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Unexpected encounters in the field Part 4


Posted on October 15, 2012

5 min read

Our field technicians say encounters with frogs, ants, rats and snakes are just part of their day-to-day. Therefore, if you have a phobia about creepy crawlies such as these, I definitely wouldn’t be applying for a telecommunications traineeship in the field (note there are other traineeships available if you are interested).

Conversely, if you love the outdoors (including all the critters that go with that work environment); have a strong customer service ethic; and an aptitude for understanding technology, then I suggest now is the perfect time for you look into a field traineeship. However, before you do, you may like to read on.

Freddie the frog gets a Top Hat

Telstra’s ‘Top Hat’ program, is bringing additional ADSL2+ fixed broadband services to hundreds of thousands homes and businesses across Australia.

What is the Top Hat program about? Well, you often see Telstra’s roadside cabinets when driving around Australian metro areas and suburbs. These are known in the biz as Remote Integrated Multiplexers (RIM) or Customer Multiplexers (CMUX) and provide access to telecommunications services to the people living in the streets surrounding them.

Essentially in Telstra-speak, a Top Hat is a box containing extra ADSL2+ equipment that Telstra Network Construction crews have been installing on top of these existing street cabinets to increase capacity for high speed Broadband.

Mark Beinke and Rod Symes are currently in Darwin performing Top Hat migrations, ensuring the connections made between the roadside cabinet and the Top Hats were working correctly.

While carrying out their work, our network construction team members encountered a friendly local, who made sure their installation work passed the audit.

The result was one jolly, green thumbs up – and that’s good because there is plenty more work to do. While Telstra recently switched on their 1000th Top Hat, Telstra’s Network Construction crews have committed to completing an additional 800 installations by the end of this year.

Freddie the frog (short for Fred Astaire) seems nonplussed about getting a Top Hat

Photo. Freddie the frog (short for Fred Astaire) seems nonplussed about getting a Top Hat

Ants in our pits

Mick O’Donnell’s team are responsible for the repair of damaged optic fibre cables in Far North Queensland and Adam Sears’ team are responsible for the management of escalated customer fault reports. Close collaboration between both teams was needed when large nests of ants were discovered in Bamaga pits.

Ants chewing away in fibre trays caused disruption in a telecommunication pit located on Old Telegraph Road, north bank of Bridge Creek and also in a pit on the north bank of Canal Creek, Bamaga. Bamaga is a small town about 40km from the northern tip of Cape York, North Queensland.

The damage caused isolation of transmission bearers and thus isolation and failure of customer services.

Mick arranged for two techs, John Singh and Phill Ketchell, to be flown in from Cairns. John and Phill were ably assisted by a Mick Callaghan, who drove up to Bamaga from Mareeba a  868.2km drive away. The team cleaned out the pits and soon had repairs underway. They finished off the restoration by wrapping the joint for extra protection.

Adam’s team kept customers and other stakeholders informed of progress until the job was all wrapped up.

Freddie the frog (short for Fred Astaire) seems nonplussed about getting a Top Hat

Photo. Right to left: Mick Callaghan (in pit) with John Singh Job all wrapped up

Rats make the news

Hungry rats chewing through telecommunication cable and taking Ramingining, in the NT off the air, made the NT News recently.

Ramingining has a population of 800 and is just over 500km east of Darwin in Arnhem Land, so like Bamaga in the previous story, is a fairly remote part of our country.

When the damage was detected, communication technicians were organised and deployed, repairs were made and services restored in around 6 hours. It is important to note, that during the rat induced outage, phone calls to the hospital and emergency services were diverted to satellite phones.

Freddie the frog (short for Fred Astaire) seems nonplussed about getting a Top Hat

Photo. A rat. Image: lockstockb (royalty free)

Snakes, snakes and more snakes

Michael Moore from Telstra’s Service Delivery Northern team tells how a sub rack he needed to work on had to have live snakes removed before they could restore service.  Snakes and frogs had infiltrated both Gregory Downs and Leichhardt radio repeater buildings.  Due to the inordinate amount of frog and snake activity, Michael organised to have the buildings sealed to cut off amphibian and reptile access.

Can you see the snake? It is tightly curled up between boards 3 and 4 above

Photo. Can you see the snake? It is tightly curled up between boards 3 and 4 above

Photos. Top left. Note the snake skin hanging from the sub rack – an obvious sign that there be snakes about. Top right. Damaged due to a frog shorting out the system. Bottom. Stephen wisely decided to wait for the snake to move along before making tracks in his 4WD

Network Construction Wideband installer Stephen Imrie came across this Western Brown when it came between him and his vehicle as he was leaving Ootha mobiles hut. Stephen had just completed a mobiles expansion job at the site. Ootha hut is located about 75kms west of Parkes. Stephen estimates the snake was 2-2.5 metres in length.

Mid-September, Network Construction team manager Greg Jesse reported that a carpet snake decided to visit the team at Telstra’s Toowoomba Depot in Queensland. There was speculation it may have caught a ride in someone’s vehicle. As captured in the photograph, our suspected hitch-hiker made a quick exit before the snake removalist could arrive.

Suspected stowaway smartly slithers away

Photos. Suspected stowaway smartly slithers away

Check out the previous blogs in this series: