Water pipes could carry broadband cables to avoid digging up roads

9 August 2021, 00:04

Ethernet cable
Technology Ethernet Cable Stock. Picture: PA

The Fibre in Water project will examine ways to improve connectivity.

High-speed fibre optic broadband cables could run through the nation’s water pipes to help reach homes without digging up roads.

A trial scheme will also examine putting sensors into the pipes to allow water companies to quickly identify and repair leaks.

A £4 million trial will explore whether the process could be used to improve connectivity for homes, businesses and mobile masts.

Digital infrastructure minister Matt Warman said: “The cost of digging up roads and land is the biggest obstacle telecoms companies face when connecting hard-to-reach areas to better broadband, but beneath our feet there is a vast network of pipes reaching virtually every building in the country.

Roadworks sign
The move could mean fewer roads need to be dug up to improve broadband connectivity (Openreach/PA)

“So we are calling on Britain’s brilliant innovators to help us use this infrastructure to serve a dual purpose of serving up not just fresh and clean water but also lightning-fast digital connectivity.”

The Fibre in Water project is due to conclude in March 2024 and any scheme to use the pipes would have to be approved by the Drinking Water Inspectorate before being used in the real world.

The Government is already considering giving broadband firms access to more than a million kilometres of underground utility ducts to boost the rollout of next-generation broadband – including electricity, gas and sewer networks.

By Press Association

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