Light Reading
A feisty group of suppliers are boring deep into city sewers in an effort to wire up the last mile **UPDATED 11/22 2:00 PM**

Sewer Robots Prepare for Battle

Light Reading
News Analysis
Light Reading
11/21/2002
50%
50%

Ever think the last mile could end in your bathroom?

A small but determined group of companies say that stringing fiber through city sewers is the answer to high-speed access. And they're vying for contracts based on their methods of running cable where none (or, depending on your viewpoint, many) have gone before.

At least three companies, CableRunner North America LLC, Ca-botics Fiber Systems, and CityNet Telecommunications Inc., say they can do the best job of helping service providers, cities, utilities, and other interested parties plant fiber infrastructure while avoiding the disruption and high cost involved in pulling up the pavement.

CityNet, which started out billing itself as a service provider two years ago (see Startup to Pipe $275M Into Sewer), lists CableRunner as a business partner on its Website; and the two cofounded a sewer-fiber training center in Boca Raton.

CableRunner started as a subsidiary of the municipality of Vienna, Austria. Its main stock in trade is the technology it's used in various European projects, especially Vienna.

Ca-botics, like CableRunner, is predominantly a technology company, offering services based on its own brand of robotic sewer-boring hardware. CityNet has evaluated Ca-botics services, but nothing's come of it yet.

Despite past relationships and knowledge of each other's wares and services, shrinking budgets and higher stakes in the local access market have sharpened competitive edges among all three companies in recent months. Central to the argument is how best to run fiber cable through city sewers, clearly a specialty not mastered by many other firms.

For its part, CityNet claims to use a variety of approaches to getting the cable installed, although it relies mainly on a specialized robot called SAM (short for Sewer Access Module) that's made by Ka-Te System AG, a Zurich-based vendor. SAM puts rings into pipes, then runs conduit and cable via those rings. The advantage of SAM, CityNet says, is that SAM can enter sewers that can't be accessed by humans. Once it's installed the fiber, it can be used to maintain and troubleshoot the cable as well. SAM can be used in a range of irregularly shaped pipes measuring as small as eight inches.

Ca-botics contends its technique, called STAR (Sewer Telecommunication Access by Robot), is faster than ring-based approaches like CityNet's and can work in smaller pipes. STAR works by embedding small hooks or anchors into the pipe, then threading specially designed cable through the pipeline.

CableRunner's approach involves a combination of techniques, including a robot that installs cable in a kind of tray laid into the pipe [ed. note: what? no cutesy acronym? KACK, maybe? HAL?]. CableRunner says this approach is superior to rings or anchors because it doesn't damage the pipe wall in the same way the other techniques do.

It's a bit early to evaluate these claims. It may be more interesting to watch how the various companies unfold in the real world. So far, progress seems slow.

CityNet, which has an alliance with Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) to supply fiber and termination units for its sewer installations, has completed a network in Albuquerque and has projects underway in Indianapolis and in Seville, Spain.

CableRunner has several European sewer networks to its credit. It also won contracting rights in Egypt this year.

Ca-botics has installed sewer networks in Dublin, Ohio, and in several Canadian cities, including Mississauga, Ontario. It has a joint supply agreement with OFS, which offers specially sheathed wares for use in sewers as part of Ca-botics' solution.

Each of these companies appears to have many irons in the fire -- plans underway with slow-moving municipalities and public utilities commissions worldwide. And while none has managed to take the industry by storm-sewer, each vendor has proven its ability to forge partnerships as needed to get work done. It will be interesting to see whether their attempts to exist without each other result in a larger or smaller market.

— Mary Jander, Senior Editor, Light Reading
www.lightreading.com

(21)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Page 1 / 3   >   >>
Ca-botics
50%
50%
Ca-botics,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:40:41 PM
re: Sewer Robots Prepare for Battle


greenbit,


ca-botics at the present is the only company still standing and operating. ca-botics technology is now  capable of laying upto 2400 ft of fiber optic cables per day, in just an 8 hour shift.




Ca-botics
50%
50%
Ca-botics,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:40:40 PM
re: Sewer Robots Prepare for Battle


FYI, ca-botics is still in business and has had success in several countries in the last decade, and on going negotiations are presently in process for canadian cities.

cyber_techy
50%
50%
cyber_techy,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 9:18:56 PM
re: Sewer Robots Prepare for Battle
You guys should sponsor a bakeoff test between these 3 sewer bots. David Neuman could create an obstacle course of sorts, complete w/large deposits of dootie they need to navigate over, around or through!
================================================

Atleast LR testers won't have to worry about what they eat before coming to work that day. The more they eat, the more scalable testing they can do :-)
stuartb
50%
50%
stuartb,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 9:18:56 PM
re: Sewer Robots Prepare for Battle
You guys should sponsor a bakeoff test between these 3 sewer bots. David Neuman could create an obstacle course of sorts, complete w/large deposits of dootie they need to navigate over, around or through!
beowulf888
50%
50%
beowulf888,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 9:18:55 PM
re: Sewer Robots Prepare for Battle
I'm more worried about what the Roto-Rooter man will do my fiber link!

I assume that they'd pull the fiber out of the sewer pipe befor it gets to a subscriber's premises.

--Beo
thecornercube
50%
50%
thecornercube,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 9:18:51 PM
re: Sewer Robots Prepare for Battle
I'd be worried about getting a crappy connection....:)
douggreen
50%
50%
douggreen,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 9:18:50 PM
re: Sewer Robots Prepare for Battle
I did some consulting in this business and learned more about sewers than I care to admit. I suppose you could say that I got an earfull of sewage.

