back to article Norway has a month left until sun sets on its copper phone lines

Norway is a couple of years ahead of Britain in mothballing its century-old copper telephone network, which is due to shut down on January 1, 2023. The UK is scheduled to switch from the public switched telephone network (PSTN) to voice over IP (VoIP) by December 2025, but although it is geographically 33 percent smaller than …

  1. Mike 137 Silver badge

    The big problem

    The main issue will be that POTS is self powered but fibre/VoIP requires local power in order to function, so everyone will need a UPS and the vulnerable will need wopping great ones to keep their service operating for a reasonable time in event of local power cuts. This is an old problem -- remember "if your internet connection to us fails, please report the issue on our web portal"

    We're progressively eliminating the resilience that is increasingly required as we rely ever more on more and more converged communications just to keep the wheels of societies turning.

    1. Ball boy Silver badge

      Re: The big problem

      Already solved that one: by not investing anything like enough in the NHS, the vulnerable are saved the inconvenience of bothering to call for assistance.

      It's all part of the plan, don't you see?

      Nurse! My coat, please. Nurse? Nu...never mind, I'll get it myself.

    2. steelpillow Silver badge

      Re: The big problem

      "You don't need a UPS, Madam, you just need to keep your device charged."

      "But I'm reporting a power cut...."

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: The big problem

        Indeed. The only way my pushing-ninety mother can get a mobile signal at her house on Skye is to climb onto the roof...

        1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

          Re: The big problem

          To call the firemen to help her go down?

        2. Lars Silver badge

          Re: The big problem

          Climbing onto the roof seems to be good for your mother.

    3. Fonant

      Re: The big problem

      A small advantage of fibre/VOIP equipment, at least for home use, is that it takes 12V DC power rather than 240V AC.

      So small "battery backup" units can be used, much cheaper than UPS devices that need complex inverter electronics.

      We have two Eaton 3S Mini UPS 36W backups, one each for our fibre terminator and router. The fibre terminator lasts many hours on it, and the router several hours. Enough to cover any planned 3-hour power outages if the UK grid starts to struggle. Keeps "landline" and internet access going, if not the desktop computer.

      1. Dante Alighieri


        5 days off grid last year, but POTS kept working. Mobile network? not so much.

        Several UPS across various bits of kit. Not everything happy to run off the generator :(

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Arwen

          "5 days off grid last year, but POTS kept working. Mobile network? not so much."

          So the PSTN has bigger batteries. This sounds like a lack of batteries problem, not a what's running from the batteries problem. Unless the PSTN is significantly more power efficient than anything else (I don't know but I do know there's a bunch of power hungry equipment on it), you could solve that problem by planning more backup power for the replacements.

          1. Richard 12 Silver badge

            Re: Arwen

            PSTN is more efficient, as it draws very little until someone actually tries to make a telephone call.

            At that point it needs to power the telephone and switchgear to make the connection, then only the telephone.

            Assuming the wiring isn't shot to heck, that takes very little delivered power.

            Mobile cells need to keep broadcasting continuously, even if nobody is actively using it.

            1. Nifty Silver badge

              Re: Arwen

              "Mobile cells need to keep broadcasting continuously, even if nobody is actively using it."

              Sure about that?

              1. Kapsalon

                Re: Arwen

                Yep, your phone is in "constant" contact. Your phone is registered to a certain tower and connectivity info is exchanged. For example to do a handover to another tower.

                1. Norman Nescio Silver badge

                  Re: Arwen

                  I must admit, the question has exposed a gap in my knowledge.

                  I really don't know if mobile phone base-stations transmit continuously, or continually.

                  Evidently, when you make a phone call, or exchange data, your phone 'transmits more' - it certainly uses more power; but we know that the latest mobile phone technology uses packetised technology - specifically IP at a layer above the physical. By definition, packets are logically bounded, but whether the logical boundaries translate into physical ones is a different and interesting question.

