The deployment of Ultra Fast Broadband will be more of a civil engineering challenge than an electrical engineering or communications one, according to Crown Fibre Holdings (CFH) CEO Graham Mitchell.
He outlined some of the civil engineering challenges unique to New Zealand during his presentation at the Telecommunications and ICT Summit in Auckland. These include low population density, houses being located on average 15 to 20 metres from the street, and the fact some of the country’s major cities are built on volcanic rock, glacial rock or riverbed. Then there is the troublesome quarter-acre section, considered by many Kiwis to be akin to a birthright.
“When my parents were growing up the standard things was a quarter-acre section, a flagon of beer and pavlova. I think the flagon has been replaced with pinot noir or pinot gris these days, but the quarter-acre section still exists. Or some smart people have divided it and put three townhouses on it, which has put even more pressure on our infrastructure,” Mitchell says.
It is estimated that digging trenches and laying cables can be as much as 80 percent of the cost of building a fibre to the home network. As the CFH wants to help ensure the access price to the network is at a price point low enough to stimulate demand, it is looking at ways to help its potential partners by advocating for micro-trenching, and other techniques such as deploying fibre to houses via existing water pipes.
CFH, together with the Ministry of Economic Development and the Digital Auckland Working Group have released a discussion document on developing nationwide standards to cover shallow trenching and other fibre cable deployment techniques. The proposal includes piloting such techniques locally, to test the feasibility of the standards developed and ensure they are robust and will endure. Standards that are developed are likely to be included in the Utilities Code that will have regulation status under the Utilities Act 2010.