> FOCUS UNDER YOUR FEET
O’Connell uses prequalified subcontractors for underground work.
Rosendin Electric Inc., San Jose, Calif., one of the nation’s
largest specialty contractors, is involved in broadband network
construction and telecommunications design/build services.
“Most projects today require high-speed networks and
transmission over distance,” said Ron Wilson, director of engi-
neering. “Both of these capabilities almost always require fiber
optic cabling. As facilities are increasingly interconnected, most
projects require fiber. In addition, inside facilities can ride on
the same network backbone, so, increasingly, fiber is used.”
Rosendin routinely installs the outside plant, and Wilson
said the preference is to place it underground. Rosendin will
use open-trench installation whenever possible, but the com-
pany uses directional drilling in locations where the pathway
cannot be obstructed or the cost to close an area is excessive.
Cost and schedule generally drive the decision of which instal-
lation method is used.
On occasion, Rosendin uses subcontractors for outside
“The main factors in determining whether we self-perform or subcontract are availability of internal resources,
location of the project, project schedule and owner preferences,” Wilson said.
A recent project for a large tech company required burial
of network cable.
“The facility entrances were located internally to the
building, and the service provider had existing underground
facilities adjacent to the site,” Wilson said. “We extended the
fiber service underground to the cross-connect rooms. Once
inside, the backbone was extended between service rooms in
an overhead cable-tray system using an Innerduct system for
system separation and protection.”
As the Internet of Things becomes more ubiquitous, the
need for high-speed connections will increase.
“This, along with the sheer amount of data being transmitted, drives the need for faster networks both commercially and
residentially and means fiber to the desktop and services to
residences,” he said.
Commonwealth Electric and Communications Co. of the
Midwest, Lincoln, Neb., provides outside plant network construction for private companies, utilities and government
agencies, according to Chris Gall, communications manager,
who is based in Omaha, Neb.
“In addition, we have multiple RCDDs as well as a com-
plete electrical engineering department,” Gall said. “We have
a department that does installation of underground pathways,
and, at times, we subcontract this work depending on size,
scope of work or current availability of that workforce.”
The outside plant is installed underground.
“In recent memory, we have not done a new install of overhead cabling for outside plant distribution,” Gall said.
Commonwealth buries cable by trenching, vibratory plowing and horizontal directional drilling.
“The most popular is the directional drilling,” Gall said.
“This allows for a faster installation with less disruption to the
surrounding areas. The decision is based on location and speed
of installation. Metro areas want the install in the least amount
of time with the least disruptions to traffic and business.”
Commonwealth also has locations in Iowa and Arizona,
providing services in construction specialties of commercial,
industrial, institutional, communications, outside lighting, and
signals and service work.
Baker Electric Inc. in Des Moines, Iowa, recently completed
a yearlong project that included installing 220,000 feet of 1-inch
conduit and fiber optic cable for the Iowa Department of Transportation’s intelligent transportation system. The route was
from Des Moines to Altoona.
Fiber cable placed in the conduit served video cameras and
sensors that are part of the state’s intelligent transportation
“The job involved a lot of high-production directional drilling,” said Joe Henkels, Baker Electric Inc., traffic department.
“For that reason, we chose to use a subcontractor, rather than our
own equipment. In addition to installing conduit and fiber, we
did 240 handholds, camera poles and extensive power wiring.”
Information collected by the ITS is sent to a control center in Ames, Iowa, which monitors traffic flow and speeds and
controls message boards with information about construction
zones, weather, accident locations and other information.
Baker Electric serves commercial, residential, ITS voice
and data, lighting, prefabrication, and complete design/build
services. Its traffic, underground and signalization division
handles all types of underground construction.
GRI FFI N, a construction and tools writer from Oklahoma City, can
be reached at email@example.com. P H
Horizontal directional drilling plays a critical role in fiber deployment,
installing runs of conduit beneath streets and other paved surfaces, for
water crossings, and conditionals where plowing or trenching is not
practical or possible.