San Francisco installs fiber optic cable in sewer lines

The sewer lines in San Francisco aren’t just for wastewater anymore. In a joint pilot project between the city and CableRunner North America, two miles of fiber optic Internet/communications cable will be placed in the underground sewer lines to connect hard-to-reach city facilities with E-Net, the city-owned public safety network. The project is scheduled to begin this month.

CableRunner, a fiber optic company owned by the city of Vienna, Austria, offered to provide San Francisco with the cable to demonstrate how the technology works. Instead of installing the wire in a conventional, conduit method, the company installs the fiber in the sewer lines using a combination of manpower and robotics.

In the San Francisco project, the company will install 50 percent of the wire through man-accessible sewer pipes using a two-man crew mounting vehicle. The remaining wire will be installed in non-accessible pipes, which range from 12 to 24 inches in diameter, by CableRunner’s FiberCop robotics. The robot will navigate the pipes and perform the infrastructure installation.

“San Francisco has always been a technology leader,” said Mayor Willie Brown. “This pilot project is a great opportunity for us to continue as one of the most wired cities in the nation.”

Other pilot projects recently performed by CableRunner include wiring 25 kilometers in Zagreb, Croatia, as well as large parts of Vienna and Salzburg, Austria.