Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Company Sends Robot into Sewers to Lay Fiber Optics. (Special Report: Cities and Technology)

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Company Sends Robot into Sewers to Lay Fiber Optics. (Special Report: Cities and Technology)

Article excerpt

Several of the top city officials in Indianapolis circled around a manhole last summer to see the newest technological advancement in fiber optics get sent through the city sewers. The item in question is a robot referred to as SAM (Sewer Access Module), and SAM is catching on fast nationwide.

Designed by CityNet Telecommunications, SAM has now navigated through roughly a dozen cities, including Albuquerque, Pittsburgh, Omaha, Neb., and Dallas. The miniature robot winds its way through city sewer systems and sets up fiber optic networks without the city having to hire companies to dig up streets to complete the same procedure.

Using tiny video cameras, SAM first navigates through the sewer lines and maps the pipes infrastructure. It then installs steel rings around the inside of the pipe every few feet. Steel conduits are then sent through the sewers and are attached to the rings to act as a protective case for the fiber.

The fiber is then sent through the conduits with air pressure. Once the fiber is in place, SAM's work is complete. The robot has successfully interconnected buildings within the city's downtown areas to high speed fiber optics, used often for internet and telecom carriers. Houston, for example has hundreds of buildings connected through SAM's sewer work.

Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson noted during the initial SAM drop in June 2001 that both the improvement of the city's telecommunications and the savings in cost were reasons to go with CityNet's robot.

"This is important for Indianapolis because our high-speed, broadband infrastructure will be upgraded without the usual costs, destruction and disruption associated with trenching our streets," Mayor Peterson said. "CityNet's technology, expertise and approach gives Indianapolis a major high-tech edge in attracting and, most importantly, retaining businesses within this great city. …

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