Services hit during UFB roll-out

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 05:00 29/11/2012

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Downer and Chorus NZ are assuring Timaru people that the number of power outages and affected utilities due to the work on ultrafast broadband is nothing out of the ordinary.

Fibre-optic provider Chorus has contracted Downer for the infrastructure work on the ultra-fast broadband roll-out to Timaru. However, the Timaru Herald has received reports of power outages and water outlets affected as a result of drilling by Downer.

Spokeswoman Melanie Marshall was unable to give an exact number of mishaps logged, but said there had been no "significant" incidents.

"We apologise for any outages caused while we're working to build the ultra-fast broadband network. We're always looking for ways of continuously improving our processes together with our local partners," she said.

"In terms of the reinstatement of streets as we roll out UFB, this will happen as we go. The time it takes to get the streets back in ‘one piece' really depends on the nature and amount of work we've carried out and the surface of the street itself."

Alpine Energy chief executive Andrew Tombs acknowledged there had been a brief power outage on November 17 to some businesses in the CBD as a result of Downer workers getting too close to a cable.

"But overall, Downer has done a good job, and they have been contacting us every day with updates on the project's progress," Mr Tombs said.

"We haven't had too many issues. Considering the technical nature of directional drilling, it has been mostly without incident."

Timaru District Council drainage and water manager Grant Hall said there had been occasional stormwater and sewer services affected by misplaced drilling.

"There have been some strikes in the last couple of weeks. But it hasn't been too many. If the drillers do strike something, the event gets called in and a maintenance contractor makes the repair, which is then charged back to Downer."

A 2Degrees spokesperson confirmed customers were affected for a couple of hours in Timaru on November 23 as a result of an unexpected incident with Downer.

Thanks to the UFB work, more than 1800 homes in the town already have the capability to access to internet speeds up to 100 megabits per second, and about 6000 homes should have UFB capability by June next year.

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- The Timaru Herald

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