The rollout of superfast broadband in rural India is being held up by troupes of unruly monkeys.
Rural Brits would probably say that the rollout of superfast broadband hasn’t been speedy – but they should spare a thought for the folks of Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, who are having to contend with mischievous macaques destroying fibre optic cables as fast as contractors can lay them.
The Indian government has sunk the equivalent of $18 billion into improving broadband across the country, but the proposed laying of over 435,000 miles of fibre optic cable has hit an impasse.
Usually, fibre optic cables would be buried, protecting them from both the elements and the local fauna, but overcrowding and sites of great cultural importance in the 3,000 year old holy city mean that it’s impossible for contractors to dig down – and the monkeys just can’t seem to resist chowing down on the visible cables.
Communications engineer, AP Srivastava said: “We cannot move the temples from here. We cannot modify anything here, everything is built up. The monkeys, they destroy all the wires and eat all the wires.”
Srivastava, who is overseeing the infrastructure improvements, said that his team have had to replace cables less than two months after they were originally laid, owing to the monkeys’ incessant hyalophagia. So far, no alternative plan has so far presented itself.
The monkeys are considered by many local people to be sacred, so they aren’t able to be chased off and Srivastava and his team aren’t able to dig down, leaving them stuck between a monkey-shaped rock and a hard place.
Here in the UK, incumbent ISP BT has experienced some animal troubles of its own in North Yorkshire. While badgers aren’t treated with the same kind of reverence, they are a protected species, meaning the presence of setts can cause headaches for engineers.
In the meantime, engineers could take a leaf out of WiSpire’s book and combine wireless broadband with elevated holy sites to reach people – until a solution to Varanasi’s primate problem presents itself.