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Water pipes to be used in new UK broadband trial

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Fast broadband will run through water pipes in parts of South Yorkshire in the UK as part of a new trial.
New proposals to accelerate the rollout of broadband without digging up roads would see fibre-optic cables deployed through 17 kilometres of live drinking water mains between Barnsley and Penistone in the government technology trial.
Broadband companies could then tap into the network to deliver gigabit-capable connections to an estimated 8,500 homes and businesses along the route, helping to level up hard-to-reach communities.
Civil works, in particular installing new ducts and poles, can make up as much as four fifths of the costs to industry of building new gigabit-capable broadband networks.
The Fibre in Water scheme will demonstrate what could be a greener, quicker and more cost-effective way of connecting fibre optic cables to homes, businesses and mobile masts, without the disruption caused by digging up roads and land.
The network will also be used to set up 5G masts to bring fast and reliable wireless broadband to hard-to-reach communities where wired solutions are too expensive to deliver commercially. The first trial of its kind in the UK, it will also explore how fibre can help the water industry detect leaks, operate more efficiently and lower the carbon cost of drinking water.
The trials will last for up to two years and, if successful, the technology could be operational in networks from 2024 onwards.
Digital Infrastructure Minister Julia Lopez said: “Digging up roads and land is one of the biggest obstacles to rolling out faster broadband, so we’re exploring how we can make use of the existing water network to accelerate deployment and help detect and minimise water leaks.
“ We’re committed to getting homes and businesses across the country connected to better broadband and this cutting-edge project is an exciting example of the bold measures this government is leading on to level up communities with the very best digital connectivity.”