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China's War Against Wires 244

Posted by timothy
from the stephensonian-detritus dept.
hodet writes "On sections of Beijing Road, you can barely see the sky. On Tibet Road, they dangle in garden-hose rolls and knots intricate enough to confound a Boy Scout. Over on Hefei Street, one enterprising apartment dweller even used them to hang-dry selected cuts of meat. Tech-happy Shanghai, the most wired city in China, has a problem: wires. Telephone wires. Fiber-optic wires. Electrical wires. Wires no one can seem to identify. Black wires. Blue wires. Magenta wires. They're everywhere, and they're gumming up the works."
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China's War Against Wires

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  • Actually.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @03:30AM (#7793039)
    Those words are from Ted Anthony, not hodet.
  • Really? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gostats (647325)
    I though that was just real in the "imaginary world of cell phone commercials". (At least on TV it is!) -You won't understand this post if: 1. You've never seen the cellphone commercial I referenced. 2. Your tivo can skip all commercials so maybe you did see it but it looked like a commercial for spagetti instead.
  • by Amiga Lover (708890) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @03:33AM (#7793048)
    Personally I've never been bothered by wires up above me. I'd rather have them up there and instantly accessible than deal with the crap of having lawn, road, path and other services dug up, just so a couple of people on the street can see the sky.

    Hint. You can see the sky anyway, wires or no wires. Wasted effort aiming for underground, if you ask me. Wireless tech is a good replacement, but isn't going to work everywhere.
    • by 2nd Post! (213333) <gundbear@pacbe l l . n et> on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @03:36AM (#7793062) Homepage
      Did you read the same article I did?

      They are up in the sky, and they *aren't* instantly accessible. Above or below ground isn't the problem, so much as that they have intersections with 30+ pairs of wires running across them. Who do they belong to? Where do they connect? No one knows!

      If no one comes to claim them, they will be cut. *That* is the heart of the article, the simplification, regulation, and control of the wires. Not whether it's above ore below ground. It's only written to seem that way.
      • Who do they belong to? Where do they connect? No one knows!

        What I would like to know is, what are the wires that follow train tracks? Ancient telegraph lines perhaps? Who owns them? Are they still used? If not, why the hell are they still there?

        • by Anonymous Coward
          What I would like to know is, what are the wires that follow train tracks?

          If it is an electrified line, then they are the power for the train. If not, then they are probably there from where the track was run on overhead power at some stage in the past.

          That's the case here in Australia anyway, perhaps it's different stateside.
        • by putaro (235078) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @07:27AM (#7793599) Journal
          Many communication lines are run along railroad right-of-ways because the railroad is mostly straight, runs between urban centers and is uninterrupted. Remember a couple of years ago when a tank car caught fire in a train tunnel and took out Internet connectivity for half the Eastern US? Sprint, one of the big US carriers, started life as part of the Southern Pacific railway. Here in Tokyo a lot of fibre got laid in the subway tunnels.
        • by Detritus (11846) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @07:48AM (#7793658) Homepage
          At least some of them are there for the control, signaling and communication needs of the railroads.
        • by josecanuc (91) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @08:15AM (#7793721) Homepage Journal
          What I would like to know is, what are the wires that follow train tracks? Ancient telegraph lines perhaps? Who owns them? Are they still used? If not, why the hell are they still there?

          At least in Rural Texas, where you see short (10 feet high) poles strung with wires, half rotted or fallen over, they were telegraph cables. The rails are still used, but the cables aren't.

          Communication to/from the train is done by radio and communication between rail stations is done by regular telephone.

      • by zeugma-amp (139862) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @09:51AM (#7794241) Homepage

        I happen to own a copy of the Encyclopaedia Brittannica that was published in 1903. The article in it about telecommunications is particularly interesting in relation to the referenced article. At the time of course, telecom was pretty primative. Each individual phone had its own wire. Thus, if you look at period photos of New York City, you'll see these huge bundles of wires that pretty much obliterate the lower stories of buildings. The bundles of wires were huge and one might say they detracted much from the scenery (such that it was).

        In those days, and later years, the process of connecting a call was actually a process of building a single point-to-point wire that connected the two parties, which is where the patch-boards and operators came from.

