, only fibre is economic, and only fibre can support future business, Cloud Computing, The IoT, Smart Cities, and the 3,4,5G infill needed into the future.
It is all obvious, but here we go again! Will the UK be a world leader or laggard, in the first division, or at the back of the pack? There is a lot at stake. The first to roll out FTTH was BY in 1990, but government ignorance saw the program closed down and since then the GDP has suffered with lost business and the emigration of young start ups. But all that is insignificant compared with what is to come!
The easiest and most sensible route out of the ‘gotcha’ is to let the companies do as they wish, but empower towns and cities to install dark fibre nets, and to provide assistive funding to villages and communities to DIY Fibre. This is happening by default, but it needs to be accelerated by a modest capital investment.