Ditch Witch

TDS Fiber: how we’re building in your neighborhood

If you’re seeing Ditch Witch trucks buzzing around your neighborhood (literally and figuratively) and you’ve gotten a TDS Fiber door hanger at your home, you might be wondering what’s going on. We can tell you—TDS is bringing fiber-optic cable to your neighborhood!

That means the registration you submitted at TDS Fiber is paying off.  Soon you’ll have access to  faster Internet speeds (like up to 1Gig fast!) and TDS TV, our all-digital TV service that comes with a whole-home DVR.

But how do we go about installing fiber in an existing neighborhood? Let us explain the process:

First: We get permission

Before we do anything, we get permission from the local municipality to do the work. We can’t just go into a city or town and start digging without getting approval to access the utility easement areas.

EasementAn easement is a permanent right giving a person or party permission to use the land or property of another for a specific purpose. In this case, TDS gets official permission to use these areas to build and maintain a fiber-optic network. Easements include the area between the sidewalk and the street— and even 6-foot wide strips on homeowner property.

The photo above shows a map showing us exactly where the easements are for one location.

Second: We install conduit

Once we have permission, we have contractors install the plastic tubes—conduit—that will hold the fiber-optic cable. This is the bright orange tubing you’ll see on giant spools.

We put this conduit in the ground to protect the cable from damage, but it also does something else really important—it allows Digger’s Hotline to locate the cable in the future. Fiber cable, because its glass, can’t be found using standard, metal-detecting scanning equipment. The conduit we usually use has thin metal cable embedded in it so it can be located once it’s buried (and if it doesn’t have a wire, we put one inside for the same reason!).

There is a multi-stage and multi-day process to install the conduit. Here’s what we do:

1. First, we locate the existing utilities. We have yards marked by Diggers Hotline before we start working so we know where the existing utility lines (gas, water, power, telephone) should be. Please don’t remove the flags or the markings! Our contractors generally remember to remove them when they’re done.

2. Next, we dig a few holes. We’ll admit, this is often when homeowners get nervous, but here’s how we do it to minimize the impact to your yard:

Our contractors come in with what is called a “vac truck” (which often has the Ditch Witch logo on the side). This vehicle acts both as a vacuum cleaner and as a pressure washer.

Ditch Witch

Workers use the pressure washer to “dig,” loosening the soil only in the spots they need to access. They use the vacuum hose to suck up the loosened dirt. This keeps the holes in your yard highly precise and keeps the mess to a minimum. Check out this hole from a recent project:

Hole

They’re nice and tidy, but most importantly, these holes allow us to actually lay eyes on the other important utilities buried in your yard, and they also allow us to do the next step…

3. We use a special drill. This drill works like a giant earth worm (but one that can reach spots about 1,000 feet away!).

Drill 2

It pushes through the dirt—one section at a time—to the spot where we need to start inserting cable. From above, when the drill makes it to where we need to insert cable, this is what you see:

End of drill

That metal piece is actually the tip of the drill. The workers then connect the orange conduit to that open loop.

End of conduit

When they pull the drill back, it will also pull the conduit back through the hole, essentially “threading” it through the ground (not unlike using a needle and thread in sewing!).

4. We install pedestals. After the conduit is in, our contractors come back and connect the ends to those green boxes in your yard (called pedestals, or “peds” for short). If they don’t do that immediately, never fear—they cover the holes with plywood boards to prevent accidents.

hand hole 2In some cases plans call for inserting what looks like a flat panel in the ground. These are called “hand holes” and they’re underground vaults where the fiber cables come together and are spliced together. Hand holes are made from either a polymer concrete or fiberglass, and are strong enough for lawn mowers and even ATVs to drive over them—nice and safe for everyone.

These are generally installed in front yards because we need to be able to pull out the fiber cables into a climate-controlled truck or trailer to splice them together (fiber is picky about both dirt and temperature). They’re also more protected in this spot because the area between the sidewalk and road is likely to be disturbed by future utility or road projects.

5. We close the holes. Within seven days of opening the holes in your yard, we have to close them. This means we return and backfill those spots. We also come back to spread some grass seed and put down some hay to help restore the land to its original condition

Third: We insert fiber-optic cable

Once the conduit is in the ground, we can run and connect the fiber-optic cable to our infrastructure. This means not only “plugging in” the cable in the PED boxes, but also making changes and upgrades to the larger hub boxes.

If you have questions about the construction happening in your neighborhood, feel free to step off your front or back porch and ask! Most of our contractors are happy to answer questions—they’d rather explain what’s happening than have you upset. And of course, you can call 1-888-CALL-TDS to speak with someone.

 

About Missy Kellor

Missy works on the Corporate Communications team and reports stories to TDS employees and customers. This is right up her alley because she’s an extrovert and also a big fan of research (really, she’ll look up just about anything that strikes her interest). Missy is a native of Madison, Wis. with an undergraduate in Anthropology and a master’s degree in Life Sciences Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her interest in the Internet as a mass media shaped her work towards a PhD in Journalism and Mass Communications. She’s also worked as an editorial assistant, copