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Really Dark Fiber: Web Access via Sewers
By: Terri Wells
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    2007-08-29

    Table of Contents:
  • Really Dark Fiber: Web Access via Sewers
  • Advantages of Sewer-based Dark Fiber
  • Case Studies and More on the Technology
  • Competition and Future Outlook

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    Really Dark Fiber: Web Access via Sewers


    (Page 1 of 4 )

    It sounds like a joke, but it isn’t; it’s an actual business. And the more you think about it, the more sense it makes. Internet access via the sewer lines has a lot to recommend it, as H2O Networks demonstrated recently with yet another customer win.

    Aficionados of Google or the peculiar way April Fools’ Day is celebrated online may remember this year’s stunt by the search engine giant. Dubbed Google TiSP (BETA), the company unveiled a new “service” that offered free broadband Internet access to its users via cables flushed down the toilet and connected to a node by one of Google’s hard-working Plumbing Hardware Dispatchers (PHDs). Many web surfers had a good laugh over this joke; Google even went so far as to build a Google help group for TiSP users where they could continue the humor.

    Strangely enough, others clearly thought it was serious and wanted to sign up for the service. Before you start wondering about their joke-detecting ability, here’s something to consider: a company that offers just such a service has been operating in the UK since 2002. It’s not free, it’s not affiliated with Google or any other search engine, and it certainly doesn’t offer a home installation kit that you have to G-flush. But H2O Networks does offer Internet access via the sewer lines. Google may have boasted about “dark porcelain;” H2O Networks clearly knows dark fiber.

    The UK company’s mission statement is simple: “To install customized, secure and high quality optical fibre networks using the sewerage network for sophisticated users in the public and private sectors, very much faster and at lower cost than by any other means available.” In its short existence, H2O Networks has installed cables for six universities and three councils, and spent far less time and money on the endeavor than more conventional means. Its UK fiber network starts in Scotland and extends south all along the eastern UK. It plans to lay more than 370 miles of cable within the next 18 months – not a huge amount by American standards perhaps, but not bad for a company that seems to be flying under the radar (remember, back in April, most people thought the idea of broadband Internet access via the sewers was a joke).

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