        Several years ago I read a contemporary description of exactly what it was like to make a long-distance call from New York to St. Louis in the mid-20s. The caller would pick up the phone and repeatedly press the cradle that broke the circuit off and on. This would alert the operator that someone wanted to make a call, by flashing a light on her switchboard. (When the reciever was on-hook the light was off, and when it was on-hook, the light would come on.) The caller would tell the operator where to connect to - something like "Saint Louis 6 4324". The first two letters being the abbreviation for the city. Then the caller would hang up, while the operator connected to other operators across the country until the circuit was completely built, and essentially a single wire stretched between the caller and callee, and she had the callee on the line. Then she'd ring back the caller, and they'd start the conversation.

        This is basically from memory which has been somewhat corrupted with age, so take it for what it's worth. The description of the wires brought it to mind so I thought I'd share...

        and an operator would answer. (You see people repeatedly mashing the cradle of the phone in old movies.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      > Hint. You can see the sky anyway, wires or no wires.

      hint. radiation. I sure want as less of that as I can get.
    • by Zog The Undeniable (632031) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @03:43AM (#7793081)
      Most power in the UK is delivered to homes via underground cables (although the 132,000 V national grid stuff is nearly all on pylons). The problem with running local cables overhead, besides appearance, is that storms tend to bring down trees, which pull down any nearby cables. The big pylons are well out of the way of trees.
      • by rpjs (126615) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @04:57AM (#7793269)
        It's not just power that we put underground - the only overhead infrastructure you see in an average British street is BT telephone wires and then usually only the last bit from the nearest telephone pole to the home.

        However, the downside is that what with utility privatisation and deregulation, we now have over 100 companies with a statutory right to dig up the roads as when they require. This means we often get cases of roads being dug up by company A, resurfaced and then a couple of days later getting dug up again by Company B. IIRC there are some roads in London that have been subject to works for more than 50% of the time in recent years.

        The govt keeps legislating to make the utilities co-ordinate with each other (I remember working on the Street Works Act system for the local authority I used to work for back in the mid-90s) but it never seems to have much effect. The latest wheeze is "lane rental" - allowing utilities to dig as they want but making them pay for the economic cost of the disruption to traffic that they cause.

        Mind you, I do think it looks nicer having everything underground. I find the overhead electric cables they have in the suburban US quite ugly.
        • by atomico (162710) <miguel.cardo@ g m a il.com> on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @05:38AM (#7793359) Homepage
          In many european town/city centres, to avoid constant digging and re-digging, narrow tunnels are built where power and communication cables, along with gas and water pipes, are neatly racked along the tunnel walls. It is the typical case of high upfront investment paying off over the following decades: no more digging, no more overhead cables.
          • by rpjs (126615) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @05:46AM (#7793374)
            That sounds like far too sensible an idea to ever catch on in the UK!
          • by I8TheWorm (645702) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @08:18AM (#7793728) Journal
            Actually, there's a long term cost too. Underground lines have full time maintenance associated with them, while above ground lines don't require as much (other than the occasional tree limb or high wind).

            There are a few different kinds of underground lines.
            1. High pressure, fluid filled (HPFF)
            2. High pressure, gas filled (HPGF)
            3. Self contained, fluid filled (SCFF)
            4. Extruded dielectric (XLPE, for Cross Linked Polyethelene, plastic insulation, and one of the products my company makes)

            HPFF are the most common in the US, and SCFF are the least common, mainly because they don't do well in extreme weather. The fluids are dielectric, 200 psi oil, and saturates the kraft paper insulator of the wires. The fluid is static, and removes heat from the wires by conduction. HPGF uses compressed nitrogen to accomplish basically the same thing.

            HPFF requires a pressurizing source, usually a station at one end of the line, with an oil/gas resorvoir. HPGF requires a regulator and a nitrogen cylinder. The HPGF lines also require manual maintenance, as you can't just leave nitrogen gas cylinder's laying around.

            Couple all of that with usual line maintenance, and you've got one expensive system, all in the name of keeping the sky unobstructed.
          • I'm not sure how many people actually know about Tokyo Teleport Town [tokyo-teleport.co.jp] but that is exactly what they did with all their telecom gear, heating and power transmission cable, all underground with large tunnels to get to it if it becomes necessary.

