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StarHub blames OpenNet for damaged cables

update Singapore telco accuses company appointed to lay high-speed fiber network of tampering with its lines during installation, leading to loss of TV reception. OpenNet says matter now resolved.
Written by Tyler Thia, Contributor on

update SINGAPORE--OpenNet, the network company (NetCo) tasked to deploy passive fiber infrastructure for the country's next-generation national broadband network (NBN), said it has resolved a dispute with cable TV provider StarHub and a customer who had complained of loss of TV reception following fiber installation.

In a statement to ZDNet Asia late Friday, OpenNet said it has completed a joint investigation with StarHub over the issue, and "all parties have resolved the matter". Responding to claims by StarHub that there were other similar cases, the NetCo also said it is prepared to respond to them, but did not elaborate further.

The issue came to light Wednesday, when StarHub customer Tan Siyun sent a letter to the Today newspaper, complaining of cable TV service disruption since the high-speed fiber installation began in September 2010 in her neighborhood. Tan said she was only able to receive weak signals for the local free-to-air channels, while the rest of the cable channels were inaccessible.

In the letter, Tan said OpenNet contractors had "used the existing StarHub trunking and laid the optical fiber cable in by force". Tan said she contacted the NetCo numerous times but received no response from the company.

Following Tan's complaint, StarHub accused OpenNet of tampering and damaging its cables during installation works. In a statement, the telco said it had raised the issue with the NetCo and was reviewing its legal options.

Jeannie Ong, StarHub's head of corporate communications, said:"We are deeply concerned about OpenNet making unauthorized access to, tampering with and damaging our cables while laying fibers in Singapore as part of the NBN rollout."

StarHub said it sent letters repeatedly to OpenNet to discuss the matter, but received no response for several months. However, OpenNet said that was not the case.

The complaint is the first of its kind, since the company began the fiber rollout two years ago.

According to a press release on its Web site, the NetCo had completed installation in 60 percent of all residential and non-residential premises as of Dec. 31, 2010.

OpenNet has been plagued by a series of problems during rollout, such as a worker getting killed while laying underground cables, and condominium owners refusing the fiber installation due to aesthetic reasons.

The company also had a change of CEO last year, following the resignation of Tan Kah-Rhu in September. The executive, who helmed OpenNet for less than two years, was succeeded by Khoo Chin Hean.

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