                  If you take good old Ethernet, it is based in part on an older radio technology, called ALOHAnet. Stations transmitted willy-nilly, and at a certain traffic level collisions became a significant problem. The hub receiver had to detect the collision, and lack of an acknowledgement of a good packet meant the transmitter had to wait and try again. It wasn't very efficient, but you only transmitted whenever you wanted to send a packet. Ethernet improved on that by introducing carrier sensing, so you only attempted to send a packet if you detected the absence of a carrier signalling that another packet was in the process of being transmitted.

                  What this digression shows is that it is entirely possible to design a packet-radio protocol that does not rely on continuous transmissions. One benefit of this is reducing the power requirement of the transmitters because you don't need to be transmitting when you have no data to send. It you are not transmitting continuously, then you could be transmitting continually (e.g. with a heartbeat). It makes a great deal of sense to try and avoid needing continuous transmission. Old mobile phones were marketed with the concept of talk-time/standby-time which showed that more power was used when maintaining a call that when being quiescent and only contacting the base-station sporadically. Owners of GSM phones will remember the occasional dit-de-dit-de-dit-de-dit interference generated in nearby audio circuits when the phone briefly talked to the base-station; and could predict when a call was about to come in by the characteristic interference on susceptible audio devices which occurred during the data exchange with the base-station before the phone started ringing.

                  With more modern phones (3G, 4G, LTE, 5G), I suspect the phones themselves still do not transmit anything other than RFI continuously, but the base-stations I have no idea about - I suspect they transmit only when communication is in progress with a handset, and if there were no handsets in the vicinity, would probably, at most, transmit an occasional beacon.

                  I wonder if a radio engineer can comment?


          2. Mike Pellatt

            Re: Arwen

            The PSTN has generators as well as batteries. Certainly in the larger "exchange" buildings in urban and sub-urban areas, tho I'm not so sure about the small rural ones.

            Mobile base stations and Fibre exchanges housing OLTs and associated IP kit generally don't.... And lack of aircon on power failure can mean extended battery operation isn't viable anyway.

            The solution for most operators is driving a mobile genny to site. Not scaleable to a wide-area extended outage.

      2. that one in the corner Silver badge

        Re: The big problem

        > We have two Eaton 3S Mini UPS 36W backups....

        Very sensible.

        Nicely illustrates a big problem with the move to VOIP in all the homes: the lucky few on fora like this one at least know that we should be considering backup power; we'll even pick up hints about part numbers to look for.

        But do we really think that the kit offered to the average home owner will come with power backup as standard - or as an optional extra? Will Granny know enough to even consider the question?

        And if Granny has to go looking for an UPS herself, who'll explain the terms used (take your example: a 36W unit, but over what time period? Does it store 360Wh, enough to keep going overnight -just- or is it 1Wh and goes out after one brief shining moment?)

        1. Dave Pickles

          Re: The big problem

          Having UPS power for your DECT base station, router and fibre termination is all very well, but what about the green cabinet at the end of the road, whatever THAT connects to and so on? What power provision has been made, how long is it supposed to last and when was it last tested?

          1. Totally not a Cylon

            Re: The big problem

            2 green boxes where I'm connected, one has battery the other doesn't.

            To say the BT Tech was angry was an understatement......

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: The big problem

              The question, of course, is why was there no battery? Never installed, or some scally stole and sold it?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The big problem

        Downvote because POTS does NOT require 240V by a long shot! :)

    4. Marty McFly Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: The big problem

      Spot on technical comment of POTS vs fiber/VOIP.

      Of course, this assumes the Telco has a well maintained UPS in their phone box. I got fiber in my area about 15 years ago, but the 'last mile' is still copper. At first we had POTS for days with a weather induced power outage. Now, POTS goes down after 45 minutes. My guess is they have never changed the UPS batteries. No cell service in the area, so when POTS goes down, all comms are down. But hey, good for Centurytel to charge me an 'Infrastructure improvement fee' every month....bastards.

      The world is changing though. I have UPS devices on everything. They handle the load long enough to get the generator fired up and hit the transfer switch. Starlink runs just fine off generator power. So that is my fail-over when POTS goes down.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The big problem

        My company has major POP sites lose power, and we discover then that both the UPS and generator is defective. When it happens it affects thousands of customers paying millions a month for service, and it happens about 6-8 times a year. Once commercial service restores, or the generator tech rebuilds the carburetor on the generator, replacement kit is brought in after doing the whole cheapest supplier search. This should tell you how well UPS systems in little green boxes scattered around the neighborhood will be maintained. It'll only be a crisis when commercial power is down, and once commercial power is restored the crisis will be over. So, it'll work great till the first set of batteries goes.

