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NTL's cable laying technique


In places like the Lake District, BT have to provide a telephone service to many outlying dwellings. Telegraph poles are somewhat impractical, being hard to install when there's solid rock a foot under the surface and also rather unsightly. So they employ the very simple solution of unreeling a length of armoured cable along the access track to the dwellings. The armouring renders the cable able to withstand fierce abuse, like being driven over and having loads of dirt and rocks dumped on it. The method seems to be pretty effective.

However, it does require a suitably armoured cable. This fact seems to have been lost on NTL. I came across this abortion of an NTL installation on my travels and was sufficiently horrified to reserve a couple of exposures and come back with my camera to record it:

NTL cable laid on surface of ground

And here it is from another angle:

NTL cable showing cars that drive over it

To get the cable from the street to the house, it is necessary to cross the entrance to a car parking area. But NTL couldn't be arsed to dig a trench. So what we get is a cable snaking over the surface of the ground, with cars driving over it several times a day... The installers had left an offcut of the cable lying around, so I could examine it. It's a bundle of twisted pairs paired with a largely air-spaced coax in a figure-8 sheath. No armouring whatsoever. There is no reason at all to suppose it will stand being driven over. The coax will be crushed and the insulation on the twisted pairs will wear through and short them out.

In short, NTL's cable laying skills suck donkeys' balls. And there's even some graffiti to that effect on the junction box. Wonder if they'll take note of it when they have to come out to lay a new cable?

Update: Early in March the cable died - I'm amazed it lasted that long. Looks like it got caught on someone's car as they drove over it and got ripped out of the box. Currently it is lying on the ground with one end disconnected and someone's NTL service isn't working. Wonder how long it'll be before they come and fix it? And if they'll actually put it under the ground this time? Don't hold your breath...

Further Update: Well, they never did fix it. The junction box is now reduced to this sorry remnant:

Remains of NTL junction box

and the cable itself has been neatly arranged along the wall out of the way of the cars.

Remains of NTL cable

But on the other side of the car park, we see the outrage has been duplicated. Despite the presence of a perfect practical demonstration of why not to do it that way, NTL have done a similar drape-the-cable-across-the-ground thing all over again and it has suffered exactly the same fate as the first one.

NTL cable ripped out of junction box NTL cable installation ruined due to NTL's incompetence

Here's a close-up of that junction box:

NTL junction box with cable ripped out

The words "fucking idiots" spring irresistibly to mind...




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