Crews use micro-trenching for $32M Saratoga Springs fiber network

SiFi Networks has completed the first phase of a $32 million fiber network in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Founded in 2012, SiFi Networks privately funds, builds and operates citywide, open-access fiber networks across the U.S. The company is currently working alongside its delivery partners with more than 40 cities. It provides an open-access business model, allowing multiple internet service providers to deliver various services on its network, thus bringing competition in broadband services.

In Saratoga Springs the city’s Department of Public Works issued a permit in late May for contractors to begin construction. Crews placed fiber optic micro-duct (smaller sized ducts to contain fiber) along with fiber optic cables in some greenspace right-of-ways.

SiFi uses microtrenching, a technique which lays fiber only 12 inches underground in a narrow trench to minimize disruption to roads and trees.

In Saratoga Springs, crews make a narrow incision in the greenspaces, laying the fiberoptic micro-duct. Workers then restored the space, taking extra precautions to protect the city’s trees.
“We worked closely with the city’s arborist to ensure that trees located in the greenspace were not harmed during the construction process,” said Robbie Heaps, VP of Quality Assurance, Environmental, Social & Corporate Governance, for SiFi Networks. “A waterjet machine with a vacuum was used to carefully dig around the root systems, creating an underground pathway for the fiber micro-duct to be installed without disturbing the trees.”

Crews from Lat Long Infrastructure completed phase one work last week and will pause efforts to allow for better traffic flow during the summer tourism season, and for city officials to review the latest construction techniques and building methodologies.

“We’ve been working with the community and city leaders for years to make this dream a reality,” said Heaps. “Saratoga Springs will be the first city in New York State with an all-fiber network and the first open-access network here, as well.”

The all-fiber-optic network will deliver internet speeds up to 10 Gbps and has the capacity to handle surges in internet traffic.

The Saratoga Springs FiberCity network will be made available to every home, business, multifamily building and institution in the city.
When phase two of the project gets underway after Labor Day, most of the network will be built in the greenspace right-of-ways, while small portions will be constructed underground in the city streets (hardscape) along the edge of roadways. In these instances, micro-trenching machines will be used to cut a narrow incision in the roadway where the fiber cables will be buried.  Workers will restore the roadway immediately after installation. 
“People tend to be curious when construction happens in their neighborhood. We met with dozens of residents during phase one and provided information about the project and buildout timelines,” said Heaps. “Our goal is to answer as many questions as folks have including how the network will work and who their providers will be. We want to be as transparent as possible with the community.”
SiFi will also be meeting with the community and city leaders this summer to identify which types of Smart City applications they’d like to see deployed in the city. Everything from Smart kiosks, Smart storm water monitoring, Smart street lights, parking sensors, traffic sensors, and Smart air quality monitors are examples of technologies that the city might want.
SiFi anticipates that sections of the network will start going live in the spring of 2023 with completion anticipated in the fall of 2024.