Broadband Cable Association of Pennsylvania


April 12, 2013

In the last century, we have seen many technologies come and go. Before the car, came the horse and buggy; before computers, there were typewriters; and before wireless and fiber broadband networks, there was copper wire. There aren't many horse and buggies on the road and most of us don't have typewriters sitting on our desks. So why are copper networks still so widely used although they have been rendered obsolete by next-generation technologies?

The simple answer is that federal, state and local regulations are stuck in the past.

The legacy copper Public Switch Telephone Network (PSTN) provided the backbone of national telephone networks for more than 100 years. But today, IP-based networks deliver connection speeds and new products and services unequaled by anything delivered via copper. Recognizing this, consumers are abandoning outdated copper services at a rapid pace, instead opting for more reliable wireless and wired IP-based networks. Still today, federal and state governments have rules in place requiring providers to maintain a copper wire infrastructure even though it has become impractical, inefficient, and very costly. As copper wire becomes increasingly obsolete across the country regulations must keep pace with the consumer demands of the 21st Century.

Take the recent devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, for example. As the storm wreaked havoc on many parts of the Eastern seaboard, high winds and heavy rains completely wiped out the local communications infrastructure in some areas - infrastructure that included copper wire networks. As the rebuilding process continues, many see great value in taking this opportunity to replace outdated copper wire networks with the most modern and useful technologies available. Aside from the benefits of faster connection speeds and advanced service offerings, these new technologies provide next-generation wireless and fiber networks that can withstand harsher environmental interference and can be upgraded as technology improves without the expense of deploying an entirely new network. This means better and more reliable service for consumers at an ultimately lower cost.

But regulations are currently threatening these upgrades from taking place, instead requiring companies to replace the copper wire networks of yesteryear. Services that used to be available only through copper wire can now be provided by fiber and wireless networks at reduced cost and at greater speeds. To continue to invest in antiquated copper technologies not only hurts consumers and providers, but also the economy-at-large by slowing investment, innovation and growth. Traditional copper networks are no longer applicable to the needs and benefits of today’s technologies. It doesn't make economic or practical sense to continue requiring telecommunications companies to preserve obsolete copper wire technologies when wireless and fiber networks can offer better connections more efficiently.

Regulations should not favor a century-old technology over the most cutting-edge of today's services.

State Sen. Mike Folmer said Thursday that he is resuming chemotherapy treatment as part of his ongoing treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The treatments are scheduled to begin April 25 and take place twice a week every three weeks for six months, according to a news release from his office. Folmer, a Republican representing the 48th District, was diagnosed with follicular grade I non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a highly treatable form of cancer, in February 2012, and throughout the year, underwent two procedures to drain accumulated fluid from his chest and five chemotherapy treatments.

During that time, Folmer did not miss any Senate sessions. His Senate district includes all of Lebanon County. "I continue to remain optimistic about my diagnosis and thank my constituents, colleagues, and friends for their kind words and ongoing support," said Folmer. "As I continue with treatments, I plan to attend to Senate business as normal, just as I did last year, and remain just as committed to representing the citizens of the 48th district as I have been since taking office," he said in the release. "I look forward to serving for many years to come, and give my word to my constituents I will periodically update them on my condition through various forms of media and my weekly e-newsletter, Mike's Memo." Lebanon Daily News