One of the toughest nuts to crack in the business case for deploying fiber optic cable plant is the cost of labor, which by some estimates accounts for 70 percent of the price tag.
Now an old world method -- horsepower -- is helping aerial fiber deployments pencil out, as this Reuters story out of Vermont illustrates.
"It just saves so much work - it would take probably 15 guys to do what Fred (a Belgian draft horse) and Claude (his human owner) can do," said Paul Clancy, foreman of a line crew from FairPoint. "They can pull 5,000 feet of cable with no sweat."
On a recent June day, the tall, burly man and his muscular workhorse toiled 10 yards off of a desolate dirt road in hilly Hardwick, Vermont. They were assisting a work crew manning trucks and together they lashed cable to existing aerial utility line strung along wooden power poles.