When Should High-End Communication Equipment be Retired?

A point comes, soon or later, when high-end communication equipment has to be retired. In this context, ‘retiring’ the equipment simply refers to removing the equipment from use. It is, however, not always easy to figure out when exactly the high-end communication equipment should be retired. In fact, in organizations where high-end communication equipment is used this question (on when specific pieces of equipment should be retired) often leads to very heated debates.

In my view, there are 3 situations where it may be justifiable to retire high-end communications equipment:

  1. If the equipment has become obsolete: technology is dynamic. It is possible for equipment that is considered ‘high-end’ today to have become obsolete in just a few years. Now when the equipment becomes obsolete, it makes no sense to continue using it. Continuing to use obsolete equipment is likely to lead to loss of competitive advantage. Therefore the best thing to do, when communication equipment becomes obsolete, is to retire it.
  2. If the investment in the equipment has been recouped: once the investment that was made in the high-end communication equipment has been recouped (with some profit on top), then the equipment can be retired. The high-end communication equipment is an investment. It is made with the intention of making a profit. Once the profit has been made, the equipment will have served its purpose, and it can be retired.
  3. If new, better functioning equipment has become available: so this may be a case where the older equipment has not really become obsolete. But better functioning equipment is nonetheless available in the market, meaning that it wouldn’t make much sense to continue holding onto the old equipment whose performance may not be optimal. To use an analogy, it is like if you were previously using a credit card from a lender who offered less than ideal terms. Then, at some point, you are invited to apply for a better card from Capital One: that is, to get my offer at capitalone.com. In that case, would it make sense to continue using the old, less-than-ideal credit card, yet you have access to the better Capital One credit card offer? It is the same with high-end communication equipment – once better functioning equipment becomes available, the old (less-than-ideal) communication equipment can be retired.