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SkyWrap®: RTE Network Infrastructure

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SkyWrap®: RTE Network InfrastructureFibre optic telecommunications and digital technology is used by power utility companies for monitoring and securing the power network to guarantee consistency in electricity transmission provision. French power utility company, RTE, wanted to ensure that communications were always available for this purpose and initiated an extensive upgrade programme of existing radio networks and leased telecommunications lines with optical fibre deployed on its own power distribution network.


In 2001, French government authorities announced intentions to reduce nationwide inequalities in public access to high-speed communications and digital information (such as video, voice and data) by setting up telecommunications concessions in all regions. RTE recognised that excess optical fibre planned for its power lines was suitable and uniquely positioned to support this initiative and, in 2002, formed a subsidiary company, @rteria, to manage the telecom operations to install a fibre optic telecommunications infrastructure throughout the RTE power distribution network.

The installation project, called ROSE (Réseau Optique de SEcurité or Secure Optical Network), was rolled out in 2010 and comprised of 9,000 km of additional optical cables on top of the existing 6,000 km already in service. In addition to RTE’s own network build under ROSE, @rteria also installed a number of links to offer concessions to local telecoms.

AFL provides fibre optic cable solutions for power networks by either replacing existing ground wire with optical ground wire (OPGW) or by installing a retrofit optical cable on to the existing power network where possible. In RTE’s project, the replacement of the entire power network ground wire would have represented a massive and expensive installation project for RTE requiring long outage times across the network. Much of the power network also had significant residual value and did not represent a viable renewal option.


The most cost effective and efficient solution for RTE was to install fibre optic cables on existing medium voltage networks (63 kV and 90 kV lines) wherever possible and only replace ground wire where needed or convenient. AFL was the first to provide a satisfactory solution for RTE based on it’s patented SkyWrap® system, which has since been utilized for the great majority of this project.

The SkyWrap system uses specialist installation equipment to helically wrap fibre optic cable onto existing earth or phase wires of overhead power lines. Specially designed SkyWrap® fibre optic cable is usually installed without modification to towers or poles and with little preparation or up front expense. The installation equipment is light and portable and does not require any special access clearance. It can operate in even the most difficult terrains achieving rates of up to 4 km per day.

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