New South Wales electricity network management company TransGrid has confirmed optic fibre will be installed throughout its network by the end of the year.
The move follows the reallocation of the 1.92-gigahertz spectrum for use purely by cordless telecommunication services. Prior to the middle of this year, microwave point-to-point services shared the frequency.
The Australian Communications Authority confirmed that after the middle of 2001, microwave users on the frequency would no longer by protected.
Ashok Manglick, acting manager for TransGrid said: "We needed to seek an alternative way of communicating as the frequency band is no longer secure."
"The earthwire, which protects the lines from lightning strikes, is being replaced with a new kind that will include optic fibre within it."
Manglick said the lines will be progressively replaced and mostly occur on the 330kV lines, covering an area from the north of New South Wales to most of Sydney, Newcastle and Wagga Wagga.
A tender for TransGrid's optical fibre terminal equipment has been awarded to Fujitsu.
Manglick refused to comment on how much the project is worth, or how much or what will happen with the residual capacity available on the network.
"There will always be a little bit of spare capacity," he said.
TransGrid's high voltage transmission network is interconnected with the Victorian and South Australian system. Work is progressing on interconnection with Queensland.
It comprises 72 substations and power station switchyards and 11,500 km of transmission lines operating up to 500kV.