        Anon, because I'm not retired yet.

        1. Nifty Silver badge

          Re: The big problem

          "rebuilds the carburetor on the generator"

          Exactly how old are these generators?

          1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

            Re: The big problem

            they were hand-built by a Rudolph Diesel

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: The big problem

              with a carburettor?

          2. The Unexpected Bill

            Re: The big problem

            Probably not all that old -- a lot of "small engines" are still carbureted to this very day. Only a few have electronic or mechanical fuel injection systems. Even those that run on propane or natural gas will likely still have a carburetor and a fairly large generator can still use what would be considered a small engine.

            As best I'm aware, all Diesel engines are implicitly fuel injected.

            Fine print: my perspective is one of how things are done in the United States, because that's where I am. Perhaps other parts of the world are doing things differently.

        2. Mike Pellatt

          Re: The big problem

          First rule of any backup system - be it for your power or your data - have a routine testing schedule. Otherwise you deserve what you get. Which, let alone anything else, is that the money you spent on the backup system was wasted.

    5. cornetman Silver badge

      Re: The big problem

      Hopefully the move towards more decentralised power generation will help somewhat with the dangers of that.

      One of my hopes for the trend towards more renewable sources of power is that our power systems would get much more resilient on the long term.

      With many remote people getting solar panels and local storage that can only help this dilemma somewhat.

      1. LybsterRoy Silver badge

        Re: The big problem

        Thank you - I needed a good laugh on this damp and dreary morning.

        1. cornetman Silver badge

          Re: The big problem

          > Thank you - I needed a good laugh on this damp and dreary morning.

          Not sure why you think that is funny. I was deadly serious.

          Around where I used to live, there are solar panels on the roof of many of the private dwellings buildings, and I'm not talking about the rich here. Power is becoming highly diverse. Our in-laws had them fitted and they fed back into the grid. Many, many of those people have storage.

          I hope to see a day soon when power generation is immensely decentralised and I don't think it is all that far away. We need large generators for industry and commerce and homes are likely to become much less dependent on that kind of centralised generation. It will make for an extremely resilient grid also.

      2. Alf Garnett

        Re: The big problem

        By renewable sources, I'll assume you mean solar panels, and windmills. As far as I know, the renewables aren't so reliable. Solar only works during the day when it isn't cloudy. Windmills only work when the wind is blowing. Ways to produce power that don't pollute are a good thing, but other means need to be kept available for times when the renewables fail, such as at night when the wind isn't blowing.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: The big problem

          Solar works during the day when it is cloudy or when it is not cloudy. Solar plus battery works all the time.

          1. Martin an gof Silver badge

            Re: The big problem

            Solar plus battery works all the time.

            Depends on your panel output, storage capacity and load.

            I have a very simple system here to run a water pump. Pump runs intermittently, and only ever for 15 - 30s a time (it pumps water to toilets) but uses perhaps 150W when running. It is powered at 24V from a pair of 12V 17Ah batteries which are in turn charged from four 12V 30W solar panels in series-parallel. It's fine most of the time, and if the batteries are reasonably fully charged it can power the pump for two or three days...

            ...but we've just had three or four weeks of essentially cloudy weather (South Wales, and at this time of the year the sun only illuminates the panels between perhaps 10am and 4pm), and generation has been minimal to say the least. Having not used battery for the last three days, there is enough charge in them now to run the pump for perhaps half a day.

            My solar evacuated tubes for hot water have registered a single-digit number of hours running during November (the pump turns on when the manifold temperature is 10C above the temperature in storage).

