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Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,407
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I have to agree with you, in saying that the POTS system is pretty much a "sunset system".
I had mine taken out here at home in favour of a naked broad-band connection and while that is over copper, next year, I will have that upgraded to fibre, when I can afford that.

I did a training course some time ago on fibre work, probably 2 years ago, it is a LOT more involved than terminating cables into CAT5 or 6 with a punch-down tool.
Get your angle of cut wrong and you're screwed, these things are miniscule.
However, this is the way of the future, in years to come, we won't talk of copper conductors with respect to telecomms stuff and I think that is a great thing, it shows progression forwards.
It just means that the technicians that work with this sort of thing, need to be trained better.

Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,653
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I went to a school about 30 years ago where they showed us how to terminate fiber but in those days it was a lot more complicated than it is today. The tools improved. I have never had the chance to do it since. My broadband is still on copper too (telco/DSL). We finally have some competition to the existing cable company and they are bringing fiber to the home. I might be willing to go back to a cable company if these people can show me they are better than Comcast. Monopolies always suck.

Greg Fretwell
Joined: Jul 2002
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May I say Greg, it doesn't get anymore "closed shop" than in New Zealand here.
For years, all you got was a copper POTS connection to your house, the incumbent government-owned Telecom did everything they could to stifle any sort of competition, by way of lobbying the government with ideas of reduced share-holder payout (back to the government), investor flight, you name it.

Then the Internet happened, this threw the hungry cat amongst the pigeons, Telecom were forced to un-bundle the local loop here and set up a seperate Infrastructure arm (now known as Chorus).

During the seemingly endless Ultra-Fast Broadband installs across New Zealand, Telecom (who were re-branded as Spark), threw all sorts of speed bumps in the way of Chorus and anyone else that wanted to come into the market, in the hope they would give up and leave.

Vodaphone NZ got a foot-hold in the market here and this has significantly bought prices down to the consumer, however not enough, like a lot of things in NZ, you end up with a du-opoly, and screams of price-fixing have been heard ever since.

Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 1,252
djk Offline
It was very similar here in Ireland until the late 1990s, when the market was fully opened to competition. Before that Telecom √Čireann, which was a state owned corporation from 1983 until 1999 (and before that the Department of Posts and Telegraphs aka: P&T) ran the PSTN here.

They used to be fairly locked down until the late 80s when they let consumers do their own wiring and buy their own handsets, but before that Telecom did your internal wiring, installed all the RJ11 jacks and rented you the phones and in the 1970s it was either hardwired or used big old operator-board style classic wall jacks similar to an electric guitar plug, again only ever installed by P&T and the wiring schemes were often unnecessarily over complicated.

Initially competition was limited to just carrier preselect services, and then local loop unbundling arrived, although it had fairly limited impact due to the nature of the Irish network.
We've only about 4.7 million people, but because it's quite scattered outside a handful of cities, that population is served by well over 2000 local exchanges. In reality most of them are just remote concentrators containing line cards and DSLAMs, but they were uneconomic to unbundle. So, you ended up with unbundled services only at exchanges with perhaps 5000 lines. A lot of the smaller exchanges would have as few as a hundred lines and they weren't all rural either. Telecom tended to use a lot of distributed switching in the PSTN/ISDN days, even in urban areas. Often you'd have say a housing development or business park served by a small cabinet-based RSU linked to the local Ericsson AXE or Alcatel E10 switch by fibre.

Eventually the regulator had to intervene in the market and force down the wholesale access charges to ensure competition actually functioned.

We always had a large uptake of cable television, going way back to the 1960s, so the cable networks in the 2000s began to really see a huge upsurge in use for broadband and VoIP. They actually have more than 50% of broadband and voice in a lot of urban areas at this stage.

Eircom then rolled out VDSL cabinets which were capable of 100mbit/s using vectoring and those are providing service for a whole range of ISPs and TV providers and so on as a wholesale access network.

Eircom then became Eir and their wholesale/access division was rebranded Open eir. They've begun to rollout a lot of FTTH, including in rural areas.

A huge % of Eir's fixed services are 100Mbit/s VDSL at present.

Then along came Siro - a joint venture between ESB (The Electricity Supply Board) and Vodafone. They're building out a competing wholesale fibre access network that's using the ESB's power line infrastructure and ducts to carry fibres into homes. That's also available to a whole raft of ISPs - Vodafone, Sky, Digiweb, tons of local ones etc much like eir.

So, it's gone pretty seriously competitive now, with 3 competing access networks i.e. two direct FTTH networks and Cable TV networks.

The two FTTH networks sell 1Gbit/s services but can support 10Gbit/s (and has been demoed and trialled).
While Virgin Media's cable networks currently sell services to residential users that top out at 500mbit/s and up to a 1Gbit/s for business users. They're likely to also start selling 1Gbit/s for residential as they're competing with the two FTTH nets.

Virgin Media (Liberty Global) doesn't have to allow wholesale access on its cable network (as yet). So it's the only single-ISP access network.

There's also a 4th access network being rolled out by a contractor paid by the state. Again a whole sale network, so you won't buy service straight form them and it's aimed at reaching the few hundred thousand rural homes that aren't commercially viable for FTTH from any of the mainstream players.

It's become pretty aggressively competitive and the speeds are going way up, including in rural areas which is great. We'd a really dismal period in the early 2000s when Eircom dominated the whole thing and was dragging its feet on speeds and competition was still quite stifled.

As for the PSTN / POTS network - it's officially on sunset at this stage. If you order any new services from any of the phone companies, unless you've some very specific reason, they'll provide you with an access gateway that contains a VoIP ATA for phone. The TDM networks are being wound down quite rapidly.

A lot of the old Eir core network seems to have moved to VoIP at major node level with the existing AXE and E10 local switches really acting as access nodes for that and new subscriptions or people upgrading packages typically are moved by their ISP to a VoIP over broadband product unless they specifically object and demand an exchange-based dial tone or they're in a really remote area without fibre to home or VDSL.

Also the number of landline users of any tech POTS or VoIP is plummeting anyway as mobile phones are just absolutely dominant. I have a landline that came bundled with my internet using VoIP and I honestly don't even know the number. There isn't even any handset connected to it and I don't think I'm unusual.

Last edited by djk; 01/21/20 10:06 PM.
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