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  • Julie Woodgate

Laying fibre broadband in rural areas - how is it done?

The cost of laying fibre for broadband in harder to reach areas can be hair-raising to say the least. Depending on the terrain and the existing services available in an area, some providers will quote astronomical prices to supply internet services and so a lot of rural areas historically have been left out of plans because to reach them would be economically unviable - i.e. whatever provider supplied a service, would not be able to recoup the cost of laying the fibre within a reasonable timescale - and most people would certainly not be able to afford to pay the cost of connection themselves.

The cost of the fibre optic cable itself is only part of the cost of providing the infrastructure to allow people to connect to the internet. Providers literally have to dig a trench for hundreds of metres if not more, lay down appropriate conduit and then "blow" the fibre optic cable through that. So you've got materials, specialised equipment, contract labour - and depending on the terrain, quite a lot of time spent to dig through rock or under watercourses, roads and walls.

The conduit and fibre optics need to be in a straight line in order to provide the best chance of a clear signal being able to travel along the cable. Therefore there need to be stopping-off points along the way with chambers, to ensure the cable stays on track and also to allow for maintenance access so that if there's a break in the cable, someone can replace a length of it more quickly and easily.

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