Whether the digging happens on city or provincial roads, any roadwork is an inconvenience for motorists, causing traffic to slow. Dug-out trenches also pose a serious danger especially at night, which have often been the cause of road accidents. Not mention, making the work slow and costly.
This was the challenge Easter Communications faced when it embarked on a massive 240 kilometer long backhaul expansion program that would effectively link Laguna, Tagaytay, and Cavite with Makati. The ambitious project would ordinarily have meant extensive diggings that would exacerbate traffic conditions in and around the area. Given that the roads leading outside the metropolis are not as wide as Metro Manila roads, there was urgent need to employ methods and technologies that would allow for the least “inconvenience” and expedite the project without compromising the quality of the output.
The first and most tedious aspect of the project is the laying of the cable, which needs to run across an extensive 240km length. The process takes a long time and enormous manpower and, if not done properly and can cause great inconvenience to motorists, pedestrians, residences, and establishments along the route. To avoid that, Eastern employed the Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) technology, which avoids breaking the road to dig deep trenches. Instead, HDD machines drill through a small hole underground with a detection device that guides the drill to a pre-set exit point. Hence, instead of digging a 350-meter trench that normally takes weeks, now takes only two holes – entrance and exit – and in just six hours.
Laying the cables is also critical to the operation and care is taken to ensure that the fiber integrity is preserved. Cable laying is done systematically and fast, whether pulled from underground when HDDs are used or laid above ground into open trenches. Those using HDDs pull these cables from underground after detecting it through the exit hole. For open trenches, the spool of protective cable microduct is hitched to a trailer and pulled from a truck. One spool is 2 km long so it installed once a long stretch has been dug. As it is being laid, ground crew at the back covers it. Precaution is taken to ensure that no sharp objects like rocks and metals touch the sheath. Safety standards are observed every step of the way.
At the end of each cable lay, a concrete housing is constructed from where the fiber optic cable is inserted via fiber-blowing machine. This machine ensures that the fiber optics is inserted safely and quickly. This machine does three things: first, it pumps water to clean out any obstruction in the sheath; second, the water is pressurized so that it creates a medium that helps lubricate and facilitate insertion of the fiber cable; and third, it mechanically and systematically inserts the cable into the sheath. What would have taken three weeks to complete now takes only three to four hours at the most.