Fibre cable company lights up the industry

A week before Christmas, Fibre Optics Design and Construct general manager Michael McKeogh was climbing Sydney Harbour Bridge connecting cables for the the New Year's Eve fireworks.

It showed how diverse his Bulli business had become since it started in 2005 with two people.

Fireworks light up the sky from the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Fireworks light up the sky from the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

He now employs a team of 15, is taking on at least one new employee each month and is presently hiring six.

Mr McKeogh said if he could find 50 fibre technicians he could start them tomorrow.

Fibre Optics Design and Construct has installed and maintained communication systems for almost every major motorway in Sydney, improved fibre optic cabling in coal mines and started work on the NBN rollout.

His business is one of many that the Illawarra Innovative Industry Network identified as versatile and resilient.

"The M7 Motorway was our first project," Mr McKeogh said.

"It involved connecting all the communication cables for the 40 kilometres of road."

The groundbreaking M7 project helped the business win more contracts for the Lane Cove Tunnel, Cross City Tunnel, M5 and Sydney Harbour Bridge.

"We have been invited to tender on the M5 widening," Mr McKeogh said.

"We were invited to tender on the Chatswood to Epping Rail Link when it was built but ... we were already working on the Lane Cove Tunnel."

But the business has now grown to handle more than one major project at a time.

Last year it won a national excellence award from the National Electrical and Communications Association for an innovative fibre optic network installation it did at Integra coal mine near Singleton.

Such installations have become popular in the mining industry because of their ability to improve communication, save money and reduce downtime.

That started with maintenance work at BHP Billiton's Illawarra mines whenever a machine broke a cable.

"But we found an innovative solution and started to replace all the broken cables with steel-armoured fibre optic cables," Mr McKeogh said.

The company has also developed a telephone system for mines and transport links.

"We are just trying to get approval through mines authority people," he said.

The phones can be used for voice, video and monitoring temperature, humidity and faults.

"We will be using it ourselves on the NBN as a commissioning tool because it will save us a fortune in mobile phone bills," Mr McKeogh said.

"We have done work in Canberra, Coffs Harbour, Gosford, Western Sydney, Homebush and Kiama. We have a number of crews. It has taken us 12 months but we have now built such a solid reputation for the NBN that we are now testing other contractors' work.

"We are very confident about the future. I didn't predict the NBN but I did have a goal I would get to 20 people and we would be working throughout Australia.

"We are well on the way."

Michael McKeogh.

Michael McKeogh.