            There is still a need for centralised distribution and balancing or else this sort of thing is going to happen to individual houses, so my reaction to cornetman who said:

            when power generation is immensely decentralised... It will make for an extremely resilient grid also.
            is to remind them of what happened a couple of summers ago when there were power disconnections in the East of England caused in no small part by lots of "embedded generation" disconnecting itself from the grid autonomously. While the root cause was two generating plants (one combined cycle gas station and one huge wind farm) going offline following a lightning strike - it was later found the wind farm should have stayed connected, but an error in the software running the protection systems tripped the protection to sensitively - the backup generation in place could have stabilised the grid sufficiently, were it not for the additional loss of about 500MW (they don't know for sure, because "reasons") of embedded generation*.

            Thinking about it from a "control systems" point of view, co-ordinating hundreds of thousands of "mini generators" in real time across the National Grid and local supply grids is an extremely complex problem, and I'd say that certainly in the early days it is much more likely to make the grid less stable, than more.


            *of course that's not actually the order in which things happened. The windfarm, the steam generator, one gas generator and the embedded generation all went off within the first second following the lightning strike. At this point, things might have stabilised as backup generation was brought in, at a low but above "panic" levels grid frequency. The second gas generator was shut off manually after a couple of minutes because of a mechanical failure and this gave rise to the frequency excursion below levels where loads began to disconnect. My point is that if the embedded generation had not disconnected, this second gas generator going offline wouldn't have been such a big problem. There are a lot of "ifs" in the whole story, and I discussed them in these hallowed halls at the time. I might look up the thread if I have time later.

            1. Martin an gof Silver badge

              Re: The big problem

              I might look up the thread if I have time later.

              Here's my post about the interim report. Since then, the full report has come out with a few more details and my first reaction to that is here.


              1. cornetman Silver badge

                Re: The big problem

                Interesting analysis.

                I should point that my original comment was not so much about homes' solar arrays feeding back into the grid during an outage. More that during normal times, homes taking less from the grid and having the ability to supply themselves during outages.

                Clearly, it is not practical for people to try to supply their 100s of neighbours from local battery storage.

            2. werdsmith Silver badge

              Re: The big problem

              Depends on your panel output, storage capacity and load.

              Does this even need saying? Stating the obvious.

              My only point was to correct the comment that suggested PV panels don’t work when it’s cloudy.

              1. Martin an gof Silver badge

                Re: The big problem

                Very long time after the fact, but loose ends :-)

                Your statement was a bit "definite" for my liking. "Solar works during the day... Solar plus battery works all the time".

                Actually there are two things there I'd take issue with. Cloudy days have a huge effect on solar panel output. Quite right, they still "work", but their output can be less than 20% of their output when there are no clouds. And if the intention with batteries (or other forms of storage) is to allow power "production" when the panels are not working, then you need not only big batteries, but enlarged solar panels in order to charge those batteries.

                That was what I was trying to illustrate with my tiny little battery pump example. Domestically, you'd be looking at a heck of a lot of batteries to ride out sunless days and something I often refer to is that those greenest of green types, the people at the Centre for Alternative Technology actually removed their batteries some years ago once they calculated that it was not only cheaper, but less damaging to the environment to use the national grid as if it were a giant battery; until then the centre had been completely off-grid. The architects Robert and Brenda Vale made the same decision for their New Autonomous House project. Granted, both removed (or never installed) Lead-acid batteries rather than Lithium, but as far as I'm aware, CAT isn't currently planning to re-install batteries in a big way. This article might explain why.

                The broader point is that in order to make renewables as "reliable" as traditional generation (which is where the discussion started) you need sufficient storage in order to take account of the days when there is little sun and/or no wind and to vastly over-provision on the renewables, in order to fully charge that storage when there is sun and wind.

                I'm not saying it can't be done - though it's probably quite difficult to do in a country the size of the UK - but that when you start looking at the numbers, it gets quite scary and diversity of supply becomes very attractive.

                Let's imagine you are provisioning to replace a 1GW "traditional" power station (fossils or nuclear) with entirely renewable sources. First you need to decide how much storage you need, so let's say a week's worth; that's 1GW × 24h × 7 days = 168GWh. Consider the fact that in September 2021 (sorry, couldn't find more recent figures in a hurry) the UK's largest single battery storage project was capable of just 198MWh (that is only around one tenth of one percent of my figure) at a rate of 99MW (10% of the output required) and you begin to see the scale of the problem.

