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Fiber Broadband Association Research Underscores Benefits of Retiring Copper for Future-Proof Fiber
[May 30, 2024]

Fiber Broadband Association Research Underscores Benefits of Retiring Copper for Future-Proof Fiber


The Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) today announced its Technology Committee published a new white paper on "The Benefits of Retiring Copper Today." Many telecommunications providers still face unnecessary complexity and expense by continuing to operate legacy copper last-mile broadband infrastructure, especially if they already migrated to fiber in the core and access network. The white paper explores the cost benefits and reasons why operators should accelerate the removal of copper completely and deploy future-proof fiber, including improved reliability, substantial ESG benefits, and the scalability to support new bandwidth-rich services both today and in the future.

Many copper cables in service today are well over 100 years old. Amplifiers, air systems, and batteries are among the many copper plant infrastructure requirements that create higher expenses, experience frequent failure, and require high levels of energy and maintenance. As equipment ages, so does the workforce who were trained to maintain these legacy systems. The skills, institutional knowledge, and materials to support these networks continue to shrink every year. With more broadband subscribers shifting to fiber, existing copper cables will have a small percentage of working lines left within service areas, further driving up costs to maintain as they continue to age.

Fiber optic cable has been deployed for decades, first in the core of the world's networks, and then to individual homes, businesses, wireless cells, and nodes. Over this time, fiber has gained a well-earned reputation for superior performance and lower operational expenses versus copper-based and wireless communications media. As a result, fiber is the literal backbone of most global communications networks, regardless of last-mile type, including coax/cable, copper, cellular, and fixed wireless.

In addition to fiber's operational savings and better performance factors, FBA's white paper outlines several approaches to replacing copper with fiber that recoup the capital expense of the migration, including:

  • Reclaim Assets: The ducts and poles that carry copper can be reduced and/or repurposed to carry fiber, media that delivers exponentially more capacity than existing copper cable. The associated pole attachment fees will also be reduced as less fiber will be required due to its capacity, and the savings could be up to 50%.
  • Real Estate: Much like the workforce and equipment, the buildings and huts that house legacy copper electronics have a high cost to operate and maintain. Many FTTH networks are centralized, minimizing the number of existing buildings and huts where the future network would occupy space and creating an opportunity to decommission this real estate and sell the properties.
  • Salvage Goods: Copper is a valued commodity, increasing in price considerably in the last 10 years, and is predicted to continue to grow in value for use in areas such as electric vehicle recharging stations-a market that is expected to need 230% more copper by 2030 to meet anticipated demand. Service providers can recover and sell existing copper cables for recycling to support other industries.


  • "Copper has served its purpose. It connected millions of people to voice and lower speed internet services and enabled the first phase of today's modern information-based society, but we're now at the turning point where copper's weaknesses outweigh its strengths," said John George, FBA Technology Committee Chair, and OFS Senior Director of Solutions Engineering and Fusion Splicers. "The broadband industry expects every network will migrate to fiber-the only question is when. This white paper is our latest piece of research that reveals the long list of benefits any service provider can realize with an all-fiber network. The time is now to move from yesterday's legacy media to tomorrow's future-ready network."

    FBA members can download the "The Benefits of Retiring Copper Today" white paper here. To access FBA's full library of research, visit: fiberbroadband.org/research-and-resources.


    About the Fiber Broadband Association

    The Fiber Broadband Association is the largest and only trade association that represents the complete fiber ecosystem of service providers, manufacturers, industry experts, and deployment specialists dedicated to the advancement of fiber broadband deployment and the pursuit of a world where communications are limitless, advancing quality of life and digital equity anywhere and everywhere. The Fiber Broadband Association helps providers, communities, and policymakers make informed decisions about how, where, and why to build better fiber broadband networks. Since 2001, these companies, organizations, and members have worked with communities and consumers in mind to build the critical infrastructure that provides the economic and societal benefits that only fiber can deliver. The Fiber Broadband Association is part of the Fibre Council Global Alliance, which is a platform of six global FTTH Councils in North America, LATAM, Europe, MEA, APAC, and South Africa. Learn more at fiberbroadband.org.


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