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Cheap trumps ugly with overhead fibre

When your country has to borrow $250 million a week to balance the books, can you afford the luxury of burying all your ultrafast broadband cabling underground?
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Written by Darren Greenwood on

When your country has to borrow $250 million a week to balance the books, can you afford the luxury of burying all your ultrafast broadband cabling underground?

Such is the dilemma facing the New Zealand government as it ponders offers from utility companies keen to jump on the broadband bandwagon.

I say economic reality must be faced and since the budget for the broadband program is set at $1.5 billion, then cheaper options are necessary, like stringing the fibre cables along the power lines.

Major Auckland utility Vector has been running campaigns on the advantage of fibre to the door.

This has led to fears that the utilities will string the cables along the powerlines in built-up areas.

As well as looking ugly, the powerlines might not be able to cope with the extra weight.

However, the cost of putting cables underground is several times more than aerial delivery; and as the government seeks a rapid and expansive delivery of ultra-fast broadband, such costs will be important.

Of course, in the city I can see arguments for cabling underground and the dense nature of town and city centres will make underground delivery economic. Often, the newer housing estates already have power lines underground.

But in more rural and less densely populated areas, overhead lines will have to be used. I am sure given choice, people will prefer delivery via the power lines than no delivery at all or delivery with a budget blowout which could well mean more taxes for all.

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