“Concerns over damage caused by FTTH,” said the headline. “Underground infrastructure is being compromised by the deployment of fibre-optic cables,” it explained.
“There appears to be no shortage of troubled households whose dreams of getting fibre to the home (FTTH) have been replaced with nightmares of power cuts and water outages due to damage to underground infrastructure when digging trenches to lay fibre-optic cables,” the article reported.
It quoted the chief strategy of the company installing the fibre saying: “These disruptions are an inevitable part of the process. So, perhaps getting fibre is not a decision that should be taken lightly, or quickly.”
The next quote was gob-smacking: “Residents need to practise meditation and patience because, irrespective of their circumstance, there are bound to be disruptions. No fibre provider should be telling residents that there aren’t going to be any disruptions or that there will be no incidents because it’s impossible to know.”
He explained that interruptions happen because companies sometimes hit a service while digging, which may not have been identified by the service provider when the fibre companies showed them where they had planned to dig.
“Sometimes they may be able to identify the location of their infrastructure but they have no idea what the depth is. Or perhaps because the contractors that built that infrastructure did not follow those specifications.”
Don’t panic, that report does not relate to the rollout of Australia’s National Broadband Network, or to fibre networks in North America. It comes from South Africa, a country that seems to lack any equivalent to Australia’s Dial Before you Dig, or the US' Call811 service.
A South African delegate to the International No-Dig conference, held in Sydney in September 2013, reporting on the exhibition was particularly taken by the Dial Before You Dig stand.
“Dial Before You Dig is a free national referral service designed to prevent damage and disruption to pipe and cable networks in Australia,” he said. “Dial Before You Dig acts as a single point of contact to receive information about underground networks at any excavation site. There is no need to contact the utility organisations individually. The utility organisations send the information directly to the enquirer. The service is also designed to protect excavators - even a back yard renovator, an individual tradesman or a commercial excavator.”
What really surprised him was legislation designed to protect underground infrastructure: “In New South Wales it is even a criminal offence to dig without consulting Dial Before You Dig!” he said.
Beats meditation and patience any day!
Infrastructure protection news brought to you by PelicanCorp