            I live in a quite forested area of Canada (as you can imagine, it being Canada and all) and I can say it sucks really bad when a tree falls over in a storm and powerlines come down with the tree. Underground power and telecommunications is definetly the way to go, al

            • I grew up in Calgary in the 70s, and our subdivision had all the services (cable, electricity, gas, etc.) underground. Every time there was a severe rainstorm, the electricity and cable went out for a while. :)
        • Here in Belgium to solve the problem of roads being opened multiple times the company that wants it opened has to notify the other companies that it will do so. Then they have the opportunity to put their cables in as well. The cost of opening the road is split between the different companies that put in their cable.
          A couple of years back a lot of new ISP's started putting cable and now all company buildings have wires from all the providers so they can switch to anyone they want.
    • by tedshultz (596089) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @04:26AM (#7793195)
      The wires are such a mess that they would be considered a clear safety hazard by most peoples standards. I was in Shanghai (one of the most advanced cities in china) and I took some photos of both how low the wires were [wisc.edu] (as low at 4 feet off the ground!) and the over head rats nest [wisc.edu]. There was worse, I just didn't have my camera at the time.
    • Personally I've never been bothered by wires up above me. I'd rather have them up there and instantly accessible than deal with the crap of having lawn, road, path and other services dug up, just so a couple of people on the street can see the sky.

      Above-ground wires do bother me. I live in an area with underground power, underground telephone and underground cable. The landscape looks great when there are no cables to obscure the view. I really notice the difference when I visit Sydney or Melbourne; t

    • by misterpies (632880) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @05:15AM (#7793307)

      Actually these days (in countries with a modern infrastructure - so excluding most of the US) underground wires are run through multipurpose conduits rather than just being laid individually. You only have to dig up the road once -- to lay the conduit. After that it's a simply task simply to pull across new wires (and pull out old ones) from one manhole to the next - there are special machines for threading them through the holes.

      Most of the time when the road is dug up, it's to repair services such as water, sewage and gas - not really the sort of thing you can run overhead anyway.
    • Underground is worth the effort remember this place has high incidence of earthquakes and harsh weather (assuming there but it seems to fit the pattern of the pac rim) putting cable underground protects it from a lot of forces making there uptime higher. They only excuse to run wires above ground is it's cheaper initialy and quicker to repair (a little preplanning and that can be fixed for underground) but above ground often needs to be repaired more often.
      • by Detritus (11846)
        After a recent hurricane knocked out power in my area, the people from the electric company said that underground power lines were about 4x the cost of overhead lines. I'm not sure how large a percentage of the power company's total costs that is. Is the public willing to pay the costs of burying the power lines?

        Another issue is rural areas. Some of my relatives live on farms, and they have told me that they have to pay for the power company to string the electric wires from the county road to the buildin

      • this place has high incidence of earthquakes and harsh weather (assuming there but it seems to fit the pattern of the pac rim)

        Not particularly, I don't recall any earthquakes in Shanghai, typhoons are infrequent (every several years). There was flooding in 1998.

    • by DzugZug (52149)
      You, sir, clearly have never been to Shanghai.

      When I read the headline I instantly thought of Shanghai -- especially parts of the old city. The area east of the Huangou isn't as bad but there are places where you really can't see the sky. The photo in the arcicle doesn't give a good sense. Above every street -- all along the street in some neighborhoods -- is what looks like a net of wires. Some places it's so thick that you could crawl across it with little fear of falling through the spaces between t
  • by Ignis Flatus (689403) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @03:34AM (#7793052)
    ... that stealing cable TV would be such a problem in a Communist country?
  • by VariableSanity (578725) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @03:34AM (#7793054)
    Why does this article make me want to look behind my desk? I think its the picture of clothes hanging from the wires... maybe that is where my right sock went!
    • by Amiga Lover (708890) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @03:36AM (#7793060)
      I lost a pair of glasses, for nearly 3 months I had to go without them.

      I found them eventually, hanging on a piece of cat5 just below sight behind my desk.
    • by aardwolf204 (630780) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @04:52AM (#7793255)
      last time you moved your equipment from one room to another, when you booted up did you notice that a third of the wires you once had in your old setup were unused...

      where do these buggers come from? its like they're breeding and no matter how hard i try to keep the female ends on the other side of the desk from the male ones it seems to happen every time.

      And why is it that even though CAT5 cables are male-male they too seem to multiply!
  • That's nothing! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jkrise (535370) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @03:35AM (#7793057) Journal
    I mean, compared to the mess of wireless in the US of A. Several technologies in handsets, numerous carriers, multiple standards, disparate services, lack of inter-operability etc. etc.

    No wonder China is developing a home-grown wireless solution tailored to it's needs.

