Fibre Could be Stuffed Down Gas and Electricity Ducts to Lower Install Costs

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The government’s hoping to slash the cost of installing fibre across the nation, by making it easier for the broadband engineers to run cables through the access pipes and down the many and varied holes of the utility companies.

This could cut the cost of some fibre installations by as much as four fifths, the numbers say, as the hardest and costliest part of the process is always digging the holes in the roads and pavements, then getting them all filled in and the slabs matching up after. The National Infrastructure Commission says £8bn could ultimately be sliced off the cost of rewiring the entire country with fibre, should we make better use of existing utility connections and not find exciting new ways to overspend that money on something else anyway.

The concept has been floated many times before by independent companies, who have long eyed up the nation’s legacy tunnels, pipes and even sewers as easy methods of plumbing in new internet connections at lower costs per premises. This time, however, it’s being thought of a little more seriously and is the subject of a DCMS review of the Access to Infrastructure Regulations, which could make it easier to implement infrastructure sharing across industry by including terms that grant a “right to access” at sensible commercial rates.

Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman said: “We’ve seen progress with improved access to Openreach’s ducts and poles, but other telecoms companies have large networks that are not easily accessible. We want them, and utility companies, to do more to open these up and help speed up getting next-generation broadband to people across the UK.” [GOV via Techradar]

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