Fibreway opens new trade on canals

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The Independent Online
GPT, the telecommunications equipment company owned by GEC and Siemens, is launching a nationwide telephone network in partnership with the state-owned British Waterways, writes Mary Fagan.

The venture, Fibreway, will install fibre-optic cables under the towpaths that run alongside the nation's 2,000-mile network of canals. Telephone service operators, including cable television companies and regional electricity firms, will be able to use the network to deliver calls but Fibreway has no plans to become a public telephone operator in its own right.

The first cable link is being laid along the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals between Edinburgh and Glasgow and will be ready for use in April. Gerry Boothroyd, a director of Fibreway, said the extent of the network and the speed of installation will depend the level of demand.

'Fibreway will be creating the opportunity for network operators to acquire the capacity they want, when they want it, without carrying the burden of high upfront infrastructure costs,' Mr Boothroyd said. The network will be capable of carrying interactive and multimedia services including home banking and shopping.

Mr Boothroyd declined to say how much the project will cost but said the total investment was unlikely to exceed pounds 100m. He said that, where necessary, Fibreway would expand outside the canal sides to meet customers' needs.

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