Slideshow

On the ground with the NBN rollout: Part 2 - Kiama

ARN gets exclusive access behind the scenes of the National Broadband Network’s first mainland sites

  • This is the largest of five first release sites trialling rollout methods for the National Broadband Network. Half will be run along power lines while the rest will be done the hard way – none of it is can run through Telstra’s existing ducts.

  • The temporary office serving as the NBN’s headquarters is a disused Holden dealership set to be knocked down before the global financial crisis dried up the cash.

  • Serious-looking men work on meticulous area maps next to fibre termination boxes and other technical equipment.

  • Cabling and pipes are strewn along the floor, but the strangest sight is a cluster of tagged, muddy rocks pulled from Kiama’s soil by hapless dig crews.

  • Once roads are closed and homes blocked off, drilling rigs that resemble mechanised office chairs put long shafts with drill heads into the ground. The pipe is then attached to the drill at the end point before the shaft is pulled back – taking the vital conduit with it. It’s often slow, meticulous work that can be halted at any moment by rocks or road crossing residents.

  • Sonic devices pulse through soil to find any rocks in the way and eventually a narrow tunnel for a pipe is created.

  • (L to R) Merril, Robyn and Christine are friends and locals we find chatting beside a work site. They’ve been annoyed by the disruptions and destruction of once pristine suburbia but despite the fact they may never use it, all three are firm believers in the work being done.

  • The pipe is then attached to the drill at the end point before the shaft is pulled back – taking the vital conduit with it. It’s often slow, meticulous work that can be halted at any moment by rocks or road crossing residents.

  • A long, thin scar of dirt runs from the kerb to the house, but part of the job is to heal the grass torn up by machines – eventually the boxes put into the ground will become part of the landscape.

  • As we exit the area for the last time, Parkes points out a home with NBN cabling sticky-taped on the outside wall ready for the last piece of the puzzle – an Optical Network Terminal box.

  • “To give you an ideal of scale, the average footpath is 25MPa (megapascals),” NBN Co consultant, Fernando Calero, says. “The hardest concrete poured in the region has been 65MPa and the concrete used in Petronas Towers in Malaysia is 125MPa – it’s got steel in it and they had to invent that stuff. “We’ve been getting results from these rocks of up to 198MPa.”

  • NBN Co construction manager, Lance Parkes, and Field QA Audit and Compliance Officer, David Tipping.

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