FOA Guide

OSP Banner

Outside Plant Construction Guide

Review Of Fiber Optic Technology. 
Project Preparation And Guidelines.
Underground Cable Construction.
Underground Cable Installation.
Aerial Cable Installation.
Completing Outside Cable Plant Installation.


Aerial Cable Installation

Aerial Cable Installation
Deploying fiber above ground on poles or towers removes the need for underground digging and is particularly useful when the ground is uneven, rocky or both. Aerial installation is generally much less costly than underground construction also.
Fiber in a duct solutions have a major aesthetic advantage; once installed, they are invisible, leaving no mark on the landscape. Unlike aerial installations, they are less affected by most adverse weather like high winds or freezing rain. But underground installations can be vulnerable to flooding damage.
However, there are a number of reasons for choosing an aerial solution, such as:
  • Aerial fibers are typically much faster and cheaper to deploy than buried networks.
  • The planned route may be undulating, rocky or both, making digging less appealing.
  • All-Dielectric Self Supporting (ADSS) cables can be erected in close proximity to power transmission lines. This of course, allows for pole sharing, which of course, reduces installation costs and speeds-up deployment.

Before beginning aerial installations, the design of the cable plant must be properly done and checked. Routes must be surveyed, ground conditions tested, all components procured and received. Permits from local authorities must be obtained and coordination with local agencies such as traffic and police must be properly planned.
If poles exist already, it is required to have proper permits for adding communications cables and the poles must be “made ready” by the owner of the poles are authorized parties. This may take considerable time which must be factored in the planning of the project. Sometimes lightweight fiber cable may be lashed to previously installed cables such as older copper phone cables or CATV hardline coax, but proper permissions must be obtained.
Prior to installation, the location of splice points and storage of slack cables must be determined and noted in the design. Splice locations should be chosen with the need for parking a splice truck, van or trainer nearby.
Cable Jackets
Polyethylene (PE) is the material of choice for use as an aerial OSP cable jacket. The performance of raw PE can degrade rapidly through exposure to sunlight but the addition of carbon black to the cable jacket absorbs the UV light to protect the plastic jacket of the cable. Jacket colors other than black are rarely used for aerial installations and then only for enhancing identification.
Aerial cable installation can be hazardous as personnel may working at considerable height above the ground on ladders, bucket trucks or even climbing poles and near electrical transmission wires. All workers should have proper training and personal protective equipment before being allowed to work on aerial installations.
Pole Handling Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)
  • Safety boots with steel caps.
  • Protective clothing with long sleeves.
  • Shoulder pads.
  • Gloves.
  • Hardhat.

Climbing Ladders
  • Keep hands free of tools or materials when climbing or descending a pole or ladder.
  • Workers climbing up or down ladders must always face the ladder and maintain a 3-point contact. This effectively means that 2-hands and 1-foot or 2-feet and 1-hand must be on the ladder at all times.
  • Ladder must be positioned correctly (1-4 ratio).
  • Ladder must be properly secured (lashed and held).
  • Ladder must be in a good condition.
  • The ladder must suit the application.
  • A worker must be correctly positioned on the ladder.
  • A safety harness must be worn and secured to the pole once the working position is reached.
  • Never climb intermediate poles if the span they support is being placed under tension.

