CityNet robots install fiber optic cable through sewers in Indianapolis

Feb. 1, 2001
CityNet Telecommunications Inc. announced a unique plan that will use robots to install fiber optic cable through sewer pipes in Indianapolis, a plan to solve the problem of how to connect individual buildings to fiber optic networks that typically circle around cities.

CityNet Telecommunications Inc. announced a unique plan that will use robots to install fiber optic cable through sewer pipes in Indianapolis, a plan to solve the problem of how to connect individual buildings to fiber optic networks that typically circle around cities. CityNet's solution allows cities to deploy advanced voice and data services without digging up streets, disrupting traffic or degrading city life with gridlock and noise. In addition, the technology enables cities to transform sewers into revenue-generating assets.

Indianapolis is the third U.S. city to sign an agreement with CityNet, joining Albuquerque and Omaha in a rollout of broadband services. CityNet is negotiating similar agreements with other American and European cities. The company plans to begin deployment in Indianapolis in April.

A common obstacle to rapid deployment of broadband Internet and data services is the need to rip up city streets to lay fiber optic cable. By using the sewer system, CityNet avoids this problem and gains access to the basements of thousands of buildings, bridging the so-called "last mile" gap that separates individual buildings from the metro "beltway" fiber optic networks that circle around cities.

CityNet's small computer-driven robot known as S.A.M. (Sewer Access Module) is equipped with cameras to install stainless steel alloy rings to support fiber optic cable inside of sewer pipes. The conduit that encases the fiber is made of the same stainless steel alloy that protects the fiber from corrosion and cuts. The 6-inch-wide, 36-inch-long, cylindrical robots are manufactured for CityNet by Ka-Te, a Swiss sewer robotics company. They have already been deployed successfully in Hamburg and Regensberg, Germany.

Workers lower SAM down a manhole and into the sewer where the robot is remotely controlled by a nearby technician. Rolling on four small wheels, the robot installs steel rings around the inside of the pipe every few feet. It then drags steel conduits (casing that houses the fiber and shields it from the sewer environment) through the pipes and attaches the conduit to the rings.

In a formal announcement of the agreement with CityNet, Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson said, "CityNet will help Indianapolis upgrade its high-speed broadband infrastructure without the usual costs, destruction and disruption associated with trenching our streets. This technology also gives us another high-tech edge to attract and retain businesses."

CityNet installs the fiber and then leases it to telecommunications companies, Internet and network service providers and others, large or small, that offer high-speed service. Cities share in the revenue. CityNet also inspects, maps and cleans, free of charge, the sewer lines it uses.

CityNet's goal is to fill the last remaining major gap in an all-optical network, thereby helping meet the demand for bandwidth and speed in high-density metro areas.

About CityNet:

Founded in 1999, CityNet is a provider of last-mile fiber optic networking, building carrier-class, all-optical high-speed networks in high growth metro areas. As a carrier's carrier, CityNet provides telecom carriers and network service provider customers with a broadband fiber optic infrastructure that connects directly into commercial and residential multi-tenant buildings. For more information, visit www.citynettelecom.com.

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