On July 9, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) posted an investigative article regarding the potential dangers of lead-clad telecommunications cabling. Not surprisingly, this is stirring concerns among both telecom providers and the public. Shortly after the WSJ story broke, I was briefed on the issue by USTelecom, a broadband industry consortium, and now I want to weigh in with my own insights.

Lead-clad cabling’s history

Lead-clad telecom cabling has been around for a long time. Its initial installation can be traced back to the 1880s when the U.S. was building out its telegraph and then telephone infrastructure. Unfortunately, during that time any documentation of these installations was on paper records, often handwritten, that could decay or be misplaced over the decades. Nearly 150 years have passed since the earliest installations, with ownership of the cabling typically changing hands multiple times along the way.

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