Transportation of Poles
Poles must never exceed the 0.5m vehicle overhang and must have a red flag secured on the overhanging end. Poles that are loaded onto a pole carrier must be secured to ensure that the cargo does not move while it is in transit.
Pole Off-Loading Procedure
Ensure that the removal of any one pole will not cause shifting or rolling of any of the remaining poles.
Step 1: Unfasten the poles.
Step 2: Slide one pole at a time towards the rear end of the vehicle.
Step 3: When the pole reaches its equilibrium point, the persons on the vehicle must raise their end slowly.
Step 4: The persons on the ground slowly pull the pole until 1m of it is left on the back of the vehicle bed.
Step 5: The persons on the ground receive the pole and gently place it on the ground.
A pole must never be dropped on the ground, as this could damage the pole and/or cause injury to team members.
Pole Handling Ratios
Smaller poles may be handled manually with sufficient personnel available but larger poles require proper mechanical aids.
7m pole =4 people
8m pole =6 people
9m pole = 8 people or a mechanical aid
10m pole = mechanical aid.
11m + pole = mechanical aid
  • Survey rods must be planted in line at selected pole positions so that, when erected, the poles will be in a straight line.                                    
  • A spirit level must be used to verify that there is no lean to the rods.         
  • As the survey advances, the rear rods used for lining up - will be withdrawn and survey pegs driven into the ground in the exact position previously occupied by the survey rod.                                                              
  • The location of the poles to be erected along roads shall be in accordance with the way leave drawings and conditions stipulated by the authorities concerned.                                                                                          
  • Square wooden pegs shall be used to mark the position of every pole, stay or strut.                                                                                                      
  • The numbering (or other details) and marking of the wooden pegs shall be done as agreed upon by both the client and contractor.             
  • The tops of pegs that show the positions of angle poles must be marked with blue lumber crayon crosses.                                                            
  • A survey peg for a strut position must show the approximate spread of the strut.

Survey Equipment and Tools
  • Digital camera spare batteries.
  • GPS with tracking function and spare batteries.
  • DCP tester.
  • Tape measure.
  • Measuring wheel.
  • Survey pegs and hammer
  • Road cones.
  • Clip board, survey sheet/note book and stationary.
  • Construction vehicle – with signage and an orange light mounted on the rooftop.
  • Road map and/or proposed route detail drawing/s from the client.
  • Reflector jacket.
  • Personal Identification.

Survey - Gather Route Information
  • The information on this route must accurately indicate distances.
  • Take photos of all obstacles on the route (existing services, bridge crossings, rocky areas, buildings, built-up areas, paved/tarred areas, wetlands, overhead obstacles, etc.).
  • Identify all obvious landmarks where the route changes direction (take photos).
  • Note down any road repair work necessary - record distances and GPS coordinates.
  • Provide for a series of DCP test readings along the route and document the exact positions.
  • Description of the topography along the route (sloping, edge of cliff, adjacent to lake, forest surroundings, rivers, swampy areas, etc.) - record distances and GPS coordinates.
  • Description of the ground condition along the route and distances (rocky, sandy, grassy, clay, etc.) - record distances and GPS coordinates.
  • Indicate the distance to the nearest town, where the civil works material (sand, cement, stone, water, tools, etc.) can be sourced from.
  • Locate possible warehouse/camp sites where material can safely be stored.
  • Indicate the availability of hospitals / clinics / police stations along the route - in case required during operational activities.
  • Plan the route to allow for projected road or rail deviations.
  • Double-check recorded details on the return journey.

Pre-Install Meeting
A pre-install meeting or meetings must be held to discuss the survey results, the optimum pulling sites, span lengths, installation equipment and hardware requirements, logistics, splice locations, terrain and other vital installation topics.
Checks to be undertaken prior to commencing with the planned aerial work
  • Does the contractor have approved aerial route drawings, signed by the client?
  • Do the drawings show the alignment of the aerial route within the wayleave specification?
  • Are the wayleaves in place? (must be kept on site at all times).
  • Have the locations of existing services been marked and shown on drawings?
  • Are the aerial route drawings being marked indicated on which side of existing road/pathway to stay?
  • Has the accessibility of poles to splicing vehicles been considered?
  • Does the cable have a UV resistant cable jacket?

Wooden pole inspection (prior to installation)
  • Correct type of pole supplied? (length and thickness)
  • Excessively bent or cracked poles should never be used. Horizontal cracks perpendicular to the grain of the wood may weaken the pole. One large knot or several smaller ones at the same height on the pole may be evidence of a weak point on the pole.
  • Inspect the pole for evidence of termites or ants.
  • Ensure that all poles are fitted with ‘end plates’ and strapping at both ends.
  • The poles should never be off loaded and stacked on the ground for long periods as this could cause damage to the poles as well as the environment.
  • Hammer Test (existing poles): Rap the pole sharply with a hammer weighing about 1kg, starting near the ground line – then continue upwards around the pole to a height of approximately 1.5m. The hammer will produce a clear sound and rebound sharply when striking sound wood. Decayed areas will be indicated by a dull sound or a less pronounced hammer rebound.

