Birds feast on NBN ca­bles

$14 so­lu­tion to pre­vent cockys ru­in­ing ca­bling

Central and North Rural Weekly - - NEWS - AN­DREA DAVY An­drea.davy@ru­ral­weekly.com.au

AUS­TRALIANS are hun­gry for fast in­ter­net and it turns out cock­a­toos have de­vel­oped an ap­petite for it as well.

Cock­a­toos feast­ing on spare fi­bre-op­tic ca­bles, which are strung across the Na­tional Broad­band Net­work’s 2000 fixed-wire­less tow­ers, have racked up an $80,000 dam­age bill.

Flocks are at­tracted to the wires as they need a sturdy sur­face to sharpen their beaks. Their dam­age can de­stroy en­tire ca­bles, which cost about $10,000 to re­place.

How­ever, the bird at­tack has only caused a short-term flap, as the NBN has de­vel­oped a $14 so­lu­tion to pre­vent pesky flocks from fur­ther dam­age.

UV-sta­ble can­is­ters that en­case ca­ble ends have been in­stalled across the $3 bil­lion fixed-wire­less net­work for about a month.

Nbn’s build project man­ager, MND fixed wire­less (ca­pac­ity and ex­pan­sion pro­gram), Chedryian Bres­land, said it was un­for­tu­nate cock­a­toos had taken a lik­ing to their ca­bles.

“They are con­stantly sharp­en­ing their beaks and as a re­sult will at­tack and tear apart any­thing they come across,” he said.

“You wouldn’t think it was pos­si­ble, but th­ese birds are un­stop­pable when in a swarm.

“I guess that’s Aus­tralia for you. If the spi­ders and snakes don’t get you, the cockys will.”

The ca­bles be­ing dam­aged are not the ac­tive lines that de­liver broad­band and tele­phony ser­vices, but spares left hang­ing for fu­ture up­grades.

“We’ve been go­ing back to our sites and dis­cov­er­ing all this dam­age on the spare ca­bles we had been hop­ing to use on our tow­ers,” Mr Bres­land said

“They were dam­aged to the point of not be­ing re­pairable which has forced us to rip out the whole lot and com­pletely re­run new fi­bre and power ca­bles. That costs us about $10,000 ev­ery time we have to do that.”

The worst cock­a­too at­tacks were in the Shep­par­ton re­gion in Vic­to­ria, and there were also prob­lems in cen­tral New South Wales.

Cock­a­toos are es­ti­mated to cost the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions in­dus­try mil­lions of dol­lars, in what is de­scribed as a uniquely Aus­tralian prob­lem.

PHO­TOS: CON­TRIB­UTED

BIRD AT­TACK: Cock­a­toos have been feast­ing on NBN ca­bles to sharpen their beaks.

NBN has de­vel­oped a so­lu­tion to birds eat­ing its wires.

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