Who owns a strip of land that runs all the way from London through Birmingham to Manchester? Why, the Canal and River Trust does (this is what was British Waterways is now called) They own the towpath (and the waterway, of course) and they took advantage of this ten years or so ago when they installed a fibre optic network along the major routes, thus providing a high-tech high-speed network. This network is used today by many carriers.
I found it difficult to locate any detailed information about this network until I found a detailed map – you can see it here. If you are familiar with the routes of the Grand Union canal from London to Birmingham, you’ll recognise it on this map. Altogether there is over 650km of fibre optics are buried along the towpaths. This is on a rather different scale from yesterday nanophotonics but the technology is substantially the same!