At the Intelligent Cities Conference last October, we met Dr. Jey Jeyapalan, a consultant in pipelines and last mile optical fiber networks. In a session on alternate deployment strategies for the last mile, Jey spoke about the increasing political and economic problems in deploying fiber in dedicated conduits. He made the argument that sanitary sewers, storm drains, waterlines, and natural gas lines already reach the very buildings which need the last mile access and represent an existing and currently unused path which could be used to overcome the last mile bottleneck.
Jey said that using existing conduits for multiple uses is not new. "The idea started in Europe, Japan, and South Africa 20 years ago. As a matter of fact, a number of water utilities have permitted telecom cables to be put inside of water pipelines going back 100 years. A number of cities around the world have used existing utility pipes for building their broadband networks while serving their originally intended functions. Tokyo, Taipei, Berlin, Toronto, Vienna, Boston, New York, are among the growing list of progressive cities where such creative business partnerships have been successfully implemented." He said that EPA rules in the US require most cities to upgrade their sewers and waterlines in the coming years, thus providing a potential opportunity for multiple use of these facilities.
Jey went on to propose a partnership among telcos, pipe owners, service providers, and vendors, where each has something to gain by cost sharing. He indicated several different business models for making this work, and provided a few examples:
Jey's bottom line is that pulling fiber thru shared underground space can be accomplished faster and more cost effectively than by creating new dedicated fiber conduits. The details depend upon the specifics of each situation.
Additional information can be found at ( www.hhevents.com/T2jeyapalan.pdf ) and ( www.astm.org/SNEWS/AUGUST_2002/jeyapalan_aug02.html ) or by contacting Jey at firstname.lastname@example.org (+1 860.354.7299).