No flood havoc for fibre blackspots network

The Queensland floods have covered some areas where Nextgen Networks has already laid cable for its 6000km fibre-optic backhaul network, but a previously scheduled staff break and lack of installed repeater equipment means the network remains intact for now.

The Queensland floods have covered some areas where Nextgen Networks has already laid cable for its 6000km fibre-optic backhaul network, but a previously scheduled staff break and lack of installed repeater equipment means the network remains intact for now.

Laid a metre underground, the fibre-optic cable itself won't be affected by the flooding, the company revealed. Water-sensitive electronic equipment might normally be affected by such an inundation, but as the fibre roll-out is still underway the actual electronic gear has not yet been installed. Furthermore, the facilities installed to house the equipment have been designed to keep sensitive gear well above 100-year flood marks, with many sites installed on hilltops and the sites "higher than any buildings in the area".

With floods common throughout Australia's northern latitudes throughout the summer, the $250 million Regional Backbone Blackspots Program (RBBP) funded roll-out was already on hiatus, which meant that no staff — who have been working across the remote outback in teams and continually monitored for safety from Nextgen's Melbourne operations centre — were caught in remote areas by the flooding.

"We had a Christmas shut-down anyway, so everybody was pretty much demobilised already," the company said. "We always plan to sit out the wet season up north, but our biggest concern in Brisbane is our staff."

Damage to underground fibre plant is not, however, out of the question as flooding washes away roads, rail links and soil, sending heavy objects careering through areas where fibre may be affected. iiNet and other internet service providers are already dealing with the loss of two fibre-optic services linking Sydney and Brisbane after a backbone was cut in the floods, while mobile carriers have been frantically working to maintain services and AAPT's Brisbane datacentre was brought offline due to flooding.

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