                The biggest (by far - so far) pumped storage station in the UK is Dinorwig. It can more than meet the output necessary (it's capable of 1.7GW) but even it can only store around 9GWh so we'd need some 19 Dinorwigs to allow for that windless, sunless week.

                There are other technologies which might be better, and tidal power is the obvious example. Tides never fail, but even they have slack periods as the tide turns, even so, I cannot understand why more effort isn't being put in to developing Britain's tidal resources.


  2. Fonant

    Here's the official rules for national power rationing if the Grid is overloaded:

    Check your electricity bill to find out which Load Block letter area you're in, and so when your power would be turned off.

    1. Crypto Monad Silver badge

      Thanks. Let's hope we don't get to level 17.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Now that pesky EU restrictions are removed, the govt will be able to go to level 20 or even further!

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Just long as the skip past ELEVEN!!!!

      2. David Hicklin Bronze badge

        > Let's hope we don't get to level 17.

        15 is bad enough - just one 3 hour on period each day, which also says that 7/8th of the grid capacity has been squashed

        1. Mike Pellatt

          Pretty much the situation in Ukraine at the moment, AIUI.

  3. martinusher Silver badge

    Ooesn't work very well

    VoIP technology works in theory buy our experience with it over the last decade or so in the US suggests it is useless. Most calls are poor audio quality, many get dropped or never connect and the system goes off line if the power drops. The best that can be said is that it 'kinda works' most of the time, a level of service that would have been unthinkable nearly a century ago. Its not really the technology that's a problem but the providers (....and in case you haven't noticed things aren't that cheap either, its disguised because of the other services that get bundled with the phone line).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ooesn't work very well

      Your entire comment could be applied to the mobile network in the UK: I have never understood why people are prepared to put up with what is such a pathetic service compared with the century old PSTN network. Fro my experiences VOIP problems usually come down to an underlying connectivity issue that may have not been noticeable just browsing websites.

      1. martinusher Silver badge

        Re: Ooesn't work very well

        The tragedy is that I wasn't even thinking of mobile networks -- they have their own hit and miss issues. Our copper infrastructure has been replaced by either cable or fiber -- we've had both (switched from one to another due to escalating cost issues) -- and the quality of the legacy landline originating from the router/modem took an immediate and irrecoverable nosedive.

        A less significant issue with legacy POTS through VoIP here (LA) is that all connectivity seems to be going through a single facility in what we call the Inland Empire. This is at the east of the LA basin, its where warehouses and other land hungry facilities are paving over large areas of land because its relatively cheap. It also parks our critical infrastructure right next to (if not right on top of) the San Andreas fault.

      2. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Ooesn't work very well

        I don’t really recognise either description, I use voip for work every day and it performs consistently, often I wish it wouldn’t. I use mobile phone every day and it performs consistently. The only time I’ve had a problem is at a big event where there is a large crowd and the cells can’t cope, and this is likely because I use 2nd tier MVNO.

  4. Peter Prof Fox

    Uxbridge English Dictionary

    Plummer Even more plumish.

    Perhaps the writer meant plumber; from the latin for 'new depths of illiteracy'.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

    This should work out just fine. Ditch the copper for systems that require local power to operate, ban fossil fuels. That's one way to eliminate emergencies, if nobody has power nobody can report them unless they happened to have installed thousands of #localcurrency worth of batteries and sunshine/unicorn fart aggregators. Not that it'll matter when none of the equipment in the middle is getting power.

    1. Lars Silver badge

      @M.V. Lipvig

      Just now Norway get its electricity from 92.3% hydro power, 6.8% from wind power and 0.9% from thermal power.

      And of that they export 25% plus of course oil and gas.

      Not much to ban anymore, and banning the export of gas and oil will not make friends, I think.

      1. Stork Silver badge

        Unfortunately it was a dry year and the backup capacity are thermal stations in Denmark now running on - gas

        1. Norman Nescio Silver badge

          Over-simple analysis

          That's a little too simplistic.

