Homes in broadband trial

KAT PICKFORD
Last updated 13:46 18/02/2013
Lee Fletcher
Final tweaks: Chorus contractors, including trainee fibre technician Lee Fletcher, are connecting some test homes to the new ultrafast broadband network in Blenheim.

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Internet service providers are trialling the new ultrafast broadband network by connecting some homes in Blenheim.

The network is part of the $1.35 billion national project to deliver ultra fast internet services to three-quarters of New Zealanders by 2019.

More than 3000 Blenheim homes and businesses in central Blenheim and the northern area of Springlands have the fibre-optic cable running past their gate.

Connection is free for houses and businesses within 15 metres of the cable. Charges for houses further back from the cable would be set by telecommunications providers, although it could be free if the customer signs up for a certain time.

People with the cable running past their property need to organise connection with a telecommunications provider.

In Blenheim, these providers include Inspire Net, Snap and thepacific.net, which also delivers ultrafast services through Network Tasman.

The service provider will contact Chorus to make the last connection either by stringing the fibre-optic cable from an existing street pole, through an existing underground duct, or through a new underground duct.

The fibre is finally connected to a box on the outside of the building where the fibre network is joined to the internal wiring.

The telecommunications provider makes the final connection to a modem within the building.

The second phase of the rollout to the rest of Springlands and parts of Mayfield and Burleigh is expected to be finished by July.

The western areas of Redwoodtown and Riversdale, and the southern end of Springlands are scheduled to have access to the ultrafast service by June 2014. The remaining areas will be connected by June 2019.

For more information or to find out when fibre-optic cable will be outside your property, follow the link 

UFB on powerpoles an option


Chorus is considering stringing more of the ultrafast broadband network up on power poles rather than burying fibre cables underground, sparking fears the flagship government scheme will be done "on the cheap".

The move would be a cost-cutting measure as Chorus seeks to contain the cost of building its 70 per cent share of the $3.5 billion UFB network.

The new emphasis on cheaper aerial cabling would likely lead to more street clutter as some copper cables that are now buried underground were replaced by overhead lines.

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Experts said it would also mean the network would not last as long and be more prone to outages.

A construction industry source said the change was being considered because Chorus was struggling to bring down the average cost-per-premise-passed with fibre, to within its intended target band of $2500 to $2700 this financial year.

The review was confirmed by a source close to the company who said a shift toward aerial deployment would be "disappointing" but a real possibility.

Chorus spokeswoman Melanie Marshall said the company "had always said its preference would be for undergrounding but that there will be parts of the network that will be aerial".

Marshall said she could not comment further before the release of Chorus' interim results next Monday.

Green Party MP Gareth Hughes said he was concerned "the pretty important issue" had not been canvassed publicly.

It was important the UFB network was not rolled out "on a budget", missing an opportunity to future-proof crucial infrastructure, he said. "The Australians are spending an awful amount more than we are. We would be urging no above-ground poles in suburbs that don't have them already."

The source who confirmed the Chorus review said an underground network would be great on many levels.

"No-one really wants to see more infrastructure going up on poles. In the long term, 'undergrounding' is always going to come out better as it has a lower total cost of ownership."

It would also make for a more reliable network, he said. Aerial cables could be "very susceptible to faults" and might need to be removed later in areas where power companies decided they wanted to get rid of power poles and bury their electricity lines.

But despite the disadvantages, a rethink over aerial cabling was always on the cards as Chorus had to live within its capital expenditure constraints and deal with the "terrible reinstatement" costs of repairing dug-up roads, he said.

A 2009 report produced for the Treasury by former Telecom chief technology officer Murray Milner, now a director of government UFB investment vehicle Crown Fibre Holdings, said aerial fibre could be deployed at a cost of $30 to $50 a metre, versus about $500 a metre for traditional trenching.

But Milner said aerial fibre might need to be replaced every 25-30 years, depending on weather conditions, while underground fibre might not need to be touched for 100 years.

Crown Fibre strategy director Rohan MacMahon said that so long as Chorus abided by local government regulations and agreed technical standards, the method of the deployment was up to the company.

There were virtually no aerial phone cables strung down streets today, other than those leading into homes, the source close to Chorus said.

There might be alternatives in some circumstances where micro-trenching could enable cables to be buried in shallow slits in roads and pavements. Fairfax NZ

 

- The Marlborough Express

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