As the rollout of the National Broadband Network continues, horizontal directional drilling is increasingly playing a role in connecting households to the network. 

The benefits of using horizontal directional drilling (HDD) to connect users to the National Broadband Network (NBN) are many. The technology allows a connection to be established, without the need for conventional trenching – benefitting residents, the environment and providing economic benefits also.

Demand for HDD is expected to increase as NBN construction moves ahead, and according to reports up to 60 per cent of the NBN will be installed by HDD in some areas, with as many as 350 rigs predicted to be operating in future.

Construction of the NBN is now progressing in earnest with over 650,000 premises now passed and 250,000 premises activated.

NBN continues to expand in NSW, QLD

Leading the construction boom is New South Wales, where a further 27,100 homes and businesses were added to the NBN rollout schedule in September alone.

Pre-construction activities began for more than 23,800 premises in parts of Greater Sydney, Illawarra, the Central West and the Central Coast.

Work also got underway for fixed wireless facilities that will deliver fast broadband to more than 3,300 farms, homes and businesses situated outside metropolitan areas.

NBN Co spokesperson Darren Rudd said “More families and businesses in NSW are a step closer to being able to enjoy the benefits of fast and reliable broadband, which can deliver improved access to e-health resources, online education, teleworking opportunities and entertainment on demand.

“For families in rural and regional communities in particular, NBN provides access to internet speeds and capacity that many in the big cities take for granted.”

This continues the momentum of the NBN rollout with more than 77,000 families and businesses are already connected to the NBN across the state.

The rollout also continues to gain momentum in Queensland, with work now underway to bring the NBN to around 140,000 homes and businesses across the state.

In September it was announced that more than 3,800 additional homes and businesses in parts of the Sunshine Coast, Far North Queensland, North Queensland and Southern Queensland had been added to the roll out map.

In addition, homes and businesses in parts of Aspley were the first residents in Brisbane to complete the transition to the NBN.

HDD Verification of Competency 

With the NBN rollout ramping up across Australia, the HDD industry has established a new method of assessing the abilities of drillers in the trenchless industry. The Verification of Competency (VOC) is aimed at ensuring horizontal directional drillers have the necessary skills to deliver NBN works as demand driven by the NBN increases.

The VOC has been developed by Trenchless Advisor in response to industry demand, and according to Managing Director Peter Brown, “Assessing for Verification of Competency enables businesses to confirm that their employees or contractors are competent in their skills and use of equipment. A VOC is commonly used in many industries for pre-employment checks, contractual arrangements or site requirements.

“VOC enforcement is new for the HDD industry and is subject to interpretation. Working with industry leading clients, Trenchless Advisor has developed a formal process that allows for flexibility to meeting client needs whilst maintaining a high standard of assessment.”

The VOC is not training but instead a method of assessment to allow both employers and drillers themselves to gain a better understanding of their abilities, and will then be in a position to fill in the gaps.

The method is based on practical on-site observation and can assess competency on a range of machine sizes and types.

The VOC is also endorsed by Dial Before You Dig who see it as another key way to protect underground assets.

The assessment will be administered by the Australian Drilling Industry Training Committee, which is a registered RTO, and is also supported by major manufacturers such as Vermeer and Ditchwitch.

Assessors are industry experts holding all relevant qualifications within the HDD industry and Training industry combined with years of HDD experience.

Until now, there has been no formal method of assessing a driller’s capability and while most contractors operate in a safe and competent way, there have been concerns about the presence of unqualified drillers.

It is hoped that utilities across all disciplines will adopt the VOC in the future.

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Michelle is a freelance journalist and editor who, as well as covering all the latest and breaking industry news, is a gun proofreader and editor who never misses a trick.

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