The fibre network operator is looking to work with five of the country’s top water utility companies in what it views as a win–win for both parties

The concept of marrying the UK’s sewerage and fibre networks has been around for some time. The benefits seem clear for fibre companies: the UK’s sewerage network is expansive, covering huge swathes of dense metropolitan areas, providing a useful channel for fibre while avoiding expensive (and publicly disruptive) digs. 
Meanwhile, the water companies gain the benefit of being able to use the fibre network for smart monitoring of the sewers, gaining access to real-time data on water flow and pollution. 
However, it is not all smooth sailing. The UK’s sewerage network is as old as it is vast, with many of its conduits not fit for fibre deployment. As a result, projects seeking to use this innovative approach have met with mixed results.
Now, SSE Enterprise Telecoms (SSE ET) has set out to create a Technical User Group including five of the UK’s leading water companies, to help open a dialogue between the sectors and standardise the way in which fibre is deployed in sewers. 
“We understand that it’s a critical requirement to keep disruption to a minimum when working on such projects, so we are maximising the use of existing assets including the sewer network to lay fibre. This has helped keep costs down and eventually will enable the real-time monitoring of water flow activity, ensuring strong, lasting relationships with some of the UK’s leading water and sewerage companies,” said Paul Clark, sector director for utilities at SSE ET.
SSE ET itself began to lay fibre optic cables in Thames Water’s sewers back in 2017, estimating that it would reduce their deployment costs by up to 60%. Now, they may be hoping to expand operations as a result of new water regulations that will require the utility companies to reduce pollution and flooding incidents by 73% in the next five years.
“By establishing the TUG we have brought some of the key players into one room to agree a common set of standards, that not only enable us to further develop our connectivity offerings via the sewer, but also deploy cutting edge monitoring technology. This technology will help these providers monitor the flow of sewage, and better manage their infrastructure, which will futureproof them for years to come,” said Clark.
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