          From memory, Norway has interconnectors with the UK, Germany, Denmark and Sweden (there are others*), and power flows either way, depending on pricing. For example, the interconnect with the UK has been sending about a Gigawatt of power to the UK for most of the past month, with occasional periods of it going the other way when it's been very windy in the UK. Similarly, power goes each way to and from Denmark - the Norwegian reservoirs are right now at the same fill-level as the average for the last 20 years**, as a wet autumn has made up for a dry summer - so the power flow is determined by the price. If it is windy in Denmark when not so windy in Norway, power will go from Denmark to Norway, because excess wind-generated power is remarkably cheap; sometimes even negative in price. Norway often tops up with (partially nuclear generated***) power from Sweden, but recently, there's been significant export of power from the north of Norway to Sweden because of an annual event, which is the freezing over of the northern Swedish rivers. While the freezing goes on, they have to decrease hydro-electric production until a thick-enough layer of ice has formed, after which they can continue to abstract water from under the ice to generate power at full rate.

          The main conclusion is that power flows are complicated****, driven by price, and Norway has adequate hydro-electric reserves for the winter. The power companies are making a vast amount of money because market the price is driven up by problems elsewhere in the region covered by the market. Hydro is reliable and quickly dispatchable, so commands a price-premium to fill in the gaps when the wind doesn't blow and the sun doesn't shine, so it makes a huge amount of sense for the power companies to preserve their stocks and import cheaper electricity from elsewhere and fill in the gaps with hydro as necessary, getting a high price when they do.

          The interconnectors also enable odd things, like Sweden providing power to the UK, even though there is no direct connection: power goes into Norway from Sweden at the same time as power goes from Norway to the UK - the balance can net out to zero for Norway, so the net effect is export from Sweden to the UK: so if you look at a single interconnector, you can get an incorrect view of what it actually going on. The same can go on with other interconnects. I expect similar things happen with the UK interconnects.*****

          The interconnectors are unpopular with the Norwegian public, as they are seen as enabling the power companies to make vast amounts of money selling Norwegian electricity to other countries at high prices to cover gaps in the other countries' generating capacity: this translates into the Norwegian consumers having to pay the same high prices for their electricity as the foreign customers, which comes as a shock, as historically, electricity prices in Norway have been low compared to other places.

          * 9 to/from Sweden totalling roughly 3200-3600 MW, 1 by 50 MW from Russia, 1 by 70-120 MW to/from Finland, 4 to Denmark totalling 1632 MW, 1 by 700 MW to/from the Netherlands, 1 by 1400 MW to/from Germany, 1 by 1400 MW to/from the UK.

          **Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE): Reservoir statistics

          ***The Swedish Ringhals 4 plant had a mishap under maintenance last year, and repairs take a while so it is not expected to restart until 23rd February. Not a good time to lose it.

          ****Nord Pool Market Data and Norway's Statnett

          *****Gridwatch: Interconnectors

          1. Lars Silver badge

            Re: Over-simple analysis

            Many details of course and I would add a few regarding Finland.

            Wind is down not due to no wind but also because the windmills are frozen and covered with ice, and you cannot use them then.

            Olkiluoto3 the fifth and newest and biggest nuclear power reactor in Europe is down due to unexpected water pump problems and for at least a month apparently.

            The Finnish grid you find here:


            And I add the French because it's so well made.


  6. Norman Nescio Silver badge

    Universal service obligation

    In the past, when essential infrastructure was being rolled out by state organisations, there was an idea called 'universal service obligation' (USO), which is to say, the service provider was obligated to provide a service at a standard cost, even to difficult to access places. The excess costs to get to some places were subsidised by increasing the price to service the easy to access places.

    These days, with the advent of competition, the USO has been dropped, so competing providers obviously roll out to the cheapest places to access, forgetting about everywhere else. This gives lower prices (or higher profits for the provider, or a combination of the two) to those who live in the easy to access places, and leaves no pot of money to subsidise delivery of service to the more difficult places.

    I'm rather surprised that the the Norwegian state didn't pick up on this and impose a USO requirement - to my mind anywhere that has, or had a copper POTS phone should automatically get a fibre connection with no argument. Apparently this is too difficult, so we get oddities like the EU celebrating a forested rural (it's not that remote) Norwegian community getting fibre via Sweden, going across a lake-bottom in the process.

