New York Lays Cable With Surgical Precision - InformationWeek
Government // Open Government
05:38 PM

New York Lays Cable With Surgical Precision

Narrow "micro" trenches disrupt streets less so it's easier to lay fiber-optic cables for broadband services.

New York's 32-Story Data 'Fortress'
New York's 32-Story Data 'Fortress'
(click image for slideshow)
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.

[ Will Google give more New York neighborhoods free Wi-Fi? Read Google Brings Free Wi-Fi To New York. ]

"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.

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User Rank: Apprentice
4/22/2013 | 1:51:13 AM
re: New York Lays Cable With Surgical Precision
This sound like a great solution, but is it a long-term solution? How deep are the trenches that are being referred to? Anyone that has spent a year in New York will tell you that the weather goes form extreme to extreme, are these cables going to stand the test of time. I am curious to see how the pilot goes and will be in shock if the government agencies donG«÷t support this move. Smart on behalf of Verizon by providing those agencies with free service which I am sure wont hurt their outcome.

Paul Sprague
InformationWeek Contributor
User Rank: Ninja
4/6/2013 | 1:45:28 PM
re: New York Lays Cable With Surgical Precision
Do I assume right you are talking about New York City? You need to be more specific as "New York" means the state. And aside from NYC and maybe a few other downtown areas fiber optic cable is nailed to poles across New York. That means the lines are exposed to wind and weather, falling branches, and the garbage trucks backing into the poles. Yes, microtrenches are the way to go, but for most of the fiber network the same installation is used as for the telegraph lines 100 years ago with all its disadvantages. The only benefit of that approach is that it is dirt cheap.
John Foley
John Foley,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/4/2013 | 10:02:04 PM
re: New York Lays Cable With Surgical Precision
Wait a minute. You mean to tell me that for all of these years, cable companies didn't really need all of the backhoes, jack hammers, flag men, orange cones, road pavers, and steam rollers? That a fine instrument and careful touch can do the same job faster, more cheaply, and without the risk to water mains and gas lines? Forget the pilot program; this should be standard practice.
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