CityNet Telecommunications Inc. launched a last-mile fiber optic network through Indianapolis' existing sewers. The company is using its Sewer Access Module robot to hook the system up.

Under the agreement, CityNet will install the in-sewer system, monitor the sewers' condition after installation and pay the city 2.5 percent of gross revenues from leasing the fiber optic cables to customers.

A caveat: CityNet also must regularly clean the sewers and perform any maintenance on the sewers it uses.

In an inaugural ceremony, the company and Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson lowered the robot into the sewers via a manhole. The robot is equipped with video cameras that the company's technical people use to navigate the sewers.

CityNet uses the 6-inch-wide, 36-inch-long, cylindrical robots to install the fiber optic cable in smaller sewers, whereas its employees do the installations in larger sewers.

SAM, the robot, first installs stainless steel clamps, which support a special conduit and the actual cable inside the sewer pipes. The conduit encases the fiber and is made of the same stainless steel alloy that protects the fiber from corrosion and cuts, CityNet says.

The company also has deployed the in-sewer systems in Albuquerque and Omaha, and has agreements for systems in Scottsdale, St. Paul and Fort Worth, and in Vienna, Austria. Another 25 cities are negotiating, the company says.