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Ask Slashdot: What Is the Future of Old Copper Pair Technology? 347

Posted by timothy
from the and-we-liked-it dept.
p00kiethebear writes "My father works for a large corporation that licenses ISDN lines (among a plethora of other services) including T1 and T3 technology. Surprisingly there are still large companies that use fifty year old T1 technology to handle their voice and data use. My father's 30 year career has been almost exclusively in helpdesk / troubleshooting T1 / ISDN technology and both he and I are worried about the future. Cable modems and DSL have replaced ISDN in most cases and it's now an archaic solution reserved for voice actors, tech support-terminal workers, large companies that need voice and video conferencing, and data and private users too far from the loop for DSL or Cable. My dad is still 15 years from retirement. Is twisted copper going the way of the dodo or is it here to stay for the foreseeable future?"
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Ask Slashdot: What Is the Future of Old Copper Pair Technology?

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  • Copper? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mrmeval (662166) <`mrmeval' `at' `gmail.com'> on Sunday June 02, 2013 @01:55PM (#43890387) Journal

    All of that wiring will be reclaimed. It's not worth as much as wiring as it is in thousands of other items. Even the copper coated steel wiring is worth more as other things. You have fiber and wireless and I don't see anything else soon.

    • Re:Copper? (Score:5, Informative)

      by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @02:00PM (#43890415) Homepage

      For low-latency and lossless point-to-point across town, we couldn't find ANY ISP's connection technology that could beat the T1.

      Expensive, but rock solid and quick (vs fast).

      • by zerofoo (262795) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @03:11PM (#43890837)

        We use FIOS for our internet connectivity, but we still rely on MPLS over T1s to interconnect our offices and handle our VOIP traffic. VPN over the public internet simply had too much latency to be useful. It's archaic, but it works.

        • by dgatwood (11270) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @06:56PM (#43892231) Journal

          Private fiber links will likely render even that use obsolete eventually. It's just a question of how long it will take before the cost comes down and availability goes up.

        • I've just been through the experience of getting Internet connectivity to an office outside the regions covered by DSL and Cable Internet (by a half mile). I had a choice to spend megabucks to have ISDN/T1/T3 run out, or choose a wireless solution. While, I'd certainly prefer DSL or Cable Internet, and then T1/T3, and only fall back to ISDN if the only other choice was dial-up. True ISDN could be coupled to get higher bandwidth, in fact you can bundle ISDN up to T1 speeds, but that's not basic ISDN.

          I choose

      • Re:Copper? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by RulerOf (975607) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @03:48PM (#43891047)

        Expensive, but rock solid and quick (vs fast).

        Every time I see a statement like this, it reminds me we could really use some better single-word descriptors to disambiguate a connection that is

        • High vs. Low bandwidth
        • High vs. Low Latency
        • All possible combinations of the two

        Not that we don't understand what you meant of course! I just have a feeling that "fast" or "quick" will be rather ambiguous ways to describe a network connection for a rather long time :P

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        I could, rent a dark fiber from point to point. buy your own used and out of date 10BaseT Fiber transceivers for almost nothing and I have a solid 10Megabit connection From the Central office to the secondary location. and when we find some single mode 100BaseT used fiber gear for dirt cheap, we will upgrade to that.

        Did you investigate what fiber was available? Terminating fiber ends is trivial nowdays.

      • by Bengie (1121981)
        I got Active Gigabit Ethernet fiber from my ISP, which the entire city is getting. I started a ping -t from my work, which has a 10Gb fiber connection, but has a different upstream provider, so the trace route goes from MidWest to Texas back up to MidWest, which is about a 2500 mile round-trip according to Google Maps. After 550k+ pings over a 7 day period, I had about 0.08% packetloss.

        So, couldn't find any connection technology that could beat a T1?.. Ha!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lumpy (12016)

      You are funny.

      If you think telcos will happily abandon 50+ year old wiring and gleefully pull fiber everywhere, you are living in a wierd utopian dream.

      Reality is that Telcos will fight tooth and nail to spend a dime on infrastructure. Copper twisted pair will be around for another 100 years simply because of the extreme greed that american telecommunications companies enjoy. You see, replacing all that with fiber to each home will reduce profits by 25%. and we absolutely can not tolerate reduced profits

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        In our area, Verizon actually has been offering a free network upgrade from copper to fiber. (!)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by VanGarrett (1269030)

        Because the telcos all have their own bottomless pit full of money, and uprooting their entire infrastructure should really just be a drop in the bucket to them.

        If the telcos are to be forced to replace their infrastructure, then they should be subsidized for doing so. At the same time, there should be no subsidies of that sort that should be coming from our government until our politicians can get their shit together and get our treasury into a manageable state. In the mean time, it is reasonable for telco

      • Copper wire is more valuable than fiber so that changes the economics somewhat.

      • I can tell you one telco that is absolutely desperate to shed itself of copper.

        Verizon

        Specifically, Verizon in New York City, who has so much rotten copper that six months after it was submerged in salt water after Sandy, they have absolutely no idea when they'll be able to finish yanking it all out and replacing it with fiber.

      • Re:Copper? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Kjella (173770) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @06:35PM (#43892095) Homepage

        I can't speak for the US, but here in Norway copper is going away because all the profitable areas have disappeared since in all densely populated areas people get faster and better broadband elsewhere or have switched to cell phones. The phone network that once had 2.6 million subscribers is now down to 800.000 and in rapid decline. What they're left with is a need to maintain a huge copper network more and more sparely populated and mainly with the elderly that don't use any expensive services. By 2017 they expect basic phone service to be gone, either they're pulling fiber or going wireless. The first pilot county is switching now 31st of August this year, after that the phones are literally dead.

        P.S. As a substitute for the elderly they are offering phones that look like the old landlines, but that are really cell phones in drag, as far as I know they also contain a decent size battery (hey, you got the space right?) so as long as they can keep the cell towers up and running - or bring in mobile replacements - things should be pretty reliable.

    • by freman (843586)

      Just keep a watch on the September elections in Australia

      If the Coalition get in you can gaurentee 20 more years of copper wiring here - so when wherever you are goes all modern and new, move down under - we're backwards.

  • DSL over copper (Score:5, Insightful)

    by raburton (1281780) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @01:58PM (#43890405)

    The question seems to use copper wire and ISDN interchangeably. In the UK the DSL you mention runs over those copper wires, so they aren't going anywhere.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @02:04PM (#43890439)

    No matter how easy to use some new technology is, someone will still need help with it.

    As to your father, he I'm guessing he will be able to learn enough to help others with it.

    No matter how little you think you know about something, there are still plenty of other who know even less.

  • 20MBit (Score:4, Informative)

    by angel'o'sphere (80593) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @02:07PM (#43890459) Homepage Journal

    In germany some people ha e 20MBit DSL connections via old copper phone cables. The problem not having that throuhgput are usually interconnections, and not the twisted pairs.

    • by Guspaz (556486)

      I have 50 megabit DSL via old copper phone cables, and if my ISP swapped out my DSLAM, I'd qualify for 75 megabit when they introduce that.

  • by EvilJoker (192907) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @02:08PM (#43890463)

    If you're worried about your skills becoming obsolete, then GET NEW SKILLS! This isn't that hard. Anyone in a technology field should not expect to use the same skill set for 30 (!) years, let alone 45.

    Granted, this far along in the process may experience a bit of a renaissance (much like COBOL programmers), but if job security is a concern, it's time for some new education/training.

    • If you're worried about your skills becoming obsolete, then GET NEW SKILLS! This isn't that hard. Anyone in a technology field should not expect to use the same skill set for 30 (!) years, let alone 45.

      Granted, this far along in the process may experience a bit of a renaissance (much like COBOL programmers), but if job security is a concern, it's time for some new education/training.

      The major issue is usually not the 'get new skills' part per se; but the 'then get hired by people who could also just hire Joe 22-year-old whose first skills are your new skills, and who won't cost our insurance plan as much and is probably willing to start for less'.

      • by Firethorn (177587)

        Well, odds are he's already working for a telephone company that also offers DSL, Fiber, etc...

        If he learns the (relatively) new technology, he should spin it as '30+ years of tech support experience, including DSL, Fiber, ISDN, T1, etc...'

        While there are substantial differences between the technologies, they still have much in common that he should be able to leverage. Not to mention the 30 years experience calming down irate business customers.

  • by MpVpRb (1423381) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @02:13PM (#43890493)

    ATT is forcing DSL users to switch to Uverse fiber-to-the-box with short copper to the home.

    I got a tour of a central office a while ago. Entire floors were empty as the old copper infrastructure was removed

    They called it "mining" the old copper

    The technicians say that no money is being spent to upgrade the copper infrastructure that remains. It will continue to decay until it fails

    Yes, copper will survive into the future, but there will be less of it, and the quality will be worse

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @02:41PM (#43890681) Journal

      Yes, copper will survive into the future, but there will be less of it, and the quality will be worse

      Depending on how much less, and how much legacy customers are willing to pay, this could actually be convenient for an experienced support tech, of course...

      Infrastructure decay should open up a vast supply of weird and ghastly problems with connections over those lines. The main question is whether there are enough high-rolling legacy customers(and/or enough institutional inertia) that there will still be demand for people to keep the remaining copper customers on life support, or whether the across-the-board solution to copper problems will be "This upgrade is Exciting and Mandatory"...

    • More support work for Dad!

    • by jo7hs2 (884069)
      I hope it decays soon in my neighborhood. Currently, AT&T only offers DSL at 1.5 down, despite the fact that I'm in a built up area. They routinely call or mail me begging me to come back, offering me up to X/Y speeds, then when I remind them they don't offer that here they get all confused. My only decent option is from my nemesis Comcast.
  • twisted copper isn't going anywhere anytime soon. you just can't fit as much in the air.

  • by The Cisco Kid (31490) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @02:14PM (#43890503)

    1. Its already there, pretty much everywhere.
    2. Only one end needs to have power for it to work. (This is the "911 works even when the power is out" issue)
    3. You don't need multi-thousand dollar tools to splice it or terminate it.
    4. You don't need multi-hundred dollar equipment to connect to it.

    • by Guspaz (556486) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @02:33PM (#43890609)

      1. is not true in some places. Bell Aliant's territory (most of eastern Canada) is now primarily fiber, with very little copper left. They decided to replace their entire network, and then went and did it.
      2. is partially true, but battery backups (frequently included in the install) keep things running for hours, making this much less of a problem than people think. Also, during extended power outages, the battery backups at your telco's CO only lasts so long, and they only have so many generators to recharge them with, so this problem affects copper too.
      3. is misleading because fiber is cheaper to deploy on the whole, the cost of individual pieces of equipment is irrelevant when the overall process is cheaper.
      4. is untrue, you can find GPON ONTs for $65 or less.

      • by sjames (1099)

        But to give scale to issue 2, I have seen the phones keep working when the power outage lkasted a week. I don't think the poorly maintained battery backup in your utility closet at home will be lasting a week, even if it manages not to fail outright. The backups in the CO are latrge, redundant, and maintained by experts.

        • by Guspaz (556486)

          If the outage is widescale enough, as it was in 1998 during the ice storm, it doesn't matter who maintains them. There are only so many generators to go around to recharge those batteries, and acquiring additional generators is impossible when millions of other people are trying to do the same thing.

          • by sjames (1099)

            I never claimed outage was impossible. If the CO gets a direct nuclear strike, naturally I won't get a dial tone.

            What I said is that the CO will have a longer uptime and better chance of the backup working in the first place than a battery in your utility closet will.

            Or look at the other angle. When the CO isn't providing the power, you can only make a call if your backup and their backup are both working. When the CO is providing the power, you cut the number of failure points in half.

    • by roc97007 (608802)

      > 1. Its already there, pretty much everywhere.

      ...except that (a) most of what's already there was laid back when nobody had even conceived of sending data over copper, leaving a terrible snarl that gives a TDR fits, and (b) it's starting to get really old. The hot setup is to rip it all out and relay it in a more data-friendly fashion. But if you're going to do that, it makes more sense to lay fiber instead.

    • 1. Except where it has corroded away. In Australia, for example, maintenance of the ageing copper network is costing around $1B/year.

      2. True, but ironically perhaps, using copper for your last mile ends up having MORE power problems than fibre. FTTN cabinets must all have backup batteries at the fibre/copper junction, whereas GPON nodes in a pure fibre network can be completely passive.

  • by gravis777 (123605) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @02:19PM (#43890531)

    ISDN, T1 and T3 lines are dedicated, whereas cable is shared. ISDN, T1 and T3 lines are also synchronous connections. Even in business-class cable and DSL connections, I rarely see synchronous speeds (doesn't mean they don't exist, just means that they seem to be rare). In the larger cities, I see major companies going to Fiber connections, but in smaller cities and towns, T1 and T3s are still the way to go.

    Our company still has ISDN lines as backups when the fiber fails.

    At least in the States, where you have a lot of smaller towns and rural areas with sometiimes hundreds of miles between them and the largest hub, I see copper pair staying around for a while yet.

    • by Belial6 (794905)
      The lack of synchronous plans on DSL and cable are business decisions, not technical ones.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mwissel (869864)

      Even in business-class cable and DSL connections, I rarely see synchronous speeds (doesn't mean they don't exist, just means that they seem to be rare).

      By any chance you meant to write symmetric instead of synchronous? As in, upstream and downstream bandwidth are the same?

      If so, then you need to find the right ISP. You could always order S(symmetric)DSL connections, but they are usually much more expensive than ADSL in both monthly fees and modems, thus they are rare. Most end users either don't need the upsteam provided by SDSL for the given cost or realize this through other technologies because they need even more than DSL's capabilities.

      However, it's (

    • by Dadoo (899435)

      but in smaller cities and towns, T1 and T3s are still the way to go.

      I'd like to know what you mean by small town, then. I live in what I'd call a small town. We've got roughly 80,000 people and we're the largest city within at least a 100 mile radius. Our ISP ran a fiber to our computer room and connected it to a media converter, the other side of which is Ethernet. We used to have two T1s, but the fiber/Ethernet connection gave us three times the bandwidth for maybe a 3% increase in price.

  • by supersat (639745) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @02:20PM (#43890535)
    It seems pretty clear to me that circuit switched networks will be phased out in the next 10 years. AT&T has petitioned the FCC to transition to an all-IP network by 2018. At that point, you might have virtual circuit-switched connections, but with none of the advantages of real circuit-switched networks or the cost savings of IP. Existing copper lines were never intended to carry much bandwidth, so while they're still used for last-mile access in many cases (e.g. DSL), going forward it seems like coax or fiber are going to be the only competitive technologies. I believe some telcos are already replacing twisted pair bundles damaged by Hurricane Sandy with fiber.
    • by wd5m (2938693)
      I tend to agree. This Week In Radio Tech (TWiRT), an audio podcast for radio/TV nerds, provided some interesting commentary from the a broadcast engineer perspective. See episode 164. [thisweekinradiotech.com] To quote their introduction...

      How did we get to this point where the end of ISDN is worrying broadcast engineers? Was ISDN that good? Is IP-audio that scary? Can we master the packets and get IP connections to work reliably and robustly for us as broadcasters? The answer is – mostly yes.

    • by Animats (122034) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @02:58PM (#43890795) Homepage

      It seems pretty clear to me that circuit switched networks will be phased out in the next 10 years.

      They're coming back. They're just called "software defined networks" now. Look at what OpenFlow really does. [openflow.org]

  • by mysidia (191772) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @02:22PM (#43890545)

    As for helpdesk support... support isn't going anywhere. Although I feel like it's a fruitless pursuit to spend your entire career in. If you're 15 years away from retirement, I would seriously be looking for opportunities for education and advancement, to a more managerial position, where you could have more impact, and maybe get a higher inome for a better retirement.

    As you mentioned.... people too far for DSL.

    Aside from clear channel DS3; which I don't think is even an argument, that those are going anywhere -- businesses still buy those. And the capacity and assurance that the bandwidth will be available is much higher than DSL.

    As you didn't mention... businesses that need something more reliable than DSL, and a SLA from their telecommunications provider. DSL is typically best-effort by the ILEC; sometimes taking 48 to 72 hours to repair. ISDN services are less fragile, and typically have a tigher SLA for diagnosis and repair -- and hey the insult required to break ISDN are essentially drastic situations like stray voltage on the line, cut or short-circuit.

    DSL reception can be totally broken, or the speed suddenly greatly diminished, by a huge variety of minor insults to the copper, where electrical continuity isn't lost.

    The performance you will get from a T1 link by contrast, is pretty much a certain thing, barring severe damage to the copper.

    Businesses requiring POTS applications; believe it or not, VoIP doesn't work for just anything, and still might not be preferred even if it's cheaper; the reliability and security characteristics of POTS may be preferred.

    For example: IT security departments like POTS, because VoIP is so vulnerable, and easy to record, intercept, and forge calls, in case of network intrusion.

    Various applications work better with POTS, such as fax machines and alarm systems. In large sites, there is likely to be some need, and maybe enough need that a PRI or channelized T1 is required for 24 phone lines.

    Existing services where T1/T3 is already in place are unlikely to be changed; where they are filling the need. Not every business wants to tempt fate by switching kinds of service if there is no need to it --- for the forseeable future, there is no massive exodus for DSL.

    DS3 signalling isn't going anywhere either; it's the way of muxing a bunch of T1s or SLA guaranteed customer circuits for circuit protection and mapping across the transport network infrastructure. A bunch of DS0s become DS1s; a bunch of DS1s become DS3s; a bunch of DS3s become OC-xxx; a bunch of those so-called obsolete T1s form the backbone of a telco transport network.

    • by Vrtigo1 (1303147)

      DS3 signalling isn't going anywhere either; it's the way of muxing a bunch of T1s or SLA guaranteed customer circuits for circuit protection and mapping across the transport network infrastructure. A bunch of DS0s become DS1s; a bunch of DS1s become DS3s; a bunch of DS3s become OC-xxx; a bunch of those so-called obsolete T1s form the backbone of a telco transport network.

      I won't claim to be intimately aware of telco operations, but it's my understanding that more and more telcos are ditching channelized copper on the backbone and migrating toward IP based solutions over fiber because they're easier to work with. If copper will still be here in 15 or 20 years I don't see it in the backbone, I see it as the last mile.

      • by mysidia (191772)

        I won't claim to be intimately aware of telco operations, but it's my understanding that more and more telcos are ditching channelized copper on the backbone

        Telcos are usually using channelized fiber on the backbone.

        IP based protocols don't provide reliable delivery and circuit protection switching. For the forseeable future, only VoIP providers are switching voice to IP at the backbone, and providers that sell circuits to customers are not.

    • by D1G1T (1136467)

      As for helpdesk support... support isn't going anywhere.

      I agree with you except for this. Unless his dad is working from India, I'm amazed he's still got a helpdesk job. Time to move on or up.

      • by mysidia (191772)

        Unless his dad is working from India, I'm amazed he's still got a helpdesk job. Time to move on or up.

        As long as he's advanced helpdesk Level 3 or higher, and he's not in the first line Level 1 or Level 2 support job; I don't think he has much to worry about from India.

        The engineering outsourcing fad is just about over, if not over.

        Go ask Dell about how well that worked for them in the long run, farming out all their work to overseas companies -- by outsourcing everything, they outsourced their

  • People steal it, soon they may even remove it off the poles.

    HELLO?
  • First of all you should ask if ISDN and T1 are "going the way of the dodo", not copper. DSL runs over copper too so copper is and will be relevant in the foreseeable future. Although it certainly depends on where you live, most businesses that migrate from ISDN/T1/E1 services go to DSL or FO. With DSL you have adsl,vdsl,shdsl,vdsl bonding, anything that can do EFM anyway, so copper isn't going anywhere anytime soon. For some end users that are too far for DSL, there are 3G routers and other wireless solutio
  • PRI? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Vrtigo1 (1303147) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @02:35PM (#43890635)
    You seem to be focused on BRI ISDN which is what is used by those you referenced (TV remotes, voice actors, etc). It is an extremely low bandwidth connection (128 Kbps) but "it works" and is probably not going away anytime soon. PRI is probably much more prevalent. PRI is what I would consider the T1 of ISDN. It is commonly used for enterprise PBX systems, and I definitely don't see it going away anytime soon. The only other realistic option I see at present is SIP, but even then unless it's delivered over fiber SIP services are still probably going to come in over some kind of copper medium (be it T1, etc). Some companies are moving to fiber, but there is usually considerably more cost associated with bringing fiber to the premises as compared to copper which likely is already on premise.

    My company has fiber on premise for IP, but we still have PRIs from the LEC for our voice service. Any time you bring voice in over an IP transport (as in SIP), you have to make sure the IP network has proper QoS, etc whereas PRI "just works". PRI is usually more expensive, but not overly so. When we replaced our PBX a few years ago we considered SIP, but when we presented the various options to the powers that be, they chose to stick with PRI because it has a proven track record whereas SIP was just gaining traction in the market.

    I think in 15 years you will definitely see fiber steal a large market share of those customers that are currently using copper, but I think there will still be plenty of copper around.
  • by Zarhan (415465) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @02:36PM (#43890643)

    Like someone else commented, the poster uses terms "Copper" and "ISDN" interchangeably. However, with the inclusion of terms like T1/T3, it's clearly about "what can an old telco-guy do in this newfangled IP-based world with 15 years before retirement". Copper here is a misnomer, a lot of stuff can happen over copper (DSLs being the most obvious example).

    I have some familiarity in just how dead the technology is. We have a big customer who just placed a big order for Cisco's PVDM digital modems [cisco.com]. Why "big", if the tech is dying? Well, that stuff is going to end-of-sale after this summer and they have lot of legacy systems around the globe that dial in (machine-to-machine stuff, and not easily upgradeable everywhere at once). They are moving to IP-based systems but cannot really do that fast enough. Anyway, one of the biggest vendors of network equipment just decided that they aren't going to sell modems that can talk directly to E1/T1 line (analog 2-port models are still in the selection though). I don't know that anyone else is selling such stuff either (Alcatel maybe?). That technology had it's day, but it's long gone.

    There might of course be places where, due to signaling constraints, you need to run a E1/T1, but it doesn't really use any of the features. You just run PPP over that link and be done with it - no one cares about the intricasies of Q.931 framing or setting up calls for such links. Even in telephony, it will continue to have some uses, for example many PBX systems still only provide E1/T1 uplink - even if it's going to be used just to connect couple of feet to the SIP gateway right at the next rack.

    Frankly, your father has two choices: Either
      a) Get entrenched into some niche that really can keep on going with ISDN-based technologies for the next 15 years - you know, maintain job security by being the "only one left who understands this piece of legacy junk that we cannot migrate away from fast". Frankly, I find such positions hard to imagine - sure, maybe if he was retiring in this decade, it could work, but hardly in the 2020's.
      or
      b) Join the IP world. Frankly, I would think that with a reasonable effort he could still become an expert in VoIP - you still need skills like provisioning (for QoS), codecs (even the G.711a/mu-law is relevant), and so on. Lot of the concepts in SIP are still based on the good old stuff from telco days. You just need to wrap your head around the concept that instead of TDM sending each frame at exactly right intervals, you get packets that might occasionally get lost or routed wrongly or arrive out-of-order...And frankly, you also don't need to care anymore about stuff like SPID's or TEIs. Which I would think of a relief.

  • I think twisted copper as a system of long distance wiring will gradually become less common but won't go away completely for years. Some telcos will likely phase it out quicker than others.

    I think Traditional twisted pair telco interfaces (pots, ISDN BRI, ISDN PRI, inband T1 etc) will remain available for those who want to buy them regardless of the physical plant the teclo is using. However I also think such services will likely be priced higher than comparable services delivered by more modern technologi

  • by spaceyhackerlady (462530) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @02:49PM (#43890727)

    My employers' primary business has, until recently, been based on T1. We are now migrating to VoIP.

    The customer experience is improved (if they notice the change at all), we're opening up new paths for future development, and we're getting away from obsolete legacy hardware that is no longer manufactured or supported. We're also saving the company oodles of money. What the telcos want for T1 these days just isn't pretty.

    I'm 51, BTW. Old dogs can indeed learn new tricks.

    ...laura

  • by bloggerhater (2439270) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @02:49PM (#43890731)

    I'm an engineer with one of the largest communications companies in the U.S.. It will be a long time before we see reliable high speed saturation in the more rural regions... mostly because of the prohibitive cost of deployment. OP's dad may need to move or telecommute at some point...but his skill set will be needed for some time to come.

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @02:51PM (#43890741) Journal

    Do people still use DSL? In my area the choices are cable or fiber to the house. It seems like, if you were going to worry about DSL taking over for ISDN, you'd be doing that in the late nineties.

    I suppose some big corporations still use ISDN for the same reason some companies still use 3179 terminals. A large initial investment in what has become stale technology, and it's just easier to continue to piece together what they have than to swap it out for a modern technology. That said, it seems like there should be a significant price advantage to switching to something from, you know, this century.

    I'd recommend your dad train up on modern technology. Learning keeps you young, and let's face it, 15 years is a long time in computer tech. That's enough time to have a whole 'nother career. Sorry he won't have an opportunity to coast the rest of the way to retirement, but thems the breaks. (Speaking as someone who will be 56 in just a few days.)

    • by amorsen (7485)

      What is wrong with DSL? It is unshared last-mile (well, more like last-100m these days) unlike cable, and it is already in the ground unlike fiber. The shared nature of cable means that it is difficult for regulators to get rid of the monopoly of the cable company. In contrast, the copper for DSL could until recently be wired directly to whichever competitor DSLAM the customer chose, although with DSLAMs in the cabinets this is becoming less feasible.

      The effective bandwidth provided by cable and fiber to ea

      • by roc97007 (608802)

        What's wrong with DSL is that it was layered on top of a technology that was barely appropriate for the task (is not at all appropriate in densely populated areas with very old infrastructure) and which is currently dying out. The trend is to drop land lines in favor of having a cell as your primary phone. DSL is a reasonable long transitory step, but transitory it is.

        The maximum we ever got on DSL around the turn of the century is 3 Mbs, and we have relatively young wires in this area. With fiber, the *

    • Tons of people still use DSL. Not every local phone co is running fiber and who in their right mind would buy from Comcast?

      • by roc97007 (608802)

        Ok, "who in their right mind would buy from Comcast?" -- I'll give you that. But looking at this from a marketing standpoint, with Comcast offering speeds in the double digits, how does a DSL provider offering 1 Mbps download speeds keeping any customers? The reason to lay fiber is that Comcast, as odious as it is, will eat your lunch if you don't.

        • Because 1 Mbps is indistinguishable from 100 Mbps to the average person. Until you get into streaming Netflix which needs 3 Mbps the average person can't tell.

          • by roc97007 (608802)

            I submit that this isn't actually true. My mother (in her seventies) I've always considered an average person, and even she can see that youtube (for instance) as well as any site that shows ... say, movie trailers, for instance, are absolutely useless at 1 Mb/sec. Even my cell phone is faster.

            I'll grant you, if all a user does with the internet is download static text, they're not going to tell the difference. I'll even submit that higher than 15 Mbps is mostly for bragging rights. But 1 Mbps is too lo

  • ISDN is great! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Animats (122034) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @03:22PM (#43890883) Homepage

    ISDN voice is great. No lag beyond speed of light lag. No jitter. No dropouts. No analog noise. True full duplex. End to end digital. It's telephony perfected. Switzerland has residential ISDN, and when I get calls from Switzerland, they're so clear.

    Far, far better than cellular or VoIP. I'm really tired of voice cell conversations with a full second of lag in them. Sometimes there's so much lag the echo suppressors can't cope.

    Why are we putting up with crap voice quality on telephones?

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Why are we putting up with crap voice quality on telephones?

      You make calls with your phone?

    • by mwissel (869864)

      Because nobody wants to pay for the quality so much sought after.

      By the way, G.722 wideband calls are the best thing I ever heard on my phone when there is no transcoding in between. We have the infrastructure in our company, it's a treat for the ears ;-).

      Naturally, int'l calls with least cost routing and numerous transit providers in between can never lead into good voice quality with VoIP.

  • by macraig (621737) <`mark.a.craig' `at' `gmail.com'> on Sunday June 02, 2013 @04:07PM (#43891143)

    I say let those two long-suffering wires finally get it on with each other... enough with the twists and stress and tension already!

  • As someone who has worked on a IP/ISDN drive for a popular networking company, I'd be very happy to see ISDN leave forever.
    The protocols involved are horrid.

  • by evilviper (135110) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @05:33PM (#43891713) Journal

    Copper will definitely be around for another 15 years, easily. HOWEVER, that doesn't mean you're guaranteed a job if that's all you know. When any technology becomes less popular quickly, there's a glut of personnel, and massive layoffs can be expected.

    Copper is sure to remain in-use. While Verizon is (very slowly) going fully fiber to the home with FIOS, AT&T is sticking with U-Verse, which is fiber to the block, with copper still making-up the last mile. And that installed base of T-1s and T-3s isn't about to just go away. But like I said, telcos will need fewer and fewer people around to support the dwindling customer base, so layoffs are likely.

    And besides twisted pair, there's no sign of coax disappearing any time soon.

    As others have said, you should have be brushing up on your fiber optic skills. In fact you should have been learning about fiber 15 years ago like I did. That was back when every ISP on the planet was pulling huge amounts of fiber across the planet, and the future of data was obviously going to be fiber. Now, wireless (802.11 & LTE) are undercutting the bright future I expected for fiber, but only slightly, as fiber is usually the backhaul for those technologies as well.

  • by Fnord666 (889225) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @05:39PM (#43891757) Journal
    Timothy,
    Learn how to post "ask slashdot" stories to the Ask Slashdot section so that filters work correctly. Otherwise what is the point in having the ability to set a filter.
  • by LostMyBeaver (1226054) on Monday June 03, 2013 @02:11AM (#43893869)
    Let me start by saying "Adapt or die". That said, as a Cisco instructor, I still teach a ton of T1/E1 and Frame Relay.

    The reason is simple. Power and resiliency. When you're a government agency who is deploying massive numbers of sensors for weather and earth quake monitoring, it is often cheaper to install and maintain equipment based on a cheap pair of copper wire capable of carrying power and signal over long distances. Thanks to T1/ISDN having been designed to function over long distances when all network switching for a telephone company was centralized instead of ASDL which is last mile only, T1 is a far more attractive tech.

    Others here might say "What about solar cells and batteries?" Even the most reliable batteries won't last more than 4 years in "the wild". T1 lines can run for a dozen years or more without sending out a helicopter into the mountains for repairs.

    So, while I believe that T1 is dead in business unless it's in deep rural areas, it is still rapidly growing in weather, radar and earth quake monitoring.

I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the demigodic party. -- Dennis Ritchie

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