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I happen to be driving by workers laying down new cables. I asked them what they were doing and what it is they were laying down. To my surprise, they were putting in new (about 3 inch thick) cable to bury high voltage hydro lines as well as a bundle of fibre optic cable. This was last week on Kootenay near Hastings. What is up with Hydro? I understand the cable for power but what are they doing with fibre?
 

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I met a guy once who worked for BC Hydro's communications division. His explanation went a bit over my head, but the gist of it was that the various power stations have to talk to each other, and by some sort of law they have to operate their own communications infrastructure that they have control over; they can't outsource to, for example, Telus.

So that could have been what your guys were working on. Except, the gentleman I talked to told me it was all wireless, not fiber. So, MAYBE, BC Hydro has decided to offer FTTH.

It actually isn't that far fetched. The cost of you or me starting a company to provide data service would be prohibitively expensive. But perhaps not so much for BC Hydro because they already own the poles, and they already have staff and trucks needed to install and maintain new infrastructure.

A guy can dream, can't he?

m.
 

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Between substations, reliable (usually redundant) communications is needed for protection relay schemes when faults occur on transmission and subtransmission lines. Fibre or Microwave radio on one route is typical, leased lines can be used as well for secondary or B side communications .

Substation Automation Systems are driving modern communications into, within and between substations and control centers as well. Ethernet/IP are replacing proprietary hardware and legacy non-routable protocols meaning that the same infrastructure used for information technology is being leveraged for operational technologies.

Also, many utilities will put additional fibre counts (larger bundles of strands) than needed for their own core business and sell/lease capacity to communication companies as the incremental cost supports such strategies typically.
 

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I understand the cable for power but what are they doing with fibre?
Many years ago, when I was still with Unitel, we'd often work with Toronto Hydro to get fibre to our customers. Unlike copper cables, fibre has no problems when installed along side power cables. They may also be planning on having their own fibre network for resale. Other utilities do that, as they already have the right of way and sewers for running cables. In fact, in Mississauga and elsewhere, there are fibre cables run through the sewers.
 

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Here in Winnipeg, Manitoba Hydro administers the joint use utility trench program for new subdivisions so in at least one of them you will see Hydro or their subcontractor installing fiber for MTS to the house with the electric and Shaw cables.

Manitoba Hydro has also done a lot of internal fiber installation to replace the old microwave links and leased copper from MTS that have come up to the end of their design life.
 
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