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Underground Fiber Optic Cable Installation Done Right

We talk a lot about trenching in the Louisiana marsh to lay pipelines for oil and gas companies. But did you know that Stan’s Airboat & Marsh Excavator Service can also help utilities and telecommunications companies lay fiber-optic cable in wetlands environments?

Fiber optic networks are carefully constructed and built out to service communities here on the Gulf Coast and all over America. At the basic level, fiber-optic cable consists of strands of glass fibers inside an insulated casing.

It just so happens they’re great for long-distance, high-performance data networking and telecommunications and have all but replaced copper and other electrical transmission lines in the last few decades because they provide higher bandwidth and can transmit data over longer distances.

It’s no stretch to say these glass-fiber cables revolutionized telecommunications and even made the Information Age possible. In 2018, fiber optic cables support much of the world’s internet, cable television and telephone systems. You probably wouldn’t be reading this article without them.

But somebody’s gotta put them in the ground. And that’s where Stan’s comes in.

Note: To be entirely accurate … One way to install outdoor fiber optic cable is to put it overhead. Pole line/aerial installation means suspending the lines from pylons or poles or even mounting them on buildings. But burying cables underground (or placing them into a buried duct) is the other, preferred method.

Here are a few common ways to install underground fiber-optic cable:

  • Underground duct installation – Fiber optic cables can be pulled through ducts, which protect the cables once they are buried. “Cable-jetting” is one way of installing the fiber optic cable is in the conduit via high-pressure air (the other would be simply pulling the line through);
  • Direct buried cable construction – Cable is installed directly into the ground instead of in protective pipelines/ducts;
  • Micro-trenching – Fiber optic cable is installed in pavement by way of a small groove in a street, sidewalk or parking lot. (Since we bury cable in the marsh, this isn’t something we do here at Stan’s.)

When we’re trenching in the marsh to lay fiber optic cables, we handle the cables in compliance with their stated design ratings to prevent damage during installation. Underground cable installation factors also include construction costs, time constraints, existing infrastructure and federal/state/local guidelines.

First, we perform a site survey and route analysis to evaluate soil content and identify all obstacles and water crossings. Regulations may require an Environmental Impact Study of the areas where we’ll be trenching. The next step in the process is to procure permits/licenses for all rights-of-way.

Generally, when we’re trenching for the fiber-optic line, we have to keep the trench as straight as possible (the utility companies have to observe what is called the “minimum bend radius” of the cable). The utilities also have to ground steel-armored cables and put the appropriate warning labels directly above the cable to alert people to the right of way.

How deep do these trenches need to be? Usually, they’re 12-36 inches below the surface. Up north, fiber cables have to go deeper than the frost line to prevent damage—that’s not a big consideration for us here in Louisiana, however.

When it’s time for your next trenching project, choose a company that can complete utility infrastructure projects on time and within budget. That’s Stan’s Airboat and Marsh Excavator Service. We have the experience and equipment to execute any job successfully and to your total satisfaction.

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