    -
    • Re:That's nothing! (Score:2, Insightful)

      by powlow (197142)
      big business is always creating problems where they don't exist...

      a new mediums with no inter-operability problems...solution : put up barriers...like dvd...and happening now with wireless...
  • Tell the Afghans (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Zog The Undeniable (632031) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @03:39AM (#7793072)
    A large proportion of their overhead wiring (power/telecoms) has been looted for its metal content. They're not all buying cellphones just because they like the mobility.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    With all the electric bus wires and supporting wires along with cable, telephone, electricty many San Francisco streets, especially in many outer neighborhoods, look worse than the photo in this story.

    It's ok... they still dig the streets up for gas and plumbing.

    • I always thought this was because of earthquakes? Especially the Marina, Sunset and Richmond are built on fairly shaky ground--rather than running around digging up ruptured cable shafts every time something moves, you can just leave it above ground, where it's got some give.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Perhaps but if pipes that have little flex (high pressure gas, water, sewer) can run underground then so can electrical wires.

        There are many 'shaky' areas that have underground utilities.

        I think basically it costs more to bury them
        than to hang them... at least the initial cost.

        • I rather think that this was due to the fact that you _can't_ have those types of lines aboveground. Rather have 3 utilities toast during an earthquake than 6 (power, phone, cable TV.)

          But your cost argument is most likely a big part of it.
  • by mcrbids (148650) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @03:44AM (#7793085) Journal
    The average income in China is rather low. That means, wire is expensive.

    However, if a standard, unified, cooperative standard was released for packet-based communication was released to the public domain, and a reasonably cost-effective solution was available to anybody regardless of size, you'd see the obviation of many of these wires...

    Oh... wait... that's called the Internet, isn't it?

    Seriously, wires are only strung 'cause it's cheaper than the alternative. If there was a standard, effective method of effecting a point to point communication, over IP or whatever, and it was reasonably priced, all those extra wires would go away.

  • by CityZen (464761) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @03:47AM (#7793092) Homepage
    From the article:

    > Wires are just one urban challenge. Bedeviled by ballooning rat populations,
    > Shanghai has turned not to poison but to rodent contraceptives.

    Who gets the job of fitting all the little guys with condoms? :-)
  • by lingqi (577227) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @03:48AM (#7793101) Journal
    For people who has not been to Japan, rent "Serial Experiment Lain" to get an idea of what overhanging wires in japan looks like. luckily people are sane enough (or at lease shy enough, anyway) to not dry their meat on the lines; but one of my commuting routes passes a road that above it is nothing but juxopositions sy shards of visible sky, cut into pieces by wires going every which way.

    but when you dont have the chance to burry things, i guess it's inevitable. (side note, after earthquakes japan tends to use the rebuild phase as a chance to organize some of this stuff, which is neat)
  • just pull it out! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by seanadams.com (463190) * on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @03:50AM (#7793105) Homepage
    The reason it so bad is that they're letting practically anyone string wires. Need a line to the building across the street? Just throw it across. Nobody'll even notice one more wire! I'm sure that the vast majority of those wires are no longer in use - the article talks about attempts to identify who owns what and remove the stuff nobody can claim.

    A few years ago I was doing IT work and the company had rented an office suite in a big 30yr old building. We were pulling cat5 about 40 meters between rooms, along the main hallways. There was a four inch thick layer of ancient wires held up by the cieling panels. At least a hundred times as many wires as there were people working on that floor! The telephone closet was even worse - huge masses of jumpers going back to the MPOE where there was no connection on the other end. There were 25pair cables for old multi-line systems... everything you can imagine. We just left it all there because we had no way of knowing which 0.05% of all that cable was still live.

    Then last year I rented an office in a newer building. Lifted the cieling panels and found a rats nest but not too bad - I think it was about 10 years worth of junk, and it was a smaller place. There had been about five previous tenants and they'd all just installed new systems on top of the crap the previous one left. I just went up there and pulled out EVERYTHING except for one wire - for the thermostat. After that, installing the CAT5 wiring we needed was trivially easy, and since there wasn't a rats nest to dig through everwhere you went, it was easy to route everythign neatly and hang it way up high where it'd be out of the way of future installations.

