Preparing Utility Workers for Rapid Fiber Growth

Learn more about the technology that exists to help support the deployment of underground fiber installation

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Preparing Utility Workers for Rapid Fiber Growth

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In North America alone, fiber connections to the home hit record growth between 2014 and 2016 – and demand for quicker data delivery shows no sign of slowing down. Planning for new developments and nonresidential facilities will require fiber connectivity to push the potential growth of this market far into the future.

Effective and efficient technology plays a large role when deploying cable across diverse terrains from rural to urban environments.

Tackling rough and rural landscapes
Fiber-optic cable is largely distributed underground in a protective conduit. Starting from a central location, the fiber network includes long-haul routes between cities and towns, backbone fiber lines, and shared miles of fiber that multiple individual properties use when connecting to the backbone.

Although equipment sizes vary on the application and environment, plowing and horizontal directional drilling are common on these long-haul and backbone job sites. The appropriate machine largely depends on surface and soil conditions.

When a long-haul job site has few surface and underground obstructions, plows are often preferred. This method is usually the most efficient way for placing long-haul conduit in the ground in varied terrain. Job sites that include rough terrain, wooded areas, water crossings or other areas where plows cannot operate are best suited for directional drills. The units can help meet a project’s timeline by providing the capability to bore under such obstacles.

The compact, last mile
Though plows and directional drills remain popular when connecting a shared fiber line to an individual premise, urban environments create unique issues for utility contractors. Utility placement beneath city streets is more congested. These areas are often more compact, making equipment size an important factor in residential fiber drop-work.

Utility contractors are increasingly turning to microtrenchers for fiber jobs in these congested urban environments, where a less-disruptive method of installation is required. Microtrenching is now a leading, cost-effective solution for installing fiber-optic cable along paved rights-of-way. Unlike traditional installation methods, microtrenching cuts a narrow, shallower trench – deep enough to get under the upper layer of solid ground, but shallow enough not to interfere with existing utilities.

Vibratory lawn plows are also a more common piece of equipment used on residential fiber jobs. These compact machines provide low ground pressure, minimizing ground disruption to homeowner lawns.

Several solutions exist to help utility contractors deploy fiber from its source to the cities and towns that require connectivity. The Ditch Witch organization provides the most dedicated suite of solutions to support the deployment of underground fiber installation, from directional drills and large plows to vibratory plows and microtrenchers.

For more information on Ditch Witch fiber solutions, please visit


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