The city of Albuquerque, N.M., is the first in the nation to wire its sewers with fiber through a partnership with CityNet Telecommunications, bringing online 21 high-rise buildings with 1,000 business tenants.
Omaha City, Ind., and Vienna, Austria, are among eight other cities slated to get fiber in their sewer pipes soon through the services of Silver Spring, Md.-based CityNet, which uses robots to lay fiber underground. The network, which uses Alcatel fiber equipment to run a network of minirings, provides dark fiber to carriers interested in leasing fiber so they can offer business services to tenants of high-rise buildings along the traditional Indefeasible Right of Use contractual model.
Future builds will include several larger cities, including Dallas and Pittsburgh. The company is negotiating with 20 more cities, including Washington, D.C., for more installations.
“The actual construction has taken just four months,” said Robert Berger, chairman and CEO of CityNet. “No company has ever done anything like this before. . . . This is the first true last-mile network that gives telecom carriers direct access to paying end-user carriers.”
Along with building the first true utility-style fiber network, Berger also coined probably the most generous definition of the sewer system as “the only ubiquitous clear path running through the subterranean jungle beneath cities directly to buildings.” Albuquerque officials said they dubbed CityNet “night creatures,” since the company was laying fiber using its sewer robot – Sewer Access Module, or SAM – after dark so it wouldnt disturb traffic downtown.
“We have long been proponents of dual use of our city infrastructure,” said Larry Blair, Albuquerques director of public works. “It had never occurred to us that a sewer line might have anything but a single purpose.”
CityNet has signed a 24-year contract with the city to maintain sewer pipes used for fiber ring deployment, and a revenue share agreement. The company will supply the city with digital pictures proving it is living up to its commitments. CityNet has raised slightly less than $200 million from institutional and private investors.