Departments launch £4m competition to explore running broadband through water pipes

Written by Sam Trendall on 13 August 2021 in News
News

Aim of funding mechanism is to speed up the rollout of fibre cables

 

Credit: Adobe Stock

The government has launched a £4m competition to explore the possibility of deploying fibre broadband cables via the UK’s system of drinking-water pipes.

The Fibre in Water scheme will award funding to run pilot schemes to test out proposals to use water mains infrastructure to “facilitate connecting the hardest-to-reach areas of the UK with advanced fixed and mobile telecoms services”. Ideas put forward should also contain suggestions for how technology could enable water companies to reduce by half what the government claims is currently a leakage rate of 20% for clean water.

The goal of the competition is to better understand – and, ultimately, overcome – barriers in the regulatory and planning systems, as well as the technical considerations for jointly delivering water and telecoms infrastructure.


Related content


Applications for funding are open until 8 October, after which a shortlist will be drawn up. Following an interview process for shortlisted bids, projects to receive grant funding will be chosen late this year, and money will be given out over the course of 2022, 2023 and early 2024.

Digital infrastructure minister Matt Warman said: “The cost of digging up roads and land is the biggest obstacle telecoms companies face when connecting hard-to-reach areas to better broadband, but beneath our feet there is a vast network of pipes reaching virtually every building in the country. So, we are calling on Britain’s brilliant innovators to help us use this infrastructure to serve a dual purpose of serving up not just fresh and clean water but also lightning-fast digital connectivity.”

The contest is being run by the Departments for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport; Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; and Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, as well as the Geospatial Commission.

In addition to potential making use of water pipes to accelerate the rollout of fast internet connections, the government said it is also “considering giving broadband firms access to more than a million kilometres of underground utility ducts to boost the rollout of next-generation broadband – including electricity, gas and sewer networks”.

 

About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

Share this page

Tags

Categories

CONTRIBUTIONS FROM READERS

Please login to post a comment or register for a free account.

Related Articles

Local government chiefs claim return to hybrid meetings would improve councillor diversity
20 May 2022

County Council Network joins a list of bodies calling for reintroduction of legislation allowing remote participation

HMRC kick-starts project to create £180m digital one-stop-shop for UK traders
17 May 2022

Digital supplier sought to support work over the coming year

Insolvency Service plans to close half its offices and reinvest £20m savings in online services
13 May 2022

Unions warn that restructure could imperil up to 300 jobs

Cornwall explores tech revamp of council chamber
12 May 2022

Local authority publishes RFI seeking information on possible implementation of a range of tech systems