    Anyway regarding China: there's really no solution other than to dig in, start identifying the old wire, and pulling it out. It's not really that expensive, and it gets easier as you go!
    • Forgot one thing... now that I think about it the building was probably about 40yrs old, and the reason there was so much crap up there was also because the ceilings were filled with asbestos so nobody wanted to spend too much time up there.
    • Re:just pull it out! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Angostura (703910) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @04:05AM (#7793150)
      London Telehouse is similarly amusing. This was one of the first purpose-built Internet colo facilities; the first in London. They rented out rack space, but didn't control who put wires where. Now they, like the Chinese have a situation where they don't know which wires thet can safely yank. A riser cabinet the size of a small room will be just filled with cables of all sizes and hues that no-one has a clue about. More amusingly, there is no so much cable in the underfloor spaces that when you walk along the corridors the floor plates rock from side to side as you tread on them.
    • BAD IDEA (Score:3, Informative)

      by RMH101 (636144)
      you're renting a suite on the first floor. the other five floors above you have to get their cables in through the same risers you use. rip out *a single cable* that breaks something upstairs and you're looking at a lawsuit for lost productivity and the swift application of the Cat5-of-9-tails from several BOFHs.
      Even worse if you pull something like a fire alarm cable that isn't immediately noticed...
      • Re:BAD IDEA (Score:2, Insightful)

        by weave (48069)
        Fire alarm cable is *suppposed* to be in a red jacket for just this reason. But yeah, you have a good point.
    • Nobody gets promoted for taking an extra week to clean out the wiring closet. They do get promoted for getting the job done quickly.

      At my work nobody wants to just get the job done - you get promoted for coming up with a better way of getting the job done. As a result everybody changes every system three times a year, and the new systems break down six months after they're promoted out of responsibility for it...
    • Re:just pull it out! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Halo- (175936)
      My father works at a major university and showed me something amazing. Back in the late 90's when tech-money was booming, the school's technology center requested a large amount of money to expand their server room. The grant was approved, and work began. All told, there were 7 layers of removable computer floor had laid down on top of each other, (one for each OSI layer?) complete with cabling over the years. It was amazingly like an archilogical dig. Anyway, simply removing the old layers of floor in
  • Pfft... (Score:5, Funny)

    by dupper (470576) <adamlouis@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @04:00AM (#7793134) Journal
    They sould see my desk behind my computer. Just last month I lost 3 good men in an expedition to unplug my monitor.
    • Offtopic, but Ikea makes great velcro cable ties. They're about 1" wide and maybe 10" long--superb for keeping things orderly.
  • by millwall (622730) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @04:01AM (#7793143)
    "So China is doing what China usually does when confronted with such dilemmas[...]: It's mounting a campaign, asking the masses for help"

    So why didn't China post this in Askslashdot?
  • Not just China! (Score:5, Informative)

    by fastdecade (179638) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @04:06AM (#7793153)
    Huge problem in Kyoto, Japan's ancient capital. It used to be a pristine, elegant, small city. Its streets are now a tangle of cables.

    This is a problem for societies such as China (now) and Japan (opst-war) which expand too quickly. In the pace of progress, it seems too difficult, too regressive, to take the time for really clever use of technologies, such as building cables underground, digging out walls and restoring the surface again, and, nowadays, wireless where possible.

    If you look at well-preserved places, they still have modern conveniences like aircon, alarms, etc. But they are willing to spend more, often a lot more, to get the best of both worlds.
    • Re:Not just China! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by fuzzybunny (112938) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @04:45AM (#7793242) Homepage Journal

      With Kyoto, it's not just wires--it's general shoddy urbanization. The city has no metro, so public transportation consists of fairly shabby buses, the traffic is insane, and in between historical landmarks, the place is laid out in a grid pattern filled with boxy, unattractive 1960s office buildings (at least the downtown areas.)

      It's really too bad--this is pretty typical of those parts of Japan as a whole that I managed to see (caveat: mainly built-up areas between Himeji and Tokyo.) Buildings were put up and cities planned, seemingly with purely pragmatic concerns in mind, with little regard for aesthetics. Damn shame, really.
      • So a bit like Edinburgh then, without the incomprehensible language?
      • Actually, only Kyoto and some cities on Hokkaido are laid out in a grid and were planned in large scale. This stems from Chinese city planning in the time Kyoto was the capital.

        Most other cities don't follow any particular order, except that of fire, earthquake and some reconstruction-plans.

        And acutally I'd say that is the reason why some parts are quite unattractive. According to the Asahi Shinbun, a new law has been proposed, which puts constraints on the buildings in that way, that they have to fit int
        • That's nice to hear--it's such a beautiful country, studded with some amazing monuments to incompetent unaesthetic architecture, or landscape engineering (i.e. plonking some giant concrete thing smack in the middle of it.) Sort of like here, in Switzerland (most of whose architects should be taken out behind the shed and shot repeatedly.)

