Narrow "micro" trenches disrupt streets less so it's easier to lay fiber-optic cables for broadband services.
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New York is testing a way to lay more fiber-optic cable for broadband services without tearing up streets and disrupting traffic.
Verizon, the city's partner in the initiative, will use a technique called micro trenching to dig narrow, shallow channels between sidewalks and street curbs, just large enough to accommodate conduits and fiber cable. A Verizon official said the technique, typically used in suburban and rural areas, holds promise as a way to expand broadband capacity in urban areas.
The 12-month pilot, based on an agreement between Verizon and the city's Department of Transportation and Department of IT and Telecommunications, is intended to test the feasibility of micro trenching fiber cable throughout the city. Verizon will install cabling at sites in each of the city's boroughs, including on Broadway in Manhattan.
City agencies and other communications providers will be allowed to use the excess capacity provided by the new cabling for free during the pilot period. When the trial is over, Verizon will charge an annual occupancy fee for them to continue using the fiber-optic lines.
"This pilot will not only connect more New Yorkers faster, it will enable small broadband providers to take advantage of the infrastructure Verizon is putting in place," said Cas Holloway, deputy mayor for operations, in a statement.
CIO Rahul Merchant and other city officials characterized the initiative as a way of supporting New York's emergence as a global tech center, with minimal disruption or damage to its busy neighborhoods and roadways. "Internet connectivity is the foundation of a truly digital city," said chief digital officer Rachel Haot.
The pilot is one in a series of initiatives undertaken by the city to improve broadband access for residents and businesses, including a competition to build out a fiber-optic network for commercial and industrial buildings, streamlining broadband-related permitting, and turning public pay phones into Wi-Fi hotspots.
The city recently renewed its cable television agreements with Time Warner Cable and Cablevision, and included the addition of 20 miles per year of new fiber-optic wiring through mid-2020.