Broadband hits the gutter in Bengaluru

Broadband hits the gutter in Bengaluru

The pipeline used by an Internet service provider seen inside a manhole in Hanumagiri Layout in Padmanabhanagar in Bengaluru.

After the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) tightened the screws on overhead optical fibre cables (OFC), service providers have found another illegal way to connect Bengalureans to Internet: sewage line network.

The revelation came when Bangalore Water Supply and Sewarage Board (BWSSB) workers were unclogging sewage drains in Padmanabhanagar. Officials were stumped after they realised that the cables blocking the flow of sewage did not end up in the network by accident but were part of a deliberate design.

After the BBMP said no to overhead OFC cables, private firms switched over to trench-less technology to lay the pipes for fibre net wire. The technology allows the firms to lay cables without requiring to dig trenches on the road. On the flip side, the horizontal drilling leads to trespassing into BWSSB pipes.

While Internet service providers see sewage network as the best shortcut, the board is facing a new challenge. Officials say they come to know about the trespass only when there is a blockage in the drain or an overflow of manhole.

Trench-less tech

“The firms should take permission from the BBMP before such works. Even we abide by this rule. The use of trench-less technology makes it difficult for us to find out. Such cases are abound in areas with narrow lanes,” BWSSB engineer in chief Kemparamaiah said.

The BWSSB has seen such cases in Padmanabhanagar, Chikkakalasandra, Srirampura, Hanumanth Nagar and Rajajinagar. On Thursday, the board booked a private firm for using its sewage line to provide Internet connection in Hanumagiri Layout, near Chikkakalasandra.

Kemparamaiah said the board has told jurisdictional engineers to book the offenders. “The wires will be removed. There are many private Internet service providers in the city and sometimes it’s not clear who the trespasser is. We can book them only if the company authorities voluntarily turn up.”

An official said they come across two to three cases every day where OFCs are passing through sewage pipes.

The BWSSB is keeping an eye on narrow roads, especially those less than 20-foot wide where water pipes, sanitary pipes, electric pipes along with BSNL phone connections have virtually taken the entire space. Since there is no room for OFCs, firms deliberately look for sanitary pipe network for easy access.