          I understand that a lot of it stemmed from the need to build stuff fast during the 1960s nascent economic boom, but I never understood why this happened in Kyoto, which w
  • Growing Pains (Score:5, Informative)

    by gotpaint32 (728082) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @04:08AM (#7793157) Journal
    These are typical of any area undergoing modernization. It is kind of elitest for anyone to say that they lacked planning. (even though they are) Just look at the United States when it was undergoing its telecommunications boom in the early 1900s; (wired one not the wireless kind) countless phone, telegraph, power and who knows what else lines were strung all over the place.

    This is just what happens, planners can't always be expected to accomodate for the booms of a volatile industry, the private sector is pretty resilient, it will work to help itself in the quickest most efficient (not necessarily pretty) way possible. Once the government has had time to catch up and realize the ensuing chaos, then they can work to make everything nice and orderly again without disrupting the oh so important rapid expansionary growth shown in these industries.

    http://www.albionmich.com/history/histor_noteboo k/ R0112.shtml

    Big government sucks!
    • Re:Growing Pains (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Chatmag (646500)
      I remember the same thing in post war Germany. What wasn't bombed out, had wires running everywhere. That was in the mid '50's when I first went to Europe. Later, in the '60's, it wasn't as bad, so I'm assuming it took Germany about 10 years to clean up the wire tangled cities.
    • Re:Growing Pains (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Just look at the United States when it was undergoing its telecommunications boom in the early 1900s; (wired one not the wireless kind) countless phone, telegraph, power and who knows what else lines were strung all over the place.

      Yeah, but there is one very important difference in technology since then. Back then, there were no automated phone switches at all. In the very early days, lines went from point A to point B directly and were dedicated to communication only between those two points. This t

  • by sakusha (441986) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @04:21AM (#7793184)
    The wires ARE "the works."

    Anyway, this isn't just China's problem. Alex Kerr's quite interesting book "Lost Japan" discusses the blight of utility poles and wiring.
  • by aardwolf204 (630780) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @04:46AM (#7793244)
    I read the article (gasp) and then looked directly under my desk... doesnt look like I'm doing much better. So when is Power Over IP going to come out again?

    Another interesting thing to ponder, last time you moved your equipment from one room to another, when you booted up did you notice that a third of the wires you once had in your old setup were unused... where do these buggers come from? its like they're breeding and no matter how hard i try to keep the female ends on the other side of the desk from the male ones it seems to happen every time.

    Yet another thing to consider. I just came back from a 200 person LAN party [eastcoastlan.com] this weekend. A buddy in my clan (read: geeks that LAN together, not CS \"noobs\"); was relieved that he brought his trusty Dell QuietKey keyboard rather than his wireless logitech. The clan sitting directly behind us all were using these devices are were having trouble with interference all the time. Probably could have fixed things with using different channels but by the looks of things (19" LCD, green Antec cases, blue LED casefans) these guys didnt know a CAT5 from a Hello Kitty Personal Vibrator [jlist.com]
  • by HunterZero (102709) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @04:58AM (#7793271) Homepage
    And my father goes over there on a fairly frequent basis for 2-3 months at a time. Always sticks me with taking care of his affairs while he's away... *grumble*

    Anyways, I went all over that damned town. I spent an entire day walking around (mostly because I got lost) and I don't honestly remember there being that much of a massive wire problem overhead. I'd remember it because I'm a geek at heart and got thrown out of more than one cyber cafe for playing around to how to break their censorship software. But I'm getting off track. Sure, there were plenty of lines overhead, but no more so than any large city I've been in, reguardless of country. There's nothing wrong with running wires overhead, you just have to be certain of what you're running and not run useless wire. If it's useless I completely agree with tearing it down.

    Personally, I still think that we should run fiber through the sewage systems to all locations. Everyone has to have sewage, and no one really cares if we run something through it. Why it isn't a standard I don't understand. The expense in the short term is offset by the long term gain in my opinion.
  • by infonick (679715)
    "Over on Hefei Street, one enterprising apartment dweller even used them to hang-dry selected cuts of meat."

    Seriously, if the power/fiber/phone lines are that close to a building, there must be really old standards in place. You can imagine the fun someone would have if they tapped a fiber line for spamming.

