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Compressed air could help bridge digital divide

The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind

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BT is looking to wire up remote areas with broadband services by blowing fibre optic cables between existing telephone poles.

The lightweight cables - no thicker than a human hair - can be used to provide a high speed private circuit to businesses in rural areas.

What's different, is that BT is using a lightweight tube through which up to four fibres, bundled together, are blown at high speed using compressed air.

Since this "droptube" is much lighter and thinner than a standard overhead optical fibre cable, the telco should be able run the cables using existing telephone poles without having to strengthen them or install new ones.

Such a move could help reduce the cost of make bringing high-speed connections to rural areas.

The service is currently being trialled in an exposed part of Pembrokeshire, Wales, where engineers will be able to test whether the "droptube" can survive harsh, windy conditions. ®

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