Internet connections go down the tubes

Recently, Bournemouth became the first English city to get a new form of super-fast internet. While that's great news for the 88,000 homes and businesses that will get new 100 Mbps connections, the real news is how they're going to get it. H2O Networks Ltd, the company that's funding the project, will be bringing the internet cable through Bournemouth's sewer system.

While I appreciate the humorous potential that a sewer-borne internet system offers, the truth of the matter is that this is an amazingly brilliant idea. Having spent years dealing with incredibly slow dial-up connections, I finally sprung for a cable connection when it came to my neighborhood. In addition to the considerable monthly cost, I also had to pay to have the cable laid across my (landlord's) lawn. Now that I live in the big city, I don't have to shell out cash to have cable laid, but my area of the Bronx only has one internet service provider, which means that I'm stuck with paying the monopoly rate for my internet.

One of the major problems with internet access is the fact that companies often have to lay miles of cable to offer it. In the process, they have to dig up streets, put in conduits, and generally spend a small fortune before they can even offer their services to potential subscribers. Of course, once the subscribers are online, they get to compensate for the considerable capital investment that the providers laid out.

While not every city has an impressive sewer system like Bournemouth's, there are many areas where old sewers, aqueducts, and other conduits are laying empty, waiting to crumble. For example, New York's Croton aqueduct runs from the Public Library at 42nd Street all the way up to northern Westchester County. Rather than dig holes to lay cable, it seems like re-using the last century's infrastructure would be a cheap, green way to go. Besides, until alligators learn to eat cable, the city's sewers should be pretty safe!

Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. If he could get a 100 Mbps connection...well, let's just say that Websudoku would have a new master.
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