Pilot to explore using water supply network to deliver high speed broadband

Yorkshire Water and its partners have launched a pilot to study the potential for the UK’s water networks to be used as a conduit for delivering high-speed broadband to homes and businesses.

It was revealed in May that the water company and its partners have received a Government grant to kickstart the fibre in water market within the UK. The project has been allocated £3.25m.

Yorkshire Water will carry out investigations in South Yorkshire to plan the pilot, which would be a first for the UK.

If the scheme passes the initial investigative phase, fibre optic cables will be laid within 17km of Yorkshire Water’s live water network between Barnsley and Penistone.

Through using the existing water network, the project could provide a cost-effective solution for broadband providers to service hard-to-reach areas, while water customers further benefit from the associated reductions in leakage.

Analysts at Yorkshire Water would be able to use the cables to detect cracks, bursts and leaks so that they can be repaired quicker, reducing water loss and disruption to customers.

The solution would also reduce the need to dig up roads and land to lay cables, making the deployment of fibre optic broadband less disruptive to local residents.

Digital infrastructure Minister, Matt Warman MP, said: “It’s hugely exciting to have this ground-breaking project kick off.

“We’re on a mission to deliver better connectivity to hard-to-reach areas and water pipes could be a quicker and cheaper way to connect communities most in need with the fastest full fibre broadband.

“If successful, Fibre in Water could help bring the benefits of faster internet speeds to thousands of people in South Yorkshire and the rest of the UK.”

Sam Bright, innovation programme manager at Yorkshire Water, said: “We are very pleased that the Government is supporting the development of the Fibre in Water solution, which could reduce the environmental impact and day-to-day disruptions that can be caused by both water and telecoms companies’ activities.”