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Broadband cables to be fed through water pipes in rural areas

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Fibre optic cables could be fed through water pipes to help connect homes and businesses in rural areas to super-fast broadband.

The government has committed £4m to a trial which would roll out broadband to hard-to-reach areas without the need to dig up roads.

Installing new ducts and poles can make up as much as four fifths of the costs to industry of building new gigabit-capable broadband networks, the government said.

Digital infrastructure minister, Matt Warman, said: “The cost of digging up roads and land is the biggest obstacle telecoms companies face when connecting hard-to-reach areas to better broadband, but beneath our feet there is a vast network of pipes reaching virtually every building in the country.

“So we are calling on Britain’s brilliant innovators to help us use this infrastructure to serve a dual purpose of serving up not just fresh and clean water but also lightning-fast digital connectivity.”

The government has launched a competition to select a consortium, which could comprise telecoms companies, utility providers and engineering companies, to lead and deliver the project.

The new scheme forms part of the government’s £5bn Project Gigabit plan to level up broadband access in rural areas as well as the £1bn Shared Rural Network which will bring reliable 4G phone signals to many of the most isolated parts of the country.

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