Scottish Water and i3 Group reach agreement to use sewer system to enable super fast fibre networks across the whole of Scotland

Posted: Tuesday 23rd November 2010

Fibre optic infrastructure solutions specialist, i3 Group has today announced the signing of a non-exclusive Framework Agreement with Scottish Water, which sets out a process to lease a proportion of the public sewer network across the whole of Scotland to build super fast fibre optic infrastructure, including fibre to the home networks.

i3 Group has been building super fast fibre optic networks using the sewer system (its patented FS System) for more than eight years and already has a number of customers in Scotland who are benefiting from such reliable connectivity, including universities and local authorities. In 2008, i3 Group announced its intention to build a Fibrecity network in Dundee, which means connecting every property in the city to the fibre optic network using the sewer system to lay a proportion of the cable. Work on this 100Mbps network started last year.

John Ewen, commercial manager of Scottish Water’s commercial subsidiary Horizons, has been working with i3 Group to allow loose lay installation of high capacity fibre cabling within the sewer systems. John said:

“We have long seen the benefit of making the most of our assets. Our agreement is beneficial to Scottish Water customers and opens up the possibility of utilising a proportion of the sewer network to build new communications capacity at reduced cost and with lower environmental impact during installation.

“We are not attempting to become communications experts but, for the first time, we are playing landlord to allow our sewer network to play host to a new communications infrastructure.

“There is also scope for Scottish Water to reduce its own telecom costs for voice and data transfer between Scottish Water buildings. We are also expecting, in future, to benefit from the revenue we receive from the lease of our assets in this way to reinvest in green technologies and other related projects.”

The i3 Group’s low cost methods of laying fibre optic cable are getting international recognition as being a commercially viable way to deploy fibre to both existing and new build homes, as there is less disruption to the local area and no need for expensive road digs.

Greg Mesch, president and group COO of i3 Group said: “i3 Group has developed a low cost way to build super fast 1000Mbps fibre to the home networks and, among other techniques, using the sewer is an important component of this methodology. Scottish Water Horizons has been a long standing key partner to the Group and the extension of our agreement to cover the whole of Scotland is proof of our concept.

“Without using the Group’s methods, fibre to the home becomes expensive and commercially unviable to build. As a result other network operators are using alternative solutions such as fibre to the cabinet. This is a real compromise for the end user, as although they will benefit from uplifts in speed, it will soon be outdated and unable to cope with demand as services evolve and require more bandwidth. Fibre to the home is the only way to ensure that we have a solution that meets demand for decades to come.”

Fibrecity Dundee is on track for completion in early 2012 and the i3 Group recently announced Fibrecity networks are being considered for Aberdeen and Inverness. Elsewhere in the UK, a Fibrecity network is being built in Bournemouth with a further thirteen being planned or under consideration. The i3 Group is committed to connecting at least one million homes in the UK over the next four years.

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