Hole-digging Tools

The tools provided for hole-digging include picks, shovels, earth augers, crowbars, drills and sledge hammers. The tools to be used for any particular work are determined predominantly by soil conditions. On large projects and wherever ground conditions permit, hydraulically powered Earth Augers can be used. It looks much like a corkscrew and produces extremely clean holes.                                                                                               

Pole Holes   
Poles must be buried sufficiently deep for stability. The depth depends on the height of the pole. Check with local authorities to confirm these dimensions.
All excavations for pole holes will be such that the survey peg indicates the center of the hole. If the holes are too large, the soil will be unnecessarily disturbed and the poles will not be supported by solid earth. (A diameter of approximately 400mm (16 inches) is recommended). Where a hole is dug on sloping ground, the depth of the hole shall be measured from the lowest point on the ground surface. In extreme rocky conditions where holes cannot be excavated to the specified depth, an arrangement between contractor and client can be reached for poles to be set in concrete.
Poles set in Concrete
Where poles are planted in soil that is difficult to compact, such as sand and swampy areas and in extreme rocky conditions, the poles can be cast in concrete. Only new wooden poles can be set in concrete. The hole must be circular in shape. The hole diameter must be kept to a minimum, but be sufficiently wide to accommodate at least 85mm of concrete between the sides of the pole and the undisturbed ground.
The concrete to be used must be made from a mixture of 1 part cement, three parts sand and three parts crushed stone (1:3:3 mix - 15MPa). Concrete must not be compacted around the poles, but thoroughly tamped around the pole with a suitable wooden stick, until the hole is filled. The bottom of the pole must be allowed to “breathe” – therefore, backfill with 10cm of soil before pouring concrete.                                                                                    
Pole Spacing
It is advisable to maintain a uniform span length and depart from this only when it is rendered necessary by conditions such as: (1) uneven ground (2) sharp bends (3) or to avoid dangerous positions. This may necessitate the planting of additional poles or omitting of poles. Steel measuring wires for standard span lengths should be made up locally. When the length of span has been chosen the appropriate wire should be used to determine the distance between successive poles. A steel tape measure should be used for checking the length of the measuring wire daily during the survey.
Local ADSS Span Lengths
All dielectric self-supporting fiber optic cable can be installed without a messenger over relatively long spans. ADSS installation will be covered later.

Pole Planting Process
  • Ensure that all holes necessary for pole dressing are drilled prior to erection.
  • A pole should be erected by laying it on the ground in such a position that by raising the top section, the base should slide into the hole.
  • Backfilling and ramming must take place in 150 mm ( 6 inches) intervals.
  • Where stones are available they should be used to stiffen the holding.
  • During the backfill and ramming process, always ensure that pole plumbness is maintained.

Suggested Pole Planting Work Practices
  • Avoid dongas, culverts, drains or water channels.
  • Avoid obstructing private roads and entrances.
  • Restrict road crossings to a bare minimum, and if possible, stick to the same side of the road throughout.
  • Avoid trees and where not possible, select a position which will minimise interference from trees – even at the expense of construction costs being increased slightly by this action.
  • Along national and other proclaimed roads the poles and stays should be located in the position agreed to by the Road Authority and as indicated on the wayleave.
  • Keep the route as far away as practically possible from power lines.
  • Where the ground is very soft, poles may be planted 300 mm ( 12 in) deeper than specified, but only if the necessary vertical clearance is maintained.
  • Ensure that all holes necessary for pole dressing are drilled prior to erection.
  • Maintain a distance of at least 1m from trig beacons and stations.
  • The principle to be followed in all cases is that neither stays nor poles are to be planted where they are likely to cause obstruction or to be dangerous to users of the road, or where they are likely to interfere with ordinary road maintenance such as the clearing and trimming of the edges of the road or the cutting of drains, gutters, etc.
  • In railway reserves, the poles should be located as close as possible to the boundary fence.

