Farmers: dig your own trench for NBN access

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Farmers: dig your own trench for NBN access

Telecommunications analysts say there may be one way to ensure regional Australians can connect to the fibre network that underlies the NBN - by digging their own trenches.

Under such a scheme, pioneered in Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands, farmers that wish to connect to terrestrial broadband networks do so by undertaking some of the physical work that would make such a connection unviable for a carrier.

"There is the possibility that farmers might be offered the opportunity to have access to fibre should they dig their own trenches across their properties to connect to the network," says telecommunications analyst Paul Budde, referring to a list of suggestions he made to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy at an NBN symposium last week.

In Norway, property owners are given a discount on broadband services if they dig trenches to the borders of their property in order to connect with new networks being built by utility company Lyse Tele. Lyse Tele then provides guidance to the property owner on how to extend the cable to the house.

Budde claims Lyse Tele has signed up 130,000 broadband customers using a 'dig your own trench' scheme and now has customer churn rates of only 0.02 per cent.

Budde and his European counterpart Henry Lancaster have written a short report entitled 'Fibre to the Farm' highlighting the benefits of such a scheme.

"One of the key methods by which fibre operators can reduce deployment costs, and by which customers can expedite works in their area, is by allowing customers to undertake much of the mechanical (engineering) effort themselves," the report reads.

'Dig your own trench' allows fibre to the home to be developed "without direct State involvement, and indeed without the involvement of incumbent telcos."

The report notes that the three countries that have offered property owners the opportunity to connect to networks via their own trenches have the "highest regional (and global) broadband penetration rates" in the world.

"The dig your own trench phenomenon is a win-win situation," Lancaster told iTnews. "The potential is of course huge, and the proportion of customers opting to take this route is quite remarkable."

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