What happened to all of our own cable and phone lines when we switched to fiber?



  1. 0 Votes

    Good question, Eduardo, and it was difficult to track down an answer. As near as I can tell, some of it was removed and replaced, but a good portion of it is still there. In the 1980s and 1990s, large portions of the telecommunications infrastructure in the United States, which originally consisted largely of coaxial cables and other metal transmission lines, was replaced with fiber optics. During 1998 particularly it seemed that every other street in America was being torn up in order to install fiber optic cables. A major reason for this was the dot-com bubble, where huge expansion in telecommunications traffic was expected as a result ¬†of the technology boom, and telecommunications infrastructure providers rushed to try to “corner the market” by laying huge amounts of fiber optics, hoping to charge hefty fees for using their fibers. The demand has not been as much as expected, resulting in “dark fiber.” Many of the old cables, running as they typically do in dedicated channels underground, were replaced at the time with fiber optics. (I specifically can remember about 1998 seeing huge spools of old rusty cables lying around after such projects, or being transported on trains). But old non-fiber cables do still have some utility, and in some places, such as the bottom of the ocean, it’s not practical to remove and replace them. I could not find an answer on how much of the old cable system still remains in place, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a significant amount, simply because the cost of removing it would be too high.

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