Types of Stays
Terminal Stays

Terminal stays are provided where the route starts and ends. This stay must be on the side of the pole opposite to the direction of the cable route.
Line Stays
Line stays should be installed at every 13th pole along the route or spaced alternatively as per specification. Line stays must be installed on poles either side of rivers and road crossings where normal span lengths are exceeded.

Wind stays & Angle stays
Wind stays are used to stabilize a cable route against wind. Fitted at 90˚ against the direction of the cable route and on either side of a pole. Angle stays are used to counter-act a change in direction of the cable route by more than 15˚or as per client specs.
Stay Guards
Stay guards must be fitted on all stays exposed to pedestrians, cyclists or vehicles, to make them more visible.
Struts can be used as an alternative to where stays create traffic hazards, block roads or where a property owner objects to the fitting of a stay. Struts must be installed on the opposite side of the pole to where the angle stay would have been fitted, to counteract cable strain.           
Stay Holes
The cross-section of the hole shall be confined to the smallest size necessary to accommodate a stay plate.
The depth of stay holes shall be 1.5 ( 5 feet) meters or at such a depth where the unthreaded portion of the stay rod protrudes by no more than 25mm ( 1 in) above ground level. Stay rods without plates may be used where solid rock is encountered. The stay rod is now inserted in a hole drilled into the rock and secured with cement. In difficult to dig ground conditions shallower holes are allowed subject to approval and shall then be backfilled using concrete.
Spread/Height Ratio
The spread is the distance from the foot of the pole to the point to where the stay enters the ground.

  • The height is the distance from the ground to the pole attachment.
  • Wind stays shall have a spread/height ratio of 0.6:1
  • Terminal and line stays has a spread/height ratio of 1:1

Termination of Stay Wire to Pole or Crosshead

  • Wrap the top pre-formed “make-off” without overlapping around the pole twice at the prescribed height with ends meeting.
  • Twist the top of the preformed “make-off” around the stay wire.
  • Cut the stay wire at the correct length to ensure that the proper spread/height ratio is maintained.
  • Place the bottom of the preformed “make-off” through the crosshead eye.
  • Then pull tight and cut the suspension wire in line with the crosshead and twist the bottom preformed “make-off” around the stay wire (ensure that the crosshead is threaded to the outer most of the stay rod).

Messenger Wires (Suspension Strands)
If the cable is to be lashed to a messenger wire, the messenger wire must be sufficiently strong to support the cable under expected environmental conditions, including wind and possible ice in winter. If designing an aerial system requires installing a messenger wire, the design must include calculations for the messenger wire size based on expected cabling loads, span lengths and other possible uses including future cables being added to the span on the same messenger wire.
Designs for the messenger wire should include the type of wire chosen, how it is attached to the poles for both dead ends and crossovers, slack and sag, etc. The proper design is the minimum acceptable size of messenger wire with adequate strength, because larger wires weigh more and are more susceptible to wind and icing. Consulting with a knowledgeable applications engineer, often those with the fiber optic cable supplier, can provide the knowledge needed to design and install the proper messenger wires.
Installing messenger wires on electrical utility poles for fiber installation.
Lashing Fiber Optic Cable To A Messenger Cable
The installation process of a lashed aerial fiber optic cable will generally require one or more bucket trucks to allow workers to reach the location of the lashing, guide cables around poles and through trees or other obstacles and move the lasher across poles.
Two trucks lashing cable to a messenger. The lasher is just to the left of the pole.
There are two ways to lash cable to a messenger, the moving reel method and the stationary reel method. In the moving reel method, the reel is moved slowly under the route while the lasher is pulled along to lash the cable to the messenger. This method generally only works when the reel vehicle can drive along the entire route.

Moving reel method
The stationary reel method leaves the reel in place and the cable is pulled along the route and temporarily attached to the messenger with cable blocks. After the cable is placed, the lasher is pulled along the route to lash the cable. The lasher can push the blocks to the next pole for removal or be removed as the lasher moved along the route.