    Come to think of it, if someone pulled that off, he/she would never be found because all the wires are in such a mess. It would be like looking for a needle in a field of haystacks!
  • Easy solution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Blackneto (516458) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @05:21AM (#7793322) Journal
    I didn't read the article but...
    Just publiclly annouce that people have 30-60 days to prove whats theirs and why it's there. Anything that isn't claimed is gone.

    We have this problem in our datacenters at times. Projects end or people don't need the servers anymore and don't RTS them. Time comes when theres a problem or we need to know who owns a server. When nobody fesses up we just shut it off till somebody screams.


    • We have this problem in our datacenters at times. Projects end or people don't need the servers anymore and don't RTS them. Time comes when theres a problem or we need to know who owns a server. When nobody fesses up we just shut it off till somebody screams.


      So you let people put crap into your datacenter without getting contact, and backup contact information? One of a datacenter's primary functions should be to keep a complete hardware inventory up to date and accurate.

      -josh
      • Re:Easy solution (Score:2, Informative)

        by Blackneto (516458)
        no

        "It's not our job"

        It should be but it isn't. theres a special group thats supposed to keep track of it all but they fall short of the task many times.

        NOTHING comes in without the things you mentioned. It's just what happens after its there that causes the orphans to appear. We have a DB of it all but without the participants giving up info when necessarry it's useless.

        Basically what happens is a project starts. They order a bunch of shit, we set it up, sometimes load it and it sits there.
        Many things c
    • Re:Easy solution (Score:3, Informative)

      by Idarubicin (579475)
      I didn't read the article but...
      Just publiclly annouce that people have 30-60 days to prove whats theirs and why it's there. Anything that isn't claimed is gone.

      Why doesn't anybody ever read the article?

      So the city is placing public notices in newspapers, describing the various mystery cables and giving their owners 90 days to come forward.

      "No one responds, we cut them," says Li Zhenjun, who oversees the regulatory efforts. "We can't just have people putting up wires at their leisure.''

  • Finding a Broker (Score:5, Interesting)

    by awol (98751) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @05:38AM (#7793363) Journal
    You used to be able to find a broker in Shanghai, by following the yellow cable out of the exchange building and around the streets of the town as it stopped by their offices.

    Actually that's not quite true, but there was a yellow cable that left the exchange building and went to various different installations where exchange activities (including trading) took place. It was just hanging off the poles and you could easily track amongst the spaghetti at the time. That was back in '96, the last time I was there. I dread to think what it must look like now.
  • With covered troughs built into the pavements for the amenities; power, telephone, cable, whatever. Want to build a new road, prepare the foundation and then drop a concrete road block into place.

    It would reduce the amount of digging up of roads and therfore traffic chaos in cities like London as well.

    • Good idea in theory, but they cause extreme tyre noise and they look nasty with all the joints. I can't see them being acceptable in London, although I understand they're more popular in the US.
      • You have the option of putting a tarmac covering over the top of the road surface, it isn't going to be dug up regularly. The only bits which might would be at intersections and it's easy to design for that.

        The key is to build support for the amenity cabling, piping and ducting (All stuff that seems to be an afterthought at the moment) into the pavement in a standard, easy to access manner. Want to fix or lay a cable, lift the top off of the pavement with a crane.

        Damn, I should have patented this.
  • by Conspire (102879) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @06:00AM (#7793402) Homepage
    As an expatriate living in Taiwan and China for 13 years now, I can confirm the fact that most of the big cities here are a big wired mess. Taiwan is perhaps even worse than China, because there are many cable companies and cable is strewn everywhere. I mean it is a mess, and not a very great site to the eye either.

    Shanghai is much better than Taiwan, although still needs some improvement. I think the biggest problem is there is concrete everywhere, so unlike the US where they lay cable underground in the mass sprawling suburbs of the cities. It is hard to do that when you have no suburbs and the cities sprawl for a hundred kilometers, all concrete jungle!

    Interesting enough, I was way deep in Mainland China near Mongolia a couple years ago, and there were huge tracks where they were laying fiber on the sides of the road. I mean this was in the middle of NOWHERE, only coal mines and steel factories I was trying to figure out why they were laying fiber optic cable there. "If only they did that in the cities", I thought to myself at the time. sheesh.
    • I think the biggest problem is there is concrete everywhere, so unlike the US where they lay cable underground in the mass sprawling suburbs of the cities.

      That's why I always laugh when people knock suburbs. It's a good thing not to be packed in like ants!

