Telstra CEO says copper network will last 100 years

But do we want it to?

Telstra CEO David Thodey yesterday said that he believes that Australia's current century-old copper network could last for another 100 years.

Thodey was speaking to journalists after a Trans-Tasman Business lunch, saying: "Copper has been going for 100 years, I think it will be going for another 100."

He also said that while maintenance of the network would be required, copper does not decompose.

A Twitter comparison

Soon after The Australian's article about Thodey's comments went online, Twitter user Tim Christodoulou compared the news piece to an article written for The Age in 2003.

In stark constrast to comments made yesterday, the decade old article reported Telstra executives saying during a Senate inquiry in 2003 that the copper networks would need upgrading over the next 15 years.

But while Telstra has upgraded much of its network over the years, there has been ongoing concern over the condition of the copper network.

Thodey's comments yesterday, however, indicated that the condition of the network is good.

Waiting for September

His comments brings into focus again both Labor and the Coalition's National Broadband Network (NBN) policies. Currently under Labor's fibre-to-the-premises roll-out, fibre-optic cables are being laid directly to the home and essentially replacing the current copper network.

The Coalition has proposed a fibre-to-the-node policy that will fibre cable run to new nodes built across the country, with Telstra's existing copper lines running from the node to the premises.

Fibre

(Credit: Flickr user Joel Olives)

Thodey's comments could help boost interest in the Coalition's policy, which would rely on the copper network for the last stretch between nodes and the user's home.

But the question remains if we want to use a century old network, though the Coalition claims this will be a cheaper and faster option, and will still future proof Australia's NBN network.

Or do we stick with Labor's policy of by-passing the copper network, and replacing it with fibre-optics in its entirety? Either way, the September election is just around the corner, and the winning party will have its run of NBN policy.

Asbestos pitfall

Over the last few weeks, the NBN rollout has been plagued by asbestos being found in numerous Telstra pits and ducts, which NBN Co will use to install the new fibre-optic line. As part of the deal with NBN Co, Telstra must repair and maintain these ducts

On Wednesday, Telstra announced new requirements for asbestos handling by contractors. Work by Telstra will be stopped until contractors meet the requirements.

"We will continue to be open about the status of these issues and the work we are doing to strengthen contractor management of asbestos handling. We will not allow recommencement of cement pit remediation work until we are satisfied the necessary safety measures are in place," said Brendon Riley, Telstra's chief operations officer.

Riley also expects the number of inspectors and specialists to increase up 200 as the NBN roll-out progresses.

Via: Australian Financial Review