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Stealing the local loop

One of the more subtle but valid selling points for deploying wireless broadband access in Asia’s developing markets over the years has been that rolling out copper loops was pointless because thieves would steal the copper lines and sell them for scrap metal.

Turns out it’s also becoming a growing problem in the US.

According to the FBI, copper theft from fixed-line infrastructure (as well as electrical substations, railroads, water wells, construction sites, and vacant homes) has risen sharply in the last four years, with copper valued at around $3 per pound, reports Network World.

It’s gotten so bad in the US city of Atlanta that AT&T is reportedly offering a $3,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of local copper thieves after nearly 7,000 customers lost local phone service during a three-day stretch of thievery, according to local reports.

And it’s going to get worse as the global copper supply continues to tighten and demand for black-market copper rises, the FBI says.