Perhaps you know people who no longer have a landline in their home; that is to say when making phone calls they only use wireless networks, not the old system. This is happening more and more, because people would rather choose mobile technology over wired phone lines. Because of this AT&T realizes that these land lines cost too much to maintain and they are getting old, and that infrastructure is getting less reliable than it has been in the past. It’s no longer profitable with fewer people each year using them. They would like to get out of that business, and they’re hoping that they can lobby the government to let them off the hook, literally.
There was an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal on November 8, 2012 titled; “AT&T Move Signals End of the Copper-Wire Era,” by Anton Troianovski which stated; “AT&T Inc. is laying the groundwork to phase out its old fashioned telephone service,” and “AT&T’s copper-line phone network covers 76 million homes and businesses in the US.”
Now then, can you imagine how much copper is in the ground and on telephone poles? That’s a lot of money in copper commodities. Perhaps you’ve had trouble in your area, as we have here, where people are stealing copper pipes so they can take to recycle yard to make money. Right now copper commodity prices have stabilized, but if AT&T plays her cards right they could dig up those old copper lines as needed, and use that money to fund the next generation of 4G wireless. If they do, it could be beneficial to all, and completely change the game while upgrading American communication.
Although AT&T probably knows how much money they have in copper communication lines, that number is constantly fluctuating due to market price. As the economy recovers, perhaps in 2015 and 2016 all that copper could be worth a fortune, so in essence AT&T is sitting on a gold mine; albeit a copper one. In many countries, especially emerging nations they don’t have copper phone lines because they are going directly to wireless, they are skipping that old generation of phone line technology.
One might have to ask; what happens when AT&T starts selling all that copper on the open market? Due to supply and demand they will have ever-increasing supply and as they dump that onto the market it will lower the copper commodity price. It could be significantly lowered in fact, and that’s something we should look for if Congress is willing to change the rules and allow AT&T off the hook. It might also be good for investors who might like to invest in AT&T in the future. Please consider all this and think on it.