As the need for super-fast broadband becomes increasingly evident, technology chiefs are looking for inspiration in seemingly unusual places.
Speaking at Google's recent Big Tent event, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said London's sewage system should provide inspiration for the UK's broadband network, reports Wired magazine.
He explained that following the 'Big Stink' in the 1850s, engineer Joseph Bazalgette was tasked with deciding how wide the pipes for a new sewage system should be, and opted to see how wide the pipes needed to be in the busiest part of the capital. He then doubled this width, and used the same size pipes all the way across the city.
This ensured that as the city expanded, the pipes could cope with a growing number of people, in much the same way today's broadband network needs to be developed with the future in mind.
Mr Hunt said that the key to developing a super-fast broadband network is to 'futureproof' it, so that it can facilitate economic growth for years to come. He added that if the UK wants to be a global force then businesses need access to much faster broadband speeds.
"Why are we planning for a one gigabit future? We don't know what the future will hold but we do know that there will be a massive need for speed," he said.
Mr Hunt's comments come after he announced ambitious plans for 90 per cent of the UK to have access to super-fast broadband by 2015, with 100 per cent of the country having access to speeds of 2Mb within this timeframe.
In order to help meet this target, the government's super-fast broadband fund has been increased from £230 million to £830 million, highlighting how important the issue is at a time of austerity.