U.K. Farmers Laying Their Own Fiber

The following video was shown at a rural broadband conference in the United Kingdom.  A group of farmers took their broadband destiny into their own hands by laying their own fiber and installing their equipment.  It demonstrates the relative ease at which a fiber-based broadband network can be installed in rural areas.  Coming from a farming state, farmers are quite capable diggers and builders.  They may even do a better job and be more conscientious since they are doing the work on their own and neighbors’ properties.

Let’s take this video to the next step and plan a broadband network in a rural area utilizing local farmers. The network would be engineered and supervised by a professional, but the labor could be from the actual users.  After an hour or two of training, the crews would be given their assignments to trench and lay fiber along their own property before handing off the cable to their neighbor where the work would continue.  They would bury the drop cable to their home and any other buildings on the property where the splicer would make the appropriate fusion splices and test them.

The cost of deploying a rural broadband network is greatly reduced by utilizing this technique since the largest cost of the deployment is in the construction costs.  The use of outside plant contractors is only necessary when dealing with paved roads and in the town.  Of course this method requires support of the entire rural community and people willing to build along a neighbor’s property if they are unwilling to participate.  In my experience, small communities band together to support and help each other, so I do not assume that cooperation will be too much of an issue.  This concept is not new and was utilized during the electrification of rural America during the early 20th century.  I think it is time to resurrect old ideas for new technology.

About Mark Milliman

Mark Milliman is a Principal Consultant at Inphotonics Research driving the adoption and assisting local governments to plan, build, operate, and lease access open-access municipal broadband networks. Additionally, he works with entrepreneurs and venture capitalists to increase the value of their intellectual capital through the creation of strategic product plans and execution of innovative marketing strategies. With more than 22 years of experience in the telecommunications industry that began at AT&T Bell Laboratories, Mark has built fiber, cable, and wireless networks around the world to deliver voice, video, and data services. His thorough knowledge of all aspects of service delivery from content creation to the design, operation, and management of the network is utilized by carriers and equipment manufacturers. Mark conceived and developed one of the industry's first multi-service provisioning platform and is multiple patent holder. He is active in the IEEE as a senior member. Mark received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.
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