Bournemouth Sewer Fibre Rollout Sinks


Plans to wire up the UK town of Bournemouth using the sewer system have fallen through following ‘contractual problems’

Despite the recent government threat to bring in legistlation to force utility companies to open their ducting for superfast broadband, the town of Bournemouth will not be getting a fibre network routed through its sewer system, due to contractual problems between the two parties involved.

It had been hoped that Bournemouth residents would be connected to a fibre speed offering speeds of up to 100Mbps through the i3 Group’s network.

Water Company Says No

However, Wessex Water has said i3’s pilot Fibrecity project to run fibre cables through its sewer system never got beyond the pilot stage, and the deployment will instead use conventional fibre deployment routes such as digging up the roads and pavements.

“The reason the project in Bournemouth didn’t move forward was because there were contractual problems,” Drury told ZDNet UK. “The technology methodology didn’t work for us, nor did the reward for placing the cables in the sewers.

“We would certainly look at other proposals should they arise, if the terms and conditions are right for us. We haven’t ruled out putting fibre-optic cables in sewers,” said Drury.

eWEEK Europe was unable to contact i3 Group at the time of writing.

Short Sighted

However the company has issued a response to ZDNet saying that Wessex Water had been short sighted in putting commercial demands above “the opportunity to provide a low cost fibre optic network that will deliver superfast broadband to their own customers”.

“Citing technical issues as a reason is misleading in respect to the viability of the i3 Group’s FS System, a patented method of laying fibre in ready made ducts including sewer pipes,” i3 said.

The breakdown of this project starkly illustrates the issues involved with looking for alternative ducting routes for a fibre rollout.

Wessex Water’s attitude constrasts with of BT for example. Back in February BT said that it would open up its network of ducts and poles to competitors, so that rival ISPs could lay their own fibre under the street or along telegraph poles to millions of homes in the United Kingdom.

Government Utility Threat

In March Virgin Media Virgin Media announced a proof of concept trial that used its own telegraph poles to deliver fibre broadband to the Berkshire village of Woolhampton. Last month it announced it would deliver superfast broadband via a fibre cable run across power poles to residents of the Welsh village of Crumlin, Caerphilly.

This came after Virgin Media spoke to eWEEK Europe UK back in June, confirming that it was actively talking with utility companies in order to expand its UK footprint.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has previously warned utility companies that he would resort to legislation to force them to open up their ducting and other assets so that superfast broadband could be delivered.

In June Hunt praised the positive and constructive attitude that BT has shown to this development, and also threatened to bring in legislation to force other infrastructure providers, such as electricity and water companies, to open up their ducts as well.

Author: Tom Jowitt
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