I don't understand the statement by CityNet that the rings can be installed in irregular pipe, unless they mean pipes that change size. The rings they use depend on contact friction with the sides of the pipes to hold them in place. If the pipes aren't round, the holding power will be compromised.

Someone asked about how the fiber gets into the building. Sometimes it just gets to the nearest manhole, then through a short drilled pipe. If they can get the robots into 4 inch pipes like CA-botics claims, they can run them right into the building and have the fiber exit in the cleanout opening....Or I guess you could run in right into your toilet if you like?

Regarding benchmarks, I would like to see LightReading ask each vendor to give some actual installation times that can be verified.

lightFleeting
50%
50%
lightFleeting,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 9:18:49 PM
re: Sewer Robots Prepare for Battle
I asked CityNet this same question a couple of years ago. They have another device they send in to do the cleanout. So if it needs cleaning you call them. The next question would be if they go belly-up, who takes care of this stuff? The fiber is supported by a carrier that they insert into the pipe. Sending in a normal cleanout machine would really mess up everything.
fon_guy
50%
50%
fon_guy,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 9:18:47 PM
re: Sewer Robots Prepare for Battle
Fiber to the toilet gives new meaning to squatter's rights.
photon_mon
50%
50%
photon_mon,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 9:18:42 PM
re: Sewer Robots Prepare for Battle
Last pile could prove to be a bottleneck.
And I worry about unwelcome access to my ring.
Page 1 / 3   >   >>
Flash Poll
LRTV Custom TV
A New Security Paradigm in SDN/NFV

7|28|14   |   02:54   |   (0) comments


Paul Shaneck, Global Director Network Solutions for Symantec, discusses the evolving virtualized network, explaining how Symantec is leading the security discussion as it relates to SDN and NFV, and helping to ensure the network is protected and compliant.
LRTV Documentaries
Sprint's Network Evolution

7|24|14   |   14:59   |   (0) comments


Sprint's Jay Bluhm gives a keynote speech at the Big Telecom Event (BTE) about Sprint's network and services evolution strategy, including Spark.
LRTV Documentaries
BTE Keynote: The Software-Defined Operator

7|24|14   |   18:43   |   (1) comment


Deutsche Telekom's Axel Clauberg explains the concept of the software-defined operator to the Big Telecom Event (BTE) crowd.
Light Reedy
Numbers Are In: LR's 2014 Salary Survey

7|24|14   |   1:25   |   (7) comments


Our fourth annual Salary Survey paints a picture of who's hiring, firing, earning, and yearning for a change in the telecom industry.
LRTV Custom TV
Driving the Network Transformation

7|23|14   |   4:29   |   (0) comments


Intel's Sandra Rivera discusses network transformation and how Intel technologies, programs, and standards body efforts have helped the industry migration to SDN and NFV.
LRTV Custom TV
Distributed NFV-Based Business Services by RAD

7|18|14   |   5:38   |   (0) comments


With the ETSI-approved Distributed NFV PoC running in the background, RAD's CEO, Dror Bin, talks about why D-NFV makes compelling sense for service providers, and about the dollars and cents RAD is putting behind D-NFV.
LRTV Custom TV
MRV Accelerating Packet Optical Convergence

7|15|14   |   6:06   |   (0) comments


Giving you network insight to make your network smarter.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV-Enabled Ethernet for Generating New Revenues

7|15|14   |   5:49   |   (0) comments


Cyan's Planet Orchestrate allows service providers and their end-customers to activate software-based capabilities such as firewalls and encryption on top of existing Ethernet services in just minutes.
LRTV Custom TV
Symkloud NVF-Ready Video Transcoding, Big Data

7|9|14   |   3:41   |   (0) comments


Kontron and ISV partner Vantrix demonstrate high-performance video transcoding and data analytic solutions on same 2U standard platform that is ready for SDN and NFV deployments made by mobile, cable and cloud operators.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Evolving Role of Hybrid Video for Competitive Success

7|4|14   |   4:09   |   (0) comments


At Huawei's Global Analysts Summit in Shenzhen, China, Steven C. Hawley from TV Strategies speaks to us about the evolving role of hybrid video for competitive success.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
How CSPs Leverage Big Data in the Digital Economy

7|4|14   |   4:48   |   (2) comments


Justin van der Lande from Analysys Mason shares with us his views on how telecom operators can leverage customer asset monetization with big data. His discusses the current status of big data applications and the challenges and opportunities for telecom operators in the digital economy era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Accelerator for Digital Business Future Oriented BSS

7|4|14   |   3:08   |   (0) comments


Mobile and internet are becoming intertwined; IT and CT are integrating; and leading CSPs have begun to transform to information service and entertainment providers. How should the BSS system evolve to enable this transformation? Karl Whitelock, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan, shares his views.
Upcoming Live Events!!
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
Packet Design asks network professionals how they handle the cloud, SDN, and network management.
Today's Cartoon
Vacation Special Caption Competition Click Here
Latest Comment
Hot Topics
Cisco Puts a Fog Over IoT
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 7/23/2014
U-verse Growth Slips But Still Strong
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 7/24/2014
Is Windstream Boldly Setting a New Trend?
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 7/29/2014
Salary Survey Report 2014
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 7/23/2014
Facebook: 30% of Users Are Mobile-Only
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 7/24/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed