How come some cities install fiber internet 80% faster than others? – GeekWire

Ziply Fiber construction partners cut a narrow micro-trench in the street to clean up the road and allow neighborhood activities to continue uninterrupted (Photo by Josh Naugher)

Lake Stevens, Washington Mayor Brett Gailey heard loud and clear from his constituents that they want more choices when it comes to internet service providers in their city. And ideally what they wanted was fiber internet.

However, the U-shaped city surrounding a lake in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains with very few utility poles made it a classic “hard-to-serve” area, so Lake Stevens, just 36 miles from Seattle, didn’t even rank among the lakes. 100 most connected cities in the state.

The solution for Mayor Gailey and the residents of Lake Stevens was a partnership with Ziply Fiber to create an ultra-high-speed, 100 percent fiber-optic network that will bring fiber internet to more than 12,000 homes and businesses through an innovative construction technique. known as microtrenching… one that is about 80 percent faster than traditional construction.

Microtrenching has evolved dramatically over the years. The work, which previously involved large equipment and massive cleanups, has been upgraded to the point where crews can pass a single house in less than 15 minutes, leaving behind no construction debris and a road surface that retains the Northwest air. In addition, microtrenching results in fewer resident complaints.

After the fiber is laid in the microtrench, the cut is filled with concrete mortar that fills all voids and adds strength (Photo by Josh Naugher)

So why isn’t everyone using microtrenching to lay fiber lines? The answer depends on individual city regulations and permits, which are often more complicated than the actual microtrenching process.

But Mayor Gailey and the people of Lake Stevens were willing to give it a try. By keeping the permitting process simple and hassle-free, they may have created plans for hundreds of cities in the Northwest.

We’ve all been in the typical construction zone. Long waits. STOP/SLOW signs that slide back and forth. Great equipment. Huge holes. Roads destroyed for weeks. When this is the only option for fiber construction, only a few hundred feet of fiber per day can be laid due to wider and deeper drilling, stabilization, and additional repair and cleaning steps. construction efforts. Sometimes it’s inevitable.

However, when microtrenching is used, the entire process can take place within one business day with minimal disruption to traffic and daily life. Microtrenching makes it possible to install 2,000 to 3,000 feet of fiber per day, connecting entire neighborhoods in a matter of days.

How is this possible? Microtrenching is done with efficiency and speed in part because of how the crew works. Equipment is built like cars on a train to make construction easier. This is simply not possible with traditional construction.

Ziply Fiber construction partners seal the microtrench as the final step in the process (Photo by Josh Naugher)

Construction techniques also ensure efficiency. During microtrenching, Ziply Fiber’s construction partners will make 1-2 inch wide (hence the “micro”) cuts in the road to a depth of about 12-16 inches. It minimizes impacts on streets and municipal infrastructure, avoids most underground obstructions and existing utilities, and is deep enough not to conflict with future roadworks. Cuts are also typically placed 18 to 24 inches from the curb so that vehicles parked along the road are not parked directly over the closed area, further extending the life of the road. The surface disturbance is so slight that it can be traversed or traversed before construction is completed.

But a small cut does not mean limited fiber lines. Microtrenching paves the way for microchannels connecting multiple ultra-thin fiber lines, leaving plenty of room for more connections in the future as community use grows.

Where microtrenching is not possible, Ziply Fiber can work with cities to do aerial installation or overlay, where the new fiber is twisted into existing phone lines. But when trenching is required, micro-trenching should be considered as an alternative to traditional drilling and boring to increase speed and reduce complexity. City leaders who are serious about how they can help bridge the digital divide and increase economic benefits to their communities can follow the example of Lake Stevens and take a closer look at microtrenching to see if it is right for their business and their businesses. residents.

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