SAN DIEGO, Jan. 22, 2003 — Sempra Fiber Links, a unit of Sempra Energy, announced Wednesday it has received notification from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office indicating the technology that provides for the safe, efficient installation of fiber-optic cable within active natural gas pipelines has been approved for patent protection.
The fiber-in-gas (FIGSM) technology, which has been successfully demonstrated in the United States and abroad, avoids expensive trenching and other more intrusive, conventional methods involved in the installation of fiber-optic telecommunications networks. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is expected to officially issue the patent for the technology to Sempra Fiber Links next month.
Sempra Fiber Links, which operates under Sempra Energy Global Enterprises, the umbrella for Sempra Energy’s growth businesses, builds fiber-optic networks for telecommunications companies by utilizing the distribution infrastructure of natural gas utilities. Sempra Energy is a Fortune 500 company.
“This patent represents a substantial milestone for Sempra Fiber Links and proves the innovative nature and practical viability of our process,” said Michael Clover, president of Sempra Fiber Links. “Our past demonstrations in the United States and abroad further support the real world applications of this process. This patent allowance also gives Sempra Fiber Links the business edge to offer this exclusive fiber-optic installation process to natural gas utilities and telecommunications companies across the nation.”
“The FIGSM process is less costly than standard fiber-optic installation methods in most urban applications,” Clover added. “It also has little impact on the day-to-day lives of people working and living in cities because streets do not have to be trenched, nor natural gas service interrupted during the installation.”
The practical application of the FIGSM process has been demonstrated at a Gas Technology Institute-coordinated project in Ft. Worth, Texas, and within Frontier Energy’s gas distribution pipelines in North Wilkesboro, N.C. Other U.S. installations and demonstrations in both urban and residential areas will take place later this year. Utilities in South America, Asia and Europe also have expressed an interest in using the technology to expand their fiber-optic networks.
“Besides being faster, less expensive and less disruptive than standard fiber-optic cable installation methods, the process is safe, because the conduit containing the cable is inserted into existing natural gas pipelines that businesses and residents already are using,” said Scott Beals, lead inventor of the technology and vice president, Sempra Fiber Links.
Additional information on Sempra Fiber Links and FIGSM technology is available in English, Italian, Japanese or French on the company’s Web site at www.semprafiberlinks.com.
Sempra Energy, based in San Diego, is a Fortune 500 energy services holding company with 2001 revenues of $8 billion. The Sempra Energy companies’ nearly 12,000 employees serve more than 9 million customers in the United States, Europe, Canada, Mexico, South America and Asia.
Sempra Fiber Links is not the same company as the utilities SDG&E and SoCalGas, and is not regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission.