Summary

As deployments of ultra-high speed networks continue their progress, operators have to decide on the fate of their legacy copper networks. Literally, they must deal with their exit from the era of copper.

Aging copper-based infrastructure is increasingly costly to maintain, especially when the operator is confronted with customers’ growing expectations for network performance and quality of service impacted by FTTP standards.

Over the past couple of years, incumbents have started to announce their copper switch-off dates and implement the dismantling of their legacy networks.
However, NGA deployment plans are not going universally at the same pace, and although the migration to fibre is ongoing steadily, a significant proportion of broadband accesses still relies on ADSL.

Based on operators’ first-hand experiences with copper switchoff initiatives in Europe, Asia and North America, this report aims at providing an in-depth view of how copper decommissioning initiatives take place, of what is at stake for the various parties and of how players are balancing the many diverse and sometimes countervailing interests at work behind the switch-off of legacy networks.

Table of contents

1. Executive summary

2. The copper switch-off: current status
2.1. What is the ‘copper switch-off’?
2.2. Maintaining both fibre and legacy networks puts operators under pressure
2.3. Decommissioning copper networks should enable significant savings
2.4. Decommissioning copper involves four major steps
2.5. Client migration is a critical aspect of legacy network shutdown
2.6. The complexity of copper switch-off processes demands investment efforts
2.7. The entire telecommunications ecosystem is impacted by the copper switch-off

3. Drivers and obstacles to decommissioning copper
3.1. Switching off copper is incentivised by financial and political aspects
3.2. However, switching off legacy networks demands long-term investments
3.3. The copper switch-off becomes profitable in the longer run

4. Worldwide copper switch-off Outlook
4.1. The copper incumbents have been gradually announcing roadmaps to shutdown

5. Case studies – Copper switch-off initiatives
5.1. Telenor – Norway
5.1.1. Norwegian NRA mandates operators to comply with broadband universal service obligations
5.1.2. Telenor’s well-advanced project will be a game-changer for the Norwegian broadband market
5.2. China Unicom – China
5.2.1. Broadband China strategy is accelerating large-scale fibre rollout
5.2.2. Strong government support stimulated China Unicom copper switch-off projects
5.3. Telefónica – Spain
5.3.1. Fast FTTH deployments enabled good level of fibre coverage in line with Spanish Digital Agenda
5.3.2. Telefónica project eyes, first and foremost, being a commercial operation
5.4. Orange – France
5.4.1. ADSL remains the dominant access while FTTH deployments are ongoing
5.4.2. The Orange copper switch-off initiative is a complex operational project with a long pathway to return on investment

6. Conclusions and IDATE Insights

List of tables and figures

List of tables and figures

2. The copper switch-off: current status
• Copper- and fibre-based network architectures
• Different levels of switch-off
• The key issues behind the copper switch-off
• The dismantlement of a copper network in stages
• Opex and operating profit for switching off copper networks

3. Drivers and obstacles to decommissioning copper
• Opex for switching off copper networks

5. Drivers and obstacles to decommissioning copper
• Broadband subscribers in Norway, as of December 2018
• Fibre homes passed (incl. FTTB) and subscribers vs. ADSL subscribers in Norway, as of December 2018
• Broadband subscribers in China, as of December 2018
• Fibre homes passed (incl. FTTB) and subscribers vs. ADSL subscribers in China, as of December 2018
• Broadband subscribers in Spain, as of December 2018
• Fibre homes passed (incl. FTTB) and subscribers vs. ADSL subscribers in Spain, as of December 2018
• Broadband subscribers in France, as of December 2018
• Fibre homes passed (incl. FTTB) and subscribers vs. ADSL subscribers in France, as of December 2018

Geographic area

Asia-Pacific Europe North America World

Players

  • AT&T
  • China Mobile
  • China Telecom
  • China Unicom
  • KPN
  • Openreach
  • Orange
  • Portugal Telecom
  • Swisscom
  • Telecom Italia
  • Telefónica
  • Telenor
  • Telstra
  • Telia
  • Verizon

Other details

  • Reference: M19560MRA
  • Delivery: on the DigiWorld Interactive platform
  • Languages available: English
  • Tags: ADSL, copper decommissioning, copper networks, copper switch-off, copper-based infrastructure, fibre, FTTH, legacy networks, ultra-high speed networks

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