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Saturday, 8 August 2009

Could BT be using thinner copper?

As the number of stories grow of broadband subscribers (particularly rural and on long lines) having faults, (some of) the copper in the first mile being replaced, and then no "broadband" being available where it was previously, is it possible that.....

the copper wire being put into the ground in 2009 is of a reduced diameter to that previously? The second table down this page shows how the distances for ADSL are substantially reduced if the copper diameter is reduced by a mere 1/10th of a mm.

Bearing in mind that it is not very long since copper was at an all-time high, could it be feasible that BT bought in a stock of thinner wire? The attentuation would not matter in an urban environment where line lengths are far shorter, but out in the sticks that higher attentuation could make a substantial difference. In fact, potentially enough to go from being a Gotspot to a Notspot.

We know that contention is a massive issue and just a single barn conversion between you and the exchange, or a new subscriber in the village, can make a noticeable difference in a broadband connection. But the copper does too, and I am pretty sure BT aren't doing another Milton Keynes and putting aluminium in - surely the lesson was learnt on that one?!

It's just a thought...Anyone from BT care to comment?!

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Clayton said...

This is just paranoid - the copper price spiked in 2006 and then collapsed to it's old price most of the way through 2008 (Wolfram Alpha has some nice graphs of copper futures). I doubt this would ever have happened but if it did it would have been 2 years ago, not now.

Cybersavvy UK said...

It's not paranoia. It is fact that the diameter of the wire affects attentuation. I was only musing that as copper prices had been at an all time high not that long ago......

The relevant part of the question is "Could BT be using thinner copper?" If it is so, then the next question would of course by "Why might this be so?"

We know that there are a growing number of people who are getting vocal about having broadband previously, and not being able to get it now. I haven't heard BT stepping up to the mark to explain why this must be so.

As one of the many volunteers who endeavour to sort out the poor buggers who are suddenly stranded without broadband, we could do with some answers. Because the obvious alternative is to knock BT out of the first mile equation altogether.

Cybersavvy UK said...

Another suggestion just come in, another possible cause to add to the many: contention, ailing aged copper, maintenance, water ingress, etc, now we have joints.

Instead of replacing the copper, and because there is no SLA on ADSL, you sometimes get a bodge job. Cheaper. If there are voice problems, then quite often the copper *is* replaced, but if it's just an ADSL problem, then only sections are replaced and it could be that it is the case of 'one joint too many'.

So you get a whiteout......