In a recent POTs and PANs post from the owner and president of CCG consulting, Doug Dawson helps to demystify the process cable installation experts use to run fiber optic cables through conduit. The article walks us through the process, describing the techniques, equipment, and quality control processes involved in the installation of long and short fiber runs.
As the article notes, while installers can lay fiber optic cables without using conduit, carrier-class conduits often use conduit for two primary reasons: (1) to protect fiber optic cables and (2) to make the cables easily accessible for future needs. The post explains the three methods installers user to feed the cables through the conduit. One method, the simplest of all, involves pushing the cables through conduit; it is commonly used for home and office installations. For longer routes, installers can potentially use either of more complex pulling and blowing methods. Dawson discusses the advantages and limitations of each method along with unique characteristics of short and long installations that dictate which method is the best for a given job.
For example, the most basic pushing method is practical for short runs inside of offices and homes because it can’t overcome snags and bends in conduit the way the pulling method can. On the other hand, while the pulling method is the most viable method for long outdoor installations, it is also more likely to cause damage to the cables during the install process. While installers can use the blowing method for longer routes in some circumstances, it requires installers to use a lighter than normal set of fiber cables, specialized conduit with a low-friction lining, and more care avoid physical obstructions in the conduit.
Both pulling fiber and blowing fiber take specialized equipment and require following specific techniques to do it right to get the fiber through the conduit both quickly and safely. If you watch a fiber installation team and they are just sitting somewhere along the road, chances are that they are not being idle but are instead pulling or blowing the fiber through the conduit. All of these methods require knowledge and skill to do right without harming the conduit.