      • True, but then again, I walk to work. I walk to the pub, I live in a concrete jungle because....well....it is a jungle and the suburbs are just "the suburbs". Tuesday night now, and I can walk straight to the disco club pumping with hundreds of women till dawn. When you are in the suburbs on a Tuesday night you have cable TV, Xbox or of course the fast food chain as your choices for the evening's entertainment. Until I am reach 60 years of age, I'll take the jungle.
  • If a lot of people are involved in running bandit cables, and a bunch of other people get paid to remove them, I can see why their economy is doing so well.
  • by Alsee (515537) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @06:10AM (#7793423) Homepage
    Telephone Fiber Electrical wires.
    Crossing and shorting and starting great fires.
    Sagging and snagging and causing us ires,
    down to the street and around all our tires.

    Intricate knots to confound a Boy Scout.
    Perplexing knots that no one can get out.
    So many knots that I know nothing about.
    Gordian knots I say without a doubt.

    On Tibet Road they dangle
    each and every angle
    on telephone poles
    n garden-hose rolls.

    Black wires Blue wires Magenta you see,
    it's a rainbow put there to serve you 'n me.

    On Beijing Road you can barely see the sky
    Wires no one can seem to identify
    growing and climbing and reaching so high
    all over China's tech-happy city Shanghai.

    Wires to hang-dry selected cuts of meat,
    Wires as planters for growing rows of wheat.

    Wires for poppy-san, wires for mommy-san.
    Wires for you-san, wires for me-san.
    Please do not forget some wires for Nissan!

    Wires in rows for power that glows,
    under my toes and under my nose.
    The question I pose is where it all goes?
    Where it all goes? But nobody knows!

    We are betwix it how do we fix it?
    How do we nix it? Let us sub-six it!

    Oh what a feat I jump from my seat!
    Under the street down under our feet!
    That is no cheat! That would be a treat!
    That would be neat that answer I greet!
    Could that be beat down under concrete?

    -
  • Funny, (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kludge (13653) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @06:31AM (#7793460)
    When I was in Shanghai last year I took this pic [merrill-samuelson.com] out of amusement.
  • until 1888, this is exactly how new york city looked, a rat's nest of wires

    then came the largest blizzard anyone ever saw, they called it the "great white hurricane" [fen.com]

    no one did anything about the electric and telegraph poles in the city, even though wires were snapping, falling and killing people, as well as making the city look like a rat's nest

    pictures [cuny.edu]

    that is, until 1888, when the blizzard FORCED new york city to clean up it's act, and move everything underground... they had no choice! the blizzard knocked down all the poles.

    still, corporations resisted [cuny.edu]

    After the snow stopped and the winds calmed midday Tuesday, much of the mangled debris remained. In the week after the blizzard, the poles and the wires complicated the city's cleanup efforts. The New York Tribune reminded citizens in an editorial on March 13 that a law had been passed to bury the wires, that the companies had the money to make it happen, and that it was "high time to have done with tricks and subterfuges to avoid the plain requirements of duty and of common sense." Unsurprisingly, in the months after the storm, corporate opposition to the city's efforts to force burial of the wires remained strong: Brush Electric Company, for instance, threatened to leave the city if it was forced to bury its wires.


    with the attitudes of the day, you can make the case that had the blizzard of 1888 not happened, new york city to this day might resemble a rat's nest of wires like shanghai is now

    knowing human psychology: that is, don't deal with a problem until you have to, my point is that shanghai probably won't clean up it's act until a typhoon or something (do they get typhoons in shanghai?) forces the city to clean things up, just like new york city in 1888
    • Interesting story.

      "with the attitudes of the day, you can make the case that had the blizzard of 1888 not happened, new york city to this day might resemble a rat's nest of wires like shanghai is now"

      Right! Lucky that storm hit or New Yorkers would have missed 115 years of progress. Because of those damned corporations.
      • if you have a problem with my attitude towards corporations doing wrong in society, then i have a problem with your attitude that corporations can do no wrong

        i don't actually think you think corporations can do no wrong, so don't think i think they can do no right

        so stop attacking me the same time you thank me for my interesting story, asshole

  • Anyone seen the movie "Brazil"? Perhaps it's
    prophetic here... ;)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    probably antennas for clandestine radio stations.
  • by dmatos (232892) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @12:26PM (#7795593)
    Are the nests of wire as bad as these?

    The Jim Saga, Part 1 [penny-arcade.com]

    The Jim Saga, Part 2 [penny-arcade.com]

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