Stationary reel method

Lasher being pulled for stationary reel method
Extra Fiber For Handling And Service Loops
At the ends of every section of cable where it is being spliced or terminated, the cable must be long enough to reach the splicing van or trailer plus about 5 m (16 feet) to allow for entry into the splicing van or trailer and have sufficient cable length for preparation and splicing.
The cable plant design should include plans for location and placement of service loops to safely and neatly store this excess cable and a splice closure after splicing is complete.
Installation Of All-Dielectric Self-Supporting (ADSS) Cable

ADSS is a special OSP cable that is designed to sustain larger tension loads over long periods of time. ADSS cable does not need any additional support so it is small, lightweight and easy to install. Because it is non-conductive, it can be installed on towers or poles nearer electric wires, making it especially popular with electrical utilities. It can also be installed on long spans (up to 6 km in some cases) so it is easier to install in rugged or rural areas where it is difficult to install a messenger wire first.
ADSS cable plants require careful designs to ensure the route is accessible by versonnel and/or vehicles for pulling cable and splicing. In particular notes the locations of poles so proper span lengths can be chosen. The cable plant design should include plans for location and placement of service loops to safely and neatly store this excess cable and a splice closure after splicing is complete.
As with any specialized cable, it is recommended that the designer work with the manufacturer to ensure the span lengths are chosen appropriately for the cable and the proper mounting hardware is chosen. Every manufacturer of ADSS cable has recommendations for hardware and special handling instructions for installation. Hardware for the secured ends of the cable (called dead-ends) and supports at intermediate poles must be chosen to be appropriate for the cable size and tension loads. Special attention must be paid if the cable bends at the pole; special hardware may be needed.
Since ADSS cable does not need a support wire, it needs to be supported by pulleys at each pole during installation. After the cable has been pulled, pulleys will be replaced by supports at intermediate  poles and dead-ends at locations where it is tensioned for drops or because it is at the maximum span length specified for the cable. Poles must be prepared for the installation of the pulleys and the final cable hardware before cable pulling begins.

Installing ADSS Cable with the stationary reel method
A pulling rope is attached to the cable with a swivel pulling eye and a wire grip. The cable reel should be placed well away from the first pole to prevent bending the cable excessively at the first pulley. The reel should have a brake to maintain significant tension as the cable is being pulled to prevent excess sagging between poles. 
The cable is positioned on the first pulley by a worker in a bucket truck or if the cable is low enough, by a worker on a ladder or using a special support pole. The cable is pulled by the pull rope while the worker in the bucket truck places the cable on the pulleys in sequence. Care should be taken to ensure the cable does not touch the ground and get dirty.
A moving reel installation method can be done if there is a clear route for driving a vehicle with the reel of cable. A bucket truck follows to place the cable in the pulleys. Care must be taken to maintain the proper tension while paying off the cable from the reel.
Once the entire cable has been pulled into place, the support hardware for each intermediate pole can be attached and the pulleys removed. At the ends of the section, the dead-end hardware is attached to the cable and the entire span is tensioned from one end.
Since ADSS does not have a steel messenger, wind vibration can be a problem with the lightweight fiber optic cable. Wind vibration can cause degradation of the support hardware. Vibration dampers of several types can be installed to control wind vibration.
At the ends of a section of cable where it is being spliced, the cable must be long enough to reach the splicing van or trailer plus about 5 m (16 feet) to allow for entry into the splicing van or trailer and have sufficient cable length for preparation and splicing.
Dual dead-ends are used to secure the two cables meeting at the pole for splicing. All slack cable should be stored on cable storage brackets attached to the cables or the pole. Special fittings are available for slack storage and should be chosen for the location of the storage.
Figure-8 Cable
Figure-8 cable is an OSP cable with a messenger wire molded on the side of the cable. It is less commonly used for aerial installations but may be useful where no messenger is available. It is installed like a messenger wire but care must be taken to protect the fiber cable from damage.


(C) 2018 The Fiber Optic Association Inc.
Return to the OSP Construction Guide Index


(C)1999-2020, The Fiber Optic Association, Inc.