My learned colleague from TelecomAsia, John Tanner, recently wrote about the growth of copper theft in the USA. Things must be bad there if crooks have resorted to pinching copper wires from fixed-line infrastructure as well as electrical substations, railroads, etc. and selling them as scrap. One would hope they don’t get their wires crossed.

The situation has become so bad in the US city of Atlanta that AT&T is reportedly offering a $3,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of local copper thieves after nearly 7,000 customers lost local phone service during a three-day stretch of thievery,according to local reports.

Yikes, who’d have thought? We used to hear stories of copper wires disappearing from telegraph poles overnight during network rollouts in developing countries but this is the USA we’re talking about!

Maybe those countries rolling out all-fiber National Broadband Networks know something only the daring copper thieves have worked out. Copper resources are becoming more scarce and its value is increasing. The Australian Government has opted to buy a large swathe of Telstra’s existing copper network but nowhere in the budget projections did I notice returns on the recovery and sale of existing copper wire.

Perhaps as the glass fiber is being laid the old copper wire could be pulled out and sold. One can only imagine how many thousand tonnes of pure copper they could recover. It would certainly make a dent in the cost of building the NBN and it’s definitely something any aspiring NBN builders might like to think about.

On the other and, if you see anyone digging at the front of your house you may want to ask what they are up to and request some ID and, if in doubt, call the ‘coppers’!