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Paul Swain

3 October, 2001

Electric fence interference with Internet

The government is taking steps to help stop electric fences interfering with internet service in rural areas.

Last year the Ministerial Inquiry into Telecommunications found that the speed and reach of dial-up Internet service in rural areas was being significantly limited by electric fence interference.

Since then, Government officials have been working with groups including Federated Farmers, the electric fence industry and Telecom, to identify problems and find practical cost-effective solutions.

Communications Minister Paul Swain and Rural Affairs Minister Jim Sutton said they were pleased with the progress the working group had made.

"The group has confirmed there is a major problem. Given the importance of Internet access in rural areas, we need to work hard to find a solution," the Ministers said.

The working group found a well-designed and maintained electric fence was not likely to interfere significantly with a working dial-up Internet service connection. However, many electric fences near telecommunications cables were not properly installed or maintained.

To address this the working group has come up with a plan of action which it will review in 18 months time. Over the next 18 months it plans to:
„hprepare guidelines on suitable electric fence design and operational standards near telecommunications cables, including incorporating the guidelines in an appropriate standard;
„hmount a public awareness and education campaign on how to install and maintain electric fences near telecommunications cables, particularly to owners of electric fences in rural areas; and
„hmake available guidelines on preferred modems, because some models were found to perform significantly better in a ¡¥noisy¡¦ electrical environment.

Jim Sutton and Paul Swain said it was in everyone¡¦s interest to work together on this because in the end it would mean better Internet service for rural communities.

"We are confident this plan of action will help improve the speed and reach of Internet access in rural areas where electric fence interference is a problem," they said.

  • Paul Swain
  • Communications and Information Technology