March 5, 2004 San Diego, CA -- Sempra Fiber Links has received from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office three new patents related to its proprietary technology for installing fiber-optic cable within active natural gas pipelines.
Sempra Fiber Links received an initial patent for its Fiber-In-Gas (FIG) installation method in January 2003; the additional three patents will cover various hardware, tools, fittings and seals, and specific techniques used during the installation of fiber-optic telecommunications networks. Sempra Fiber Links, which operates under Sempra Energy Global Enterprises, the umbrella for Sempra Energy's growth businesses, licenses the FIG technology.
The FIG process has been successfully employed in the municipal natural gas system operated by the City of Long Beach, CA, for a fiber-optic telecommunications network. It also has been demonstrated at a Gas Technology Institute-coordinated project in Ft. Worth, TX, and within Frontier Energy's gas distribution pipelines in North Wilkesboro, NC. E
"This process is much less disruptive than traditional methods because you don't need to trench roadways," explains Scott Beals, lead inventor of the technology and vice president, Sempra Fiber Links. "Fiber-optic cable can be inserted into existing natural gas pipelines efficiently and cost-effectively solving the 'last-mile' problem. Although nearly 40 million miles of cable have been installed nationwide, most buildings are not linked to the high-bandwidth cable."
"Telecommunications companies and cable companies now will be able to deploy their fiber-optic networks in a more economically efficient and environmentally-friendly manner," adds Charlie Christ, vice president and general manager of Sempra Fiber Links. "A recent decision by the California Public Utilities Commission [CPUC] authorizes Southern California Gas and San Diego Gas & Electric to permit any company meeting strict safety standards to install fiber-optic cable carrying conduit in gas lines throughout their service territories, including the FIG installation method. Southern California companies now have an advantage in the deployment of fiber-optic networks due to the FIG technology and the CPUC tariffs."