    As for the UK, the problems of getting decent fibre connectivity to rural areas are well known. Using OpenReach wayleaves to put fibre everywhere would have been pocket-lint (not even change) compared to the sums spent rescuing the banks in the financial crisis, paying furlough during Covid, or paying energy bills now, with huge economic gains. Farmers need decent connectivity, as does working from home.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Universal service obligation

      wasn't there a UK PM with a motto "screw business"?

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Universal service obligation

      My Google-fu led me to this PDF which explains handwavy USO in Norway (chapter 5) but I'm trying not to think too much about USO telephone connections via fibre without broadband.

      1. Norman Nescio Silver badge

        Re: Universal service obligation

        Thanks for that.

        A quick look through shows no minimum throughput for data services, just the vague 'access'. On that basis, a manky old GSM data service would meet the USO, but wouldn't exactly be broadband.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Universal service obligation

      "to my mind anywhere that has, or had a copper POTS phone should automatically get a fibre connection with no argument. Apparently this is too difficult,"

      Which is rather odd considering that if there are copper wires already there, why is it a problem gaining access to replace them with fibre? (Yeah, I know, "street" boxes and power, but still, the routes are already in place)

      1. Lars Silver badge

        Re: Universal service obligation

        "if there are copper wires already there,"

        Perhaps I don't get it, but if they use poles and they don't want to use them but dig down the fibre.

        1. Mike Pellatt

          Re: Universal service obligation

          Or - as I've recently discovered - the POTS copper is direct-in-ground buried, not even in ducting. There are whole estates like this, with chambers and a little bit of ducting to fool you.

          No use at all for getting fibre to the home.

  7. druck Silver badge


    although [the UK] is geographically 33 percent smaller than Norway

    What an arse backwards way of saying it. Either "Norway is 33% larger than the UK" or "the UK is 75% of the size of Norway" is far easier to visualise.

    1. Norman Nescio Silver badge

      Re: Proportions

      According to the fount of unreliable knowledge:

      Country.....................................Area..........Population density

      Norway (not including Svalbard & Jan Mayen) 323,787 km2... 17 km-2

      UK......................................... 242,495 km2...277 km-2

      Which makes the UK 74.9% the size of Norway, but with a population density just over 16 times (1530%) greater. I suspect the population density influences the economics of fibre roll-out.

    2. FirstTangoInParis Bronze badge

      Re: Proportions

      Tsk. Please can we use the correct units?

      Norway = 18.54 * Wales.

      UK = 11.725 * Wales.

  8. jonfr

    Iceland closed down its PSTN network on 1. November 2022

    Best I can see Síminn shut off its last PSTN stations in Iceland on 1st November 2022 (it takes them about 1 month to turn off all the stations). I don't think many are going to notice since most people in Iceland have moved to mobile only communication and most people don't have landline phone of any type. There are exceptions in Iceland because of lack of mobile signal but that is changing as VoWiFi is starting to get used in Iceland with the mobile phone companies. Allowing mobile calls in areas without any mobile signal.

  9. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge


    "NRK has reported on locations like Kråkenes in Kinn municipality where residents can only get signal in a very specific part of their homes due to the mountainous terrain, and yet landlines have already been shut off with no promise yet of a fiber connection forthcoming."

    So why don't telenor stick a repeater or cellular amplifier up on the roof or whatever part of the house gets a signal, and let that cover the house? The problem to me is areas where they can go throughout the house and get no signal -- there's valleys in SW Wisconsin where the entire valley is convered, including of course the houses in those valleys. Compared to that, this to me seems like this has an easier solution for those households.

  10. Alf Garnett

    About 25 years ago I lived in a community where a storm came through one evening and took down about 2 miles of power lines, the big ones on the tall wooden poles next to the highway. The power company had the power back on the next afternoon. that morning I drove by the building that held the phone company's switching equipment. They had a generator on a trailer that they had parked next to the building. The phones never quit working. New technology is a great thing, but is it really a good idea to abandon something that's very reliable for something that has more to go wrong with it? Going to mobile or IP for phone service means a lot more equipment that needs power to work when the grid goes down.

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