SOME Garibaldi Street residents awoke to an unpleasant surprise on Tuesday morning, when they discovered that fibre optic cable for the National Broadband network was being installed above ground rather than underground, due to rocky terrain.
For residents Kerry and Bruce Chick, the thick black cable runs at eye level past their elevated house, joining the existing telephone and electricity lines.
Ms Chick said she was looking forward to being able to access the NBN but she felt that there hadn’t been enough thought given to how aerial cables would marr the town’s beauty.
“I feel that Armidale has gone backward, in that I don’t honestly believe there’s an appreciation of what’s here,” she said.
“I would have thought that a large percentage of the population of Armidale are here for the reason that the town is generally beautiful and that they would be questioning why it is constantly being eroded or spoilt with things that need not necessarily be done.
“One of things that concerns me the most is they’re not considering the aesthetic environment and looking at it from that view before they give approval.”
The roll-out of the NBN in Armidale has been conducted in three stages, involving the initial residential roll-out trial, the University of New England trial and the cabling of the remainder of the city.
The University of New England site is the only one to have been built entirely underground.
NBN spokesperson Edwina Hinchcliffe told The Express in a statement that both initial and current NBN roll-out sites in Armidale would have more aerial cables than future sites as they were designed before Definitive Agreements (DAs) with Telstra were signed in March.
“Since March 7, 2012 when the DA with Telstra was finalised, we now have had full access to Telstra’s existing underground infrastructure,” the statement said.
“This means that we can now install underground cabling wherever usable Telstra duct is located.”
Ms Hincliffe said NBN Co expected some 25 percent of the NBN fibre to be rolled out above ground.
“Where aerial cabling is required, it is planned that the cabling will be strung from existing utility infrastructure poles,” she said.
“A small number of these poles may need to be replaced depending on their condition and suitability to carry our infrastructure.”
According to Ms Hinchcliffe, NBN Co has briefed council on areas that will receive aerial installations.
Ms Chick said she felt the ‘Smalltown’ exhibition by Tim Winton and Martin Mischkulnig on display at the New England Regional Art Museum, which focused on the effect of ugliness in remote areas, emphasised the point she wanted to make.
“We think that people feel isolated or that they feel depressed because there aren’t facilities but really when it’s properly analysed, it’s to do with how much beauty one absorbs each day,” she said.
“I have my doubts about how much Armidale city council and the developers put that as a priority in the way they go about their proposals, the way they go about their approvals and the way they go about just their general