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Future of Telephone Poles?

gavine

Petrol Head turned EV Enthusiast
Apr 1, 2014
2,606
2,137
Philadelphia, PA
Is it crazy to think that telephone poles will be a thing of that past some day? Between solar with batteries for off-grid electricity and StarLink, the need for lines will go-away, right? How nice would it be to get rid of all of those ugly wires and poles? Looking forward to that day.
 

mongo

Well-Known Member
May 3, 2017
13,308
40,718
Michigan
Is it crazy to think that telephone poles will be a thing of that past some day? Between solar with batteries for off-grid electricity and StarLink, the need for lines will go-away, right? How nice would it be to get rid of all of those ugly wires and poles? Looking forward to that day.

Developing countries are skipping the hardwired infrastructure stage, but I don't see areas with existing pole based infrastructure (phone lines, cable, power) going away. A distributed grid is more reliable than individual islands and multiple copper/ fiber lines carry more data than wireless.
 

RDoc

S85D
Aug 24, 2012
2,753
1,612
Boston North Shore
Many areas in Europe have also buried their cabling, but at least so far the US generally hasn't because of cost.

Solar plus batteries isn't going to be a 24/365 power source for quite awhile if ever in most area of the country. When it's overcast and rainy for 3 or 4 days running, I still would like to have power.
 

ItsNotAboutTheMoney

Well-Known Member
Jul 12, 2012
10,773
7,990
Maine
Is it crazy to think that telephone poles will be a thing of that past some day? Between solar with batteries for off-grid electricity and StarLink, the need for lines will go-away, right? How nice would it be to get rid of all of those ugly wires and poles? Looking forward to that day.

Wouldn't be going away, just would require higher population density to see them.
 

SpiceWare

Member
Sep 5, 2015
824
1,059
Fresno, Texas
Many areas in Europe have also buried their cabling, but at least so far the US generally hasn't because of cost.

Wonder if one of the differences is because in Europe took advantage of having to rebuild after the war while we didn't need to.

In all the neighborhoods around me which started being built in the 80s and 90s*, everything's underground, while older neighborhoods like where my folks live have everything above ground.



*I'm in Fresno, which had a population of 120 in 1970. It started to grow due to Houston's growth (we're 20 miles from downtown) to 19,069 as of the census in 2010. My home was built in 1999.
 

mongo

Well-Known Member
May 3, 2017
13,308
40,718
Michigan
Wonder if one of the differences is because in Europe took advantage of having to rebuild after the war while we didn't need to.

In all the neighborhoods around me which started being built in the 80s and 90s*, everything's underground, while older neighborhoods like where my folks live have everything above ground.



*I'm in Fresno, which had a population of 120 in 1970. It started to grow due to Houston's growth (we're 20 miles from downtown) to 19,069 as of the census in 2010. My home was built in 1999.

If it's a new development that is running gas, sewer. and water mains anyway, the cost for electrical distribution underground may be less than overheard with poles. Retrofitting electric is much more intensive and costly.
 

gavine

Petrol Head turned EV Enthusiast
Apr 1, 2014
2,606
2,137
Philadelphia, PA
Many areas in Europe have also buried their cabling, but at least so far the US generally hasn't because of cost.

Solar plus batteries isn't going to be a 24/365 power source for quite awhile if ever in most area of the country. When it's overcast and rainy for 3 or 4 days running, I still would like to have power.

But, when batteries get cheap enough and you can get 200kWh of storage at a reasonable cost, people will certainly go off-grid. And, by then, grid power will have gotten more and more expensive making storage even more desirable. I have to think at some point, grid power will be a thing of the past.
 

nwdiver

Well-Known Member
Feb 17, 2013
8,286
10,955
United States
I think the grid is extremely useful infrastructure. Not everyone is ideal situated for solar and nighttime wind will likely always be cheaper than storage. Unfortunately Utility greed and stupidity is working overtime to destroy its viability....
 

daniel

Well-Known Member
May 7, 2009
5,013
3,834
Kihei, HI
But, when batteries get cheap enough and you can get 200kWh of storage at a reasonable cost, people will certainly go off-grid. And, by then, grid power will have gotten more and more expensive making storage even more desirable. I have to think at some point, grid power will be a thing of the past.

In areas of high population density, individual-house solar will not likely be possible. I predict a future where all practical rooftops will have solar, but a lot of power will also come from wind farms and solar farms, and be distributed through a grid. If you have a single-family home, you'll make all your own electricity, but it still might be cost-effective to be grid-tied rather than cut off. Feed the grid in the daytime, get it back at night.
 

bxr140

Active Member
Nov 18, 2014
2,963
4,545
Bay Area
Between solar with batteries for off-grid electricity and StarLink, the need for lines will go-away, right?

It’s a little more complicated than that. If you’re strictly talking what we know as telephone lines and telephone poles, yes, they will be obsolete at some point.

However, physics and economics will always result in terrestrial solutions, at least in densely populated areas. Starlink (and others) will push that boundary farther into populated areas, but it’s always going to be somewhere between the sticks and the burbs, not the burbs and the city. It’s simply a matter of how much less it costs to bolt comms equipment to the top of a tower/building/etc vs bolting comms equipment on the top of a rocket.

One thing that will be interesting in he future is how data transmission will be split between hardline and OTA. The former will always have numbers over the later, but clearly at the consumer level at least, LTE (and soon 5G) has proven more than capable for the vast majority of use cases.
 
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