Page 21 - Alabama 811 Magazine 2022 Issue 1
P. 21

A Serious Issue
Increased Fiber Damages
As the country continues to advance technologically, there is a greater need for telecommunications at our places of business and in our homes. With this ever-increasing demand, especially for wireless capabilities, more and more fiber is being placed in the ground across the United States. Alabama is no different.
It has been reported that during the last 20 years, more than 85 million miles
of fiber optic cable were installed in
the United States, almost 40 million
of them in just the last year. Logically, it follows that telecommunication damages, and especially fiber damages are on the rise.
Most in the industry attribute the increase in the amount of fiber placement to the “wireless push” and the need for more fiber to support the amount of traffic necessary to power 4G and 5G networks.
A long time employee of the phone company was recently heard saying, “Days of plain old telephone services are over. Our biggest competitors are typically our own wireless divisions. Repairing copper lines is still a major problem, but damaging a fiber can have greater impact than just interrupting residential and commercial services.”
As new neighborhoods continue
to be developed, fiber to housing developments promoting video and
high speed internet is being placed underground, making calling before you dig even more important.
Contract locators will tell you that typically there are telecommunications lines at sites they have been called
to locate, and because so many more people are working from a home office, cutting a fiber running through neighborhoods will do more than just cause the loss of telephone service as it once did. Telecommunications vital to the homeowner’s employment and even the homeowner’s health can be disrupted.
by Roger Cox
President, ACTS Now, Inc.
One call laws continue to emphasize the importance of calling before you dig and that is a critical first step in protecting any underground utility. Another very important step is to respect the mark and the tolerance zone. Too many times the call has been made, the marks are correct and then the damage occurs because the utility lines were not properly exposed within the tolerance zone.
We certainly recognize the importance of educating stakeholders in regard to Alabama laws regulating excavation in the state. Most understand the immediate dangers associated with digging around pipelines, gas distribution and underground power lines.
Some would say that the same excavators are not as careful when digging around the orange paint. Fiber damage can disrupt cell service, credit card machines, internet or
life sustaining facilities such as 911 centers, police and fire stations and hospitals. Even air traffic control and Homeland Security rely on
the technology that fiber provides. Depending on the severity and circumstances of the damage, it could take anywhere from four to as many as 48 hours to restore service.
Certain interruptions to service can be an inconvenience while others can be life threatening. It is important
to understand the consequences of damaging underground utilities.
If you hit the right pipeline, you may place the immediate neighborhood and your own life in jeopardy. Cut the right fiber and you may create chaos and danger to communities far beyond the horizon.
Respect the paint and not just the color of the paint. Education is the key.
Spread the word.
2022, Issue 1
Alabama 811 • 19

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