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Photos: Broadband in London's Victorian sewers

You won't believe where they've laid a cable...
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1 of 11 Steve Ranger/ZDNET

You won't believe where they've laid a cable...

silicon.com took a trip out to the east end of London, to the Thames Water depot near Stratford, for a rare trip down inside London's Victorian sewer network to see a much more high-tech network which it is now hosting - Geo's business broadband network. Here silicon.com editor Steve Ranger dons protective gear and gets ready to go underground.

Photo credit: silicon.com

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2 of 11 Steve Ranger/ZDNET

This sewer is a masterpiece of Victorian engineering - part of a giant project aimed at reducing the foul smells in the city and reducing the incidence of cholera - as reflected by this plaque. It still performs a vital role today.

Photo credit: Steve Ranger

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3 of 11 Steve Ranger/ZDNET

The view of the sewer from the ground above.

Photo credit: Steve Ranger

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Visitors make their descent into the sewer network…

Photo credit: Steve Ranger

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And the view from beneath. The broadband ducts are just visible in the top left of the picture.

It really doesn't smell that bad, either.

Photo credit: Steve Ranger

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6 of 11 Steve Ranger/ZDNET

This is part of the Northern Outfall Sewer, designed by Joseph Bazalgette and built in 1862-3. It's one of London's six main interceptory sewers which run for almost 100 miles in total. The sewer flow is about knee height, though it can go much higher.

Photo credit: Steve Ranger

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7 of 11 Steve Ranger/ZDNET

Geo bought its London sewer network from Thames Water and National Grid in 2006. It's the only network to run through London's sewer system, two metres below normal duct level, which the company reckons makes it highly secure and reliable - and less susceptible to workmen putting a pickaxe through it. You can see the cables at the top of the shaft.

Photo credit: Steve Ranger

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8 of 11 Steve Ranger/ZDNET

The network - offering between 1 and 10Gbps - is for business customers. Geo recently announced further extension of its fibre network, connecting into a major data centre on London's South Bank. And Icelandic Telco provider Siminn uses the network to provide a dedicated fibre connection between its two London data centres.

Photo credit: Steve Ranger

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9 of 11 Steve Ranger/ZDNET

The fibre runs through these cable ducts - which are too wide for rats to get its teeth around, so no danger of outages caused by hungry vermin.

Photo credit: Steve Ranger

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10 of 11 Steve Ranger/ZDNET

Back to daylight.

Photo credit: Steve Ranger

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11 of 11 Steve Ranger/ZDNET

Leaving the sewer in darkness again...

Photo credit: Steve Ranger

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