Construction of a fiber optic network is a complex and lengthy process. Numerous contractors are required, and the entire process can take six to 12 months to complete, depending upon the length of the circuit, the terrain, soil types, presence of rock, weather, availability of materials and other external factors. Most MEC distribution lines are a mix of overhead and underground construction. The following discussion covers the steps of fiber construction along overhead distribution lines. Please see each step below:
Step 1: Make Ready Engineering and Line Construction
After our engineers create the basic fiber line design, field stakers go to each pole to determine what modifications are required to support the fiber and meet clearance requirements of the National Electric Safety Code (NESC). Line crews will install taller poles, move transformers from one side of the pole to the other, move wires on the pole, add new guy wires and anchors to the poles all to prepare for future ﬁber installation. In addition to creating the design, the next steps include obtaining VDOT and/or Railroad permits, staking, coordinating with Miss Utility, finalizing ROW easements, and procuring material … all of these must be done before fiber construction can begin. This work has the widest variance in time of all construction phases. The make ready construction phase can take five months or more to complete.
Step 2: Fiber Construction
The construction team will string fiber pole to pole or bury fiber cables underground to connect your neighborhood to our fiber network. This process can take up to another three months. You may see us digging holes and plowing in fiber during this stage. When we’re done, we will return all green spaces to the way we found them. Fiber construction in this step can take four to eight weeks on each line.
Step 3: Splicing
Once the ﬁber cable is installed, a technician will splice all fiber at each cable end and tap point. They will splice the necessary cables and mount the splices in enclosures secured to distribution poles or in pedestals. This splicing work can take another three to six weeks for main lines.
Step 4: Service Drop Construction
The next step is service drop cable installation. 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. Drop crews will extend ﬁber from the nearest main line splice point to the structure receiving service. This crew will also leave coils of ﬁber at the main line and the structure.
Step 5: Drop Splicing
The ﬁnal outdoor step of ﬁber drop construction is the splicing of the drop. The splice technician connects the last length of ﬁber at the tap point and mounts a network interface device (NID) at the structure with the ﬁnal splice being made inside the NID box. The service is now ready to turn over to EMPOWER Broadband for scheduling in-home installation.
As you can see, there will be multiple and different crews with numerous vehicles passing with each step over those several months before the service is ready for final installation.