No broadband connection? Birds get the blame, Australian cable company says

Repairing the damage wrought on Australia’s broadband system, including replacing steel-braid wires that the pesky parrots have gnawed, has already cost A$80,000, according to network builder NBN. (Reuters)
Updated 03 November 2017
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No broadband connection? Birds get the blame, Australian cable company says

SYDNEY: Australia’s government-built $36 billion broadband network, already under attack from underwhelmed customers, has found a new and formidable enemy — cockatoos are chewing through cables across the country.
Repairing the damage wrought on the broadband system, including replacing steel-braid wires that the pesky parrots have gnawed, has already cost A$80,000 ($61,500), network builder NBN said on Friday.
The company estimates the bill could rise sharply as more damage is uncovered and more cables are rolled out in the national telecommunications infrastructure project, which is not due to be completed until around 2021.
“They are constantly sharpening their beaks and as a result will attack and tear apart anything they come across,” said NBN Co. project manager Chedryian Bresland in a blog post on the company’s website on Friday.
“Unfortunately, they’ve developed a liking to our cables ... these birds are unstoppable when in a swarm.”
Yellow-crested cockatoos are prolific in Australia and well-known for their voracious appetites for everything from fruit crops to wooden window frames.
Much of the cable chomping has occurred in grain-growing regions in Australia’s southeast.
“It would have to be an acquired taste, because it’s not their usual style,” Gisela Kaplan, a professor in animal behavior at the University of New England, told Reuters.
“Cockatoos usually go for wood, or strip the bark off trees, They don’t usually go for cables. But it might be the color or the position of the cables that’s attracted them,” she said.
The broadband network itself has come under fire for poor service and slow speeds, with customer complaints spiking nearly 160 percent this year, according to government figures released last month.
Australia’s average Internet speed of 11.1 megabits per second ranks 50th in the world, according to the most recent State of the Internet report by Akamai Technologies, an IT company specializing in Internet speed technology.
NBN is installing protective casing it says will protect the wires from birds in the future.


Fox rejected higher offer from Comcast before Disney buyout

Updated 19 April 2018
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Fox rejected higher offer from Comcast before Disney buyout

SAN FRANCISCO: Media giant 21st Century Fox, which was sold to Disney in December, rejected a higher buyout offer from Comcast over fears of regulatory risks, a filing showed Wednesday.
The joint regulatory filing by Fox and Disney said a buyout by cable operator Comcast “carried a more significant risk of exposure to a range of negative outcomes for 21CF” while “a transaction with Disney would provide superior closing certainty as a result of the lower regulatory risk faced by Disney.”
The decision came in the wake of the US Department of Justice legal challenge to a mega-merger between Time Warner and AT&T.
Comcast also refused to provide compensation if the transaction was blocked by competition authorities, while Disney proposed $2.5 billion.
Comcast had offered $34.40 per share compared to Disney’s $29.
On December 14, Disney announced the purchase of many of Fox’s assets for $52.4 billion, though a final approval by antitrust authorities is not expected before 2019.
Comcast was reported in February to have relaunched its bid, according to reports, offering to assuage some of Fox’s concerns.
The media landscape is undergoing accelerated upheaval as traditional TV and film players seek to merge with cable operators to better combat tech giants, including Netflix and Amazon and their video streaming platforms.