Sempra Fiber Links, a unit of Sempra Energy, has received notification from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office indicating that the company's technology for the safe, efficient installation of fiber-optic cable within active natural gas pipelines has been approved for patent protection.
Successfully demonstrated in the US and abroad, the fiber-in-gas (FIG) technology, eliminates the need for expensive trenching and other more intrusive, conventional methods involved in the installation of fiber-optic networks. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is expected to officially issue the patent for the technology to Sempra Fiber Links next month.
"This patent represents a substantial milestone for Sempra Fiber Links and proves the innovative nature and practical viability of our process," asserts Michael Clover, president of Sempra Fiber Links. "The FIG process is less costly than standard fiber-optic installation methods in most urban applications. It also has little impact on the day-to-day lives of people working and living in cities because streets do not have to be trenched, nor natural gas service interrupted during the installation," he adds.
The practical application of the FIG process has been demonstrated at a Gas Technology Institute-coordinated project in Ft. Worth, Texas, and within Frontier Energy's gas distribution pipelines in North Wilkesboro, N.C. Other U.S. installations and demonstrations in both urban and residential areas will take place later this year. Utilities in South America, Asia, and Europe also have expressed an interest in using the technology to expand their fiber-optic networks.
"Besides being faster, less expensive, and less disruptive than standard fiber-optic cable installation methods, the process is safe, because the conduit containing the cable is inserted into existing natural gas pipelines that businesses and residents already are using," explains Scott Beals, lead inventor of the technology and vice president, Sempra
For more information about Sempra Fiber Links (San Diego) and its FIG technology, visit the company's Web site at www.semprafiberlinks.com.