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Chorus' fibre roll-out enters its final stages

Some rivals may hate them, but fibre-fed cabinets will provide a Crown fibre kick-start.

NBR staff
Fri, 03 Jun 2011

Telecom's network division, Chorus, is rapidly approaching the finish line of its massive programme of work to rev-up broadband speeds across New Zealand with only 600 high speed broadband cabinets left to deploy, the company said today.

The timing works out well for the Telecom, which chief executive Paul Reynolds says is on track to spin-off Chorus by the end of the year - also the target date for the division to finish its cabinet rollout.

With just over six months to go, Chorus is now more than 80 percent of the way to completing the rollout of 2,500km of fibre optic cable and 3,600 roadside cabinets to help boost broadband speeds to at least 10Mbit/s for urban customers living too far away from the broadband equipment in their local telephone exchange.

Chorus chief executive Mark Ratcliffe said that the lessons they’ve learnt from delivering one of the largest broadband network upgrades the country has ever seen will be invaluable when they begin work on the next stage of New Zealand’s broadband journey, fibre to the home.

It also offers a head start for the Crown fibre roll-out in UFB regions won by Telecom. For most cabinets support not just fibre from the exchange, but a future fibre connection from the cabinet to a home or workplace (today, most of the final leg - of up to 2km - is copper).

Chorus began its national programme in Auckland’s Point Chevalier in March 2008 and, combined with the upgrade of broadband equipment in telephone exchanges, aims to enable broadband speeds of at least 10Mbit/s for 80% of New Zealanders by the end of 2011.

As well as taking fibre deeper into suburbs, Chorus’ project has taken fibre to new towns including Te Anau, Akaroa, Gisborne and Westport. Chorus also regularly deploys fibre direct to business premises, as well as homes in new subdivisions. In the last year it added several thousand kilometres of fibre to the wider Telecom network, taking the total amount of fibre in the network to 27,400km.

Rivals have grizzled that not enough space is allowed for other companies' broadband gear. And that if they instead choose to take a cabinet feed from Telecom Wholesale, it's too expensive, or not available in concert with services from an exchange (the latter accusation has gained concrete form as the Commerce Commission threatens High Court action).

But leaving aside the messy politics, the cabinets are technically impressive. Here are some of the techs and specs:

  • About 750,000 customers will be connected to Chorus’ cabinets by the end of 2011
  • Each cabinet will generally service up to 300 customers
  • The cabinet body is made of 240kg of marine grade aluminium
  • Cabinets are coated in a special paint to facilitate graffiti removal
  • They contain battery back-up power supply as well as a generator connection in case of power-cuts
  • At full load a cabinet uses 1200 watts, the same power as a one-bar heater
  • They are designed to limit noise to about 30 decibels, just above the level of a whisper
  • 650 key parts in each cabinet (1,150 including fastenings)
  • 2 tonnes of concrete per cabinet base 
NBR staff
Fri, 03 Jun 2011
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Chorus' fibre roll-out enters its final stages