Fiber Construction Overview

Construction of a fiber optic network is a complex and lengthy process.  Numerous contractors are involved and the entire process can take six to 12 months to complete, depending upon the length of the circuit, the terrain and soils, weather and other external factors.  The following discussion covers the phases of construction along overhead and underground distribution lines. 

You can see each step below:

OVERHEAD

1. Field Data Collection

After an in-house design of the fiber build, field engineers go to each pole to determine if any modifications are required in order to support the fiber and its associated steel strand. 

2. Make-Ready Engineering

Engineers create construction prints showing where to move items at the pole to create more space, as well as where poles need to be changed out to add height or strength. During this time, inspectors will “ride out” the build to ensure all pre-registered locations will be included in the fiber build. This phase can take two to four weeks.

3. Make-Ready Construction

Line crews will change poles, move transformers from one side of the pole to another, move wires on the pole, add new anchors to the poles, and perform other work to allow the fiber to be placed later. The make ready construction phase can take four to twelve weeks depending on the size of the service area.

4. Fiber Construction

Fiber crews place steel strand from pole to pole, and return to place the fiber optic cable against the steel strand. A lashing machine is used to secure the fiber to the strand. Fiber construction can take four to eight weeks.

5. Mainline Splicing

Once the fiber is placed, splices will be made to the necessary cables at each point and placed in a secure enclosure that is mounted to the distribution pole. The splicing work can take another three to six weeks for the main lines.

6. Service Drop Construction

The next step is service drop construction. This work can be done in parallel with some of the earlier work, or it might be done after the main line fiber is in place. The drop crews extend the fiber from the nearest splice point on the main line to the pre-registered home or business and leave coils of fiber on the pole and on the structure.

7. Drop Splicing

After the service drop is constructed, splices will be made from the main line fiber to the pre-registered home or business. The drop splicing work can take a minimum of two to four weeks.

8. Installation

Once the service drop to the pre-registered home or business has been constructed and spliced, Firefly equipment will be placed on the side of the home or building. It is now time to schedule installation. A Firefly customer service representative will reach out via email and phone to schedule the installation.

UNDERGROUND

1. Field Data Collection

After an in-house design of the fiber build, field engineers visit the work site to determine if any modifications are required to support the fiber construction.

2. Engineering

Engineers create construction prints showing where conduit and fiber will be placed underground. During this time, inspectors will “ride out” the build to ensure all pre-registered locations will be included in the fiber build. This phase can take two to four weeks.

3. Fiber Construction

A Firefly contractor will pull fiber through the orange conduit that was installed in the ground adjacent to the power line. In many cases, the fiber path is along public rights of way. 

4. Mainline Splicing

Once the fiber is placed, splices will be made to the necessary cables at each point and placed in an underground pedestal. The splicing work can take another three to six weeks for the main lines.

5. Service Drop Construction

The next step is service drop construction. This work can be done in parallel with some of the earlier work, or it might be done after the main line fiber is in place. The drop crews extend the fiber underground from the pedestal to the pre-registered home or business and leave coils on the structure.

6. Drop Splicing

After the service drop is constructed, splices will be made from the main line fiber to the pre-registered home or business. The drop splicing work can take a minimum of two to four weeks.

7. Installation

Once the service drop to the pre-registered home or business has been constructed and spliced, Firefly equipment will be placed on the side of the home or building. It is now time to schedule installation. A Firefly customer service representative will reach out via email and phone to schedule the installation.

811 Locate Information

811 locates are called and public/utility lines will be marked or cleared before an underground drop is placed. It is up to the property owner to locate private utilities like irrigation systems, invisible dog fences, propane lines, private well, private sewer, water lines and sewer lines from the road to the home, etc.

Buried drops are placed 12-18” deep using a walk behind vibratory plow and most times no reseeding is needed.

If reseeding is needed the drop crew will take care of that as part of the drop placement.  In cases where a paved driveway needs to be crossed a boring machine will be used for that section only.