Network

TIM abandons the copper network and starts decommissioning the exchanges: what this means

TIM abandons the copper network and starts decommissioning the exchanges: what it means

On a fresh note, TIM confirms that from tomorrow 25 May 2024 the decommissioning of power plants held by the former monopolist. The objective is to start a process of abandoning the historic copper network to migrate the entire customer base to ultra-broadband connections by 2028.

We start with 62 TIM exchanges located in 54 municipalities distributed across 11 regions: Basilicata, Campania, Calabria, Emilia-Romagna, Lazio, Lombardy, Molise, Puglia, Sicily, Tuscany and Veneto. The switch off involves the progressive “shutting down” of over 6,700 power plants, out of a total of approximately 10,500 existing ones.

TIM observes that the customer migration towards ultra-broadband connections will allow a significant improvement in performance and quality of service, with significant benefits also in terms of environmental impact. It is estimated, in fact, that the decommissioning of the copper power plants, which will also involve the simultaneous shutdown of all the equipment linked to the traditional services present in the other power plants connected to them, will allow, once fully operational, a reduction of energy consumption of approximately 450 thousand MWh and lower CO emissions2.

Because TIM abandons the old exchanges and the copper network

TIM is abandoning the copper network for several reasons. First of all, there is a problem of technological obsolescence. The provision of classic-based data links twisted pair telephone does not go hand in hand with the needs for increasingly stable connections and ultrabroadband. The distance from the exchange significantly influences the quality of service, increasing attenuation and reducing the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR).

Who has used connections over time ADSLknows well how much these parameters affect the bandwidth actually available for download and upload, as well as on the reliability of the data connection.

A few words on the characteristics of FTTx networks

With the advent of connections FTTC (Fiber-to-the-Cabinet), TIM and other telecommunications operators have embraced a hybrid solution which involves the use of fiber optic cable up to street cabinets. From there on we continue with the twisted pair cable, to reach the subscriber’s user base to be served: speaking of FTTx, we have seen the differences between the various fiber connections. The improvement is tangible because the Apparati DSLAM they are no longer located in the exchange but are installed on the street cabinet, at a shorter distance.

However, there is always the phenomenon of diaphoniacorrelated to the presence of other signals on the copper pairs that make up the same cable and deriving from the activity of other subscribers.

In the case of FTTH (Fiber-to-the-Home), the fiber cable reaches the optical hub installed at the user’s premises, the most downstream point in a network FTTH.

If in the case of xDSL connections the performance is strongly linked to attenuation, SNR and crosstalk, when the network is completely fiber optic, these problems are completely overcome. Just think, for example, that if an old ADSL on a copper network attenuates 60 dB on a 5 kilometer connection (maximum limit for service provision), in the case of FTTH a cable of the same length does not attenuate more than 1 dB. The signal is therefore reliable and always well manageable.

The farewell to the copper network will however be partial

An operator like TIM has every interest to dismiss the traditional ones telephone exchanges. Copper infrastructure is older and more expensive to maintain than new fiber networks. The same buildings used as power plants involve considerable costs.

The European Union is pushing for the phase-out of old copper networks in favor of the widespread adoption of new generation networks in optic fiber. However, switching off the exchanges does not lead, as we have seen previously, to an automatic switch to FTTH.

The FTTC connection method will therefore continue to be widely used in the future, although the objective is to progressively modernize the network, removing the twisted pair cable also from the secondary network.

What is the decomissioning

In the context of telecommunications, the decommissioning refers to the set of activities and projects aimed at decommissioning and switching off old, now obsolete network technologies. In general, the technical documentation signed by TIM has long mentioned the technological platforms to be set aside: PSTN, ISDN, ATM, ADSL, PDH, SDH. These are solutions still used today to provide traditional services such as switched voice and narrowband data access.

Customers using technologies legacy they are assisted in the transition to more modern solutions and, in any case, they are first moved to a minimum number of devices, and then move on to the definitive one shutdown of services.

Il decommissioning allows TIM to make the network more efficient, recovering space, reducing energy consumption and maintenance costs. All following thetechnological evolution and changing customer needs.

TIM has also started a virtuous path of recovery and valorisation of discarded materials, which can be recycled as secondary raw materials or resold on the “grey” market of used equipment. Furthermore, i copper cables no longer necessary they are removed and given to specialized companies for the recovery of the metal.

Adaptation interventions approved by AGCOM

The interventions which will begin tomorrow across a large part of the national territory by TIM technicians have been approved by AGCOM (Communications Regulatory Authority) as part of the broader general technological renewal plan.

We are embarking on an important phase of transformation of our access network“, he has declared Elisabetta RomanoChief Network Operations & Wholesale Officer di TIM. “The migration from the access services offered on the copper network to those available on the new generation network marks the start of the switch off process, which will affect over 60% of our exchanges present in the territory, located mainly in peripheral areas or municipalities of small size. In order to decommission such a large number of exchanges, constant commitment to the creation of networks that use optical fiber in whole or in part and to the innovation of obsolete technological platforms becomes essential. We are working to accelerate the process and create the conditions to shut down a significant number of power plants over the next two years“.

Already in recent months, TIM has sent specific information to all the municipal administrations in whose territories the exchanges affected by the initiative fall, also organizing specific in-depth meetings.

Opening image credit: iStock.com – kynny

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