Lighting up the sewers

Bournemouth sewers might not smell too pretty, but they are pretty useful places to lay down an inexpensive fibre optic network.

And that’s exactly what Newton Le Willows-based H2O Networks has in mind. Work will begin on the deployment of the fibre within the next six months, bringing next generation broadband and connectivity to all homes and businesses in the town.

This will be the largest so-called Fibrecity project in Europe and the company will be funding and providing the network at a cost of around £30m.

The majority of the fibre will be put in the sewers using H2O Networks’ patented FS (Fibre Optical Cable Underground Sewer) System. The fibre will provide high bandwidth to all Bournemouth’s businesses and more than 88,000 homes at speeds far exceeding current DSL or cable modem speeds, typically by tens or even hundreds of Mbps.

Bournemouth Borough Council was keen to see the town become the first Fibrecity as, not only is it renowned as a tourist destination, it is also a regional centre of education and business.

‘Many households and broadband customers in the UK have insufficient connectivity bandwidths because they are attached to legacy networks deployed in the 20th Century that just can’t cope with demand. Our solution brings us right into the 21st Century and beyond, with speeds in excess of 100Mbps,’ said Elfed Thomas, CEO of H2O Networks.

Fibrecity deployments are far kinder to the environment than traditional methods of fibre deployment, as the sewer is a ready-made duct which means the expensive and environmentally unfriendly method of digging up the roads is unnecessary and disruption to the road infrastructure is kept to a minimum.

Where it is impossible to lay the fibre in the the sewers, H2O Networks will install the cable using its patented BMD (Blown Mini Duct) system. With this method, a small, 20 millimetres wide slot is channelled into the road in order to lay the cable. This is not a civil dig and will cause minimal disruption to the local area.