Gurb City Council has made a commitment to deploy optical fibre throughout the municipality of Gurb in Catalonia by utilising the existing water infrastructure.
Mayor Joan Roca, explained to ACN that the Atlantis Hydrotec solution involved placing a small flexible HDPE pipe within the existing water mains. The Atlantis Hydrotec pipe is fully approved and totally safe to use. Once installed this pipe can be used as a conduit for installing the fibre optic cables, without the cable ever coming into contact with the water.
The initiative mirrors similar projects approved in England and Germany, but has never been tried before in Catalonia or Spain.
The water supplier to the municipality, ATCA, with the advice of experts who have implemented the solution in England, has been commissioned to carry out the deployment along with the government, the guifi.net foundation and Goufone, the local operator.
A core network of 16km has been installed within the water network so far. This core network enables the deployment of a fibre network around the town, both in the small town, farms and remotely located houses.
Gurb covers an area of 53 square kilometers. Currently, it has connected all municipal facilities to the network and some twenty farmhouses. From now on, any resident that has access to the municipal water network will be able to access the optical fibre network connecting them via any telecommunications operator willing to operate by sharing this common network.
According to Roca, without this system, many houses and farms could not connect to the broadband network or would have to wait several years pending the priorities of private operators, “since the installation of fibre in rural area is costly".
The most common way to bring fibre optics to homes and businesses is through trenches and telecommunications poles, “but when they are not available the cheapest way is to make it go through the drinking water network“ said Joan Roca.
There is no precedent in Catalonia or Spain to provide a broadband fibre optic service through the drinking water network. In England and Germany, however, there are several cases. In fact, Roca explained that regulatory standards have drafted regulations on the subject. This regulation extends to other European countries. Following this rule, Gurb has deployed fibre optics continuously in water pipes without cutting the water supply to residents and ensured the safety of water.
The council has decided to take this step because the people, “regardless of where they live, need to be able to be connected,” said Roca. Due to the genealogy of the town, many of these houses are remote houses and farms, and small industries’ need to access the Internet.
To carry out the project he had the support of the Barcelona Provincial Council which has contributed €100,000. The balance, up to €118,000 of the cost of the deployment has been financed with the resources of the City and investment generated through the operation of the network.