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Cruel sea threatens Torpoint's ADSL plans

Bandwidth-starved locals praying for fair weather

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The residents of Torpoint in Cornwall could be just weeks away from getting broadband - so long as the weather holds.

You see, before Torpoint is wired up for ADSL (it reached its trigger of 500 in July last year, BTW), the town needs to get a new backhaul connection.

And therein lies the problem. To provide the backhaul connection, BT must lay an undersea cable across Plymouth Sound from Devonport to Torpoint.

To do this required permission, known as wayleaves, from both The Duchy of Cornwall, as landowner, and the Department of Transport, which is responsible for controlling development affecting tidal or submarine areas.

What's more, BT also had to consult with a number of other interested parties including the harbour master, to ensure the cable-laying wouldn't affect shipping, and English Nature, to make sure there would be minimal impact on the environment.

After months of negotiations, BT has finally received the green light and now has a cable-laying ship in Penzance standing by to carry out the work. As long as the weather is fine - and there are some doubts - the job should be done within the next ten days or so.

A BT spokesman told The Register: "Coastguards tell us a storm is brewing this weekend. If that blows through as predicted we should have the cable ship in Plymouth Sound by the middle of next week, ready to lay the cable at the weekend as agreed by the harbour master so as not to affect shipping."

If all goes ahead as planned, Torpoint could be wired up for broadband by the end of March.

Torpoint isn't the only exchange having to wait for broadband. Torphins in Aberdeenshire, for example, recently hit its trigger but will have to wait until Christmas 2004 before it's wired up. Why? Because BT has to lay 23km of new cable and ducting to the main exchange in Aberdeen and has to liase with council officials before digging up any roads.

The same is true of Auchtermuchty in Fife, where 20km of cable and ducting needs to be laid before ADSL is switched on sometime in September. ®

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