The BBC on UK Plan to Lay Broadband Fiber in Sewers

BBC Technology’s Jane Wakefield reports on a plan to build a UK broadband network using the sewers:

H20 networks has been in negotiations with water firms for the last five years and began rolling out its fibre-via-sewers network – known as Focus (Fibre Optical Cable Underground Sewer) in 2003…. Managing director Elfed Thomas came up with the idea of using sewer ducts for fibre some years ago. “We had this big infrastructure problem in the UK and we had this existing ducting and I just thought why can’t we use the sewers,” he explained. Now, some years from that initial thought, he has high hopes for his sewer-based network… “There is no reason why this can’t be deployed throughout the UK,” he told the BBC News website.

Sewer-based broadband has many benefits; it allows fiber, er, “fibre,” to be laid without digging up the roads. Said Elfed: “To roll out a networking deploying fibre over a 2km area would be six to 12 months in the planning. We can do it physically in four hours.”
The costs to lay pipe in the sewer are also considerably lower than the £150 or more it costs to dig up a meter of street; Thomas noted that the UK’s Napier University got a 1.2-kilometer network for £80,000 instead of £400,000 and up, and it was implemented in a week.
For somewhat obvious reasons, it’s also more environmentally friendly to utilize the existing sewer lines, and because the lines already exist the costs don’t go up for faster service.
But how do you get your, er, fiber from the sewer to the house? Thomas says maybe the same way that other sort of fiber leaves it: Via the toilet. But what about leakage? Yes, yes, all these questions are important ones, but it’s also worth pointing out that Japan and Paris both have sewer-based broadband systems.
But, you might ask, isn’t there something in this plan offensive to morality, and in particular bothersome to a blogger? Does it invoke horror, the thought of my prized bloggage schlepping through the filth? Can a writer like me really truck with having my cherished words mope their aromatic way through the sewer to reach my UK readers?
Of course I can — hey, that’s where I got ’em in the first place.
Image via Wikipedia.

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