Overcoming Roadblocks in Fiber Installations


Overcoming Roadblocks in Fiber Installations

Many of the telecommunication cables in the U.S. are buried in ducts or conduits that can be several decades old. Many of these ducts have collapsed or have blockages, which can significantly increase installation time and costs to any fiber cabling project and result in potentially unused spare capacity.

What is a Telecom Duct?

Achieving the goal of connectivity without gaps in time or space requires a multi-layer approach for enterprises. A comprehensive wireless strategy consists of four pillars:

  • Wi-Fi
  • Public cellular coverage
  • Private cellular coverage
  • Low-power sensor networks

Planning for each of these four elements, enterprises can build a robust connectivity core that is both manageable and scalable for the future.

Roadblocks Can Impact a Fiber Project

With the rapidly evolving need for more bandwidth in the telecommunication industry, many service providers are finding the need to reinforce parts of their fiber backbone because they are nearing capacity.

A large telecommunications company working on a fiber backbone project in Wisconsin encountered that exact problem. When they initially tried to remove the existing cable, they found that the ducts collapsed on top of it. This meant they were looking at additional costs and time for the project: required digging, road closures, and permitting.

At least one section along this route was impacted by a seven-year road moratorium issued by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WISDOT). What does this mean to the project? Since this particular road was resurfaced two years prior, if any excavation were needed the road would require a seam-to-seam restoration plan. This adds a substantial expense to the project and requires additional approvals and permits, which can result in an extended timeline.

Another roadblock to this project involved a railroad crossing, adding additional permitting and approvals from railroad authorities.

To make matters worse, there was a major grade change along the route for the fiber, which could have a negative impact on setting up equipment for a new bore.

At this point, they were looking at two alternatives to this project.

  1. Roll the working fiber into other working fibers and then try to remove the cable.
  2. Place a brand-new path between each of the six manholes on this project.

Neither scenario was ideal.

Barrier Buster

These roadblocks meant the telecommunications company needed to step back and evaluate a plan that made sense in terms of cost-effectiveness, damage prevention, and timeframe.

The Senior Specialist OSP Design Engineer on the project recalled seeing a product demonstration about the MaxCell® flexible fabric innerduct solution. She knew it had already been utilized in some of their regional installations.

One of her engineering counterparts had been tasked with a project with similar duct issues. For that project, they would be using another MaxCell product called MaxSpace®. The MaxSpace no-dig conduit space recovery solution is designed to safely remove rigid innerducts from around active fiber cable with little to no load on the cable and no interruption of service. She could watch the live field installation where MaxSpace was being used on that project. After witnessing MaxSpace in action, she realized that it could potentially solve their problems.


Maxcell's MaxSpace®

Construction Without Disruption

MaxSpace would be a perfect fit to move the project forward without delays or added costs. Why? It could recover conduit space by removing rigid innerduct from an active network cable without service interruption and protect active cables throughout the process by a split metal collar. MaxSpace has the ability to remove the rigid innerduct because incumbent cables settle to the bottom of the conduit while installing MaxCell packs simultaneously. The extracted innerduct is then chipped and ready for easy recycling and disposal. You’re then ready to install new cables as needed.

Just Say No

By utilizing the MaxSpace conduit space recovery solution the roadblocks that were stalling this project were eliminated, including:

At this point, they were looking at two alternatives to this project.

  • No Right-of-Way issues
  • No trenching permits required
  • No property restoration costs from trenching or boring
  • No new trenches
  • No engineering or additional project costs
  • No new conduit


Increasing space and capacity, this new plan to utilize the MaxSpace service and backfill with MaxCell’s flexible fabric innerduct solution meant that all systems were a go, and they could move forward with their fiber backbone project. They were able to extract 3,099 feet of duct and install MaxCell simultaneously. Even more impactful – the project that had been in a holding pattern for 18 months was successfully completed in one business day.

Even more impactful – the project that had been in a holding pattern for 18 months was successfully completed in one business day.

Benefits to their network included:

  • Recovery of up to 90% of conduit space
  • Add up to nine new cables
  • No disruption to service
  • Safer than trenching or boring around current infrastructure

Let’s Talk About MaxCell

The flexible fabric innerduct solution from MaxCell, used in this project, was specifically designed to maximize the capacity of conduits in network construction and allow for easy pathway creation when overriding existing cabling or traditional innerduct. Other benefits of this MaxCell product include offering solutions for a range of cable sizes, enabling the overlay of cables in occupied conduits, and reducing or eliminating the number of conduits in new construction.

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Do you have roadblocks or challenges with a fiber installation?

See how MaxSpace and MaxCell can make your project successful.


This article was brought to you in partnership with Maxcell
MaxCell® is revolutionizing the network construction industry with flexible, fabric innerduct solutions. MaxCell's innovative designs speed installation and reduce total system costs by allowing for easy pathway creation within existing cabling or traditional innerduct.


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