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Copper Wires Are Worthless

Markets have a way of figuring these things out, and adjusting accordingly. The value of your stock is the last price paid for a share. The value of your house is based on the price of the last house around you that sold. Location, location, location.

Copper, in terms of telecommunications, is not a place you want to be now. It's Detroit. The only value it has is as a monopoly connection between captive customers and fast Internet resources, and even that value is disappearing. My family has had only wireless phones for several years, and the only reason we have cable is for the fast Internet. But if our wireless carrier could offer a competitive price....

Now, what happens to the value of companies like AT&T (T - Get Report), CenturyLink (CTL - Get Report), and even Time Warner Cable (TWC - Get Report), as this realization that "copper is worthless" hits home, as the dust settles from Verizon-Vodafone?

Copper has been regulated by the federal government as a monopoly -- guaranteeing a return on capital -- for more than a century. It costs money to maintain a neighborhood's copper phone lines, and the need for "universal service" keeps copper alive, through subsidies.

What happens to those policies once copper is deemed obsolete?

Ever since I became a reporter, and for many decades before, our telecommunications has been based on the dance between Washington and New York, an assumption of scarcity and a need for capital investment, to keep our wired networks going.

There are billions of dollars to be made in engineering the government transition away from copper, and in dealing with the obsolete copper infrastructure. That game is now afoot.

At the time of publication the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and a tech reporter since 1982. His specialty has been getting to the future ahead of the crowd, then leaving before success arrived. That meant covering the Internet in 1985, e-commerce in 1994, the Internet of Things in 2005, open source in 2005 and, since 2010, renewable energy. He has written for every medium from newspapers and magazines to Web sites, from books to blogs. He still seeks tomorrow from his Craftsman home in Atlanta.
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CTL $36.41 0.00%
T $34.01 0.00%
TWC $155.26 0.00%
VOD $35.20 0.00%
VZ $50.03 0.00%


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