TASMANIANS, guinea pigs for the national broadband network, could lose their
high-speed internet for days on end because overhead cabling is vulnerable
to the state's wild climate, a senate inquiry has heard.
Digital Tasmania, Tasmania's residential and small business IT consumer
group, told the Senate's NBN select committee yesterday 96 per cent of the
network's "backbone" in Tasmania would be via overhead cable.
Spokesman Andrew Connor told the committee, taking evidence in Hobart, that
while overhead cables allowed a cheaper, quicker roll-out, his and other IT
groups would prefer the fibre optic cable to be buried.
"It's a necessary roll-out method to get the roll-out happening in a timely
period - if streets had to be dug up to lay new conduit or if existing
conduit had to be accessed, it may be at a very high cost," Mr Connor said.
"(But) aerial cabling is a non-preferred option for many and that is because
it is more susceptible to interference from mechanical interference - car
crashes, floods and storms, as we've seen in Tasmania recently." Asked by
committee chairwoman, Liberal senator Mary Jo Fisher, whether this meant
using overhead cables as opposed to underground might prove to be "pennywise
but pound foolish", Mr Connor said "certainly".
The roll-out in Tasmania, the nation's first in the $43 billion network, is
relying heavily on Aurora Energy, the state-owned power retailer, which will
string the fibre optic cable along its network of overhead powerlines.
Downed powerlines are common during gales, a regular occurrence,
particularly in spring