Telecom, Crown Fibre, MED team on Lower Hutt fibre trial

While Crown Fibre may be years away for most New Zealanders, 12 lucky homes in the Lower Hutt suburb of Kelson will get cabled by Telecom’s Chorus division early Feburary..

Over the first two weeks of February, Chorus will be testing a new trenching method in Kelson to determine the fastest, most effective and most convenient way of deploying fibre optic cables in residential areas.

Notably, the trial is a joint-project with the Ministry of Economic Development (MED), Crown Fibre Holdings (CFH) and Digital Auckland to define the standards for deploying infrastructure that will support the delivery of ultrafast broadband (UFB).

MED and CFH are working with all Crown Fibre contenders over new fibre laying techniques, the better for the government to get more broadband for its buck in the $1.35 billion project.

A key part of the Telecom trial is the Marais-Lucas Cleanfast truck-mounted trenching system that has been especially brought into New Zealand for the first time. This will cut a narrow trench 500mm deep along several hundred metres of residential roads – 130mm wide for the mini-trench and approximately 70mm wide for the micro-trench.

Another system, the Sidecut RT80, will also be tested cutting two 50mm wide trench, 250mm deep into the footpath and another on the berm of the road corridor.

Both systems have been developed by French-Australian company Marais-Lucas, who have been working with Chorus to bring the equipment and technology here.

“These methods have been used in Europe over recent years and we want to find out if it will work well in our local environment,” said Davidson. “We also want to better understand our options in terms of ease and speed of deployment, as well as the likely costs involved. The results of the trial will help us make the right network technology choices in the future.”

Chorus is also working with service company Downer NZ to carry out all the civil works.

The primary concern for any trenching activity is that the cutting does not impact on existing underground infrastructure. To minimise this risk, Chorus will also test the latest ground penetrating radar equipment from IDS Technologies. This has been especially brought in from Italy and gives an accurate picture of underground cables or pipes, thereby reducing the risk of damage to other utility services during trenching.
Chorus will lay fibre optic micro ducts within every trench and blow fibre through the duct to the boundary of approximately 12 homes.

This will help enable these residents to connect to fibre should they choose to in the future.

Chorus is currently in discussions with service providers who may want to offer phone or internet services over the new fibre network once the trial is complete.

A spokesman told NBR that Chorus has yet to decide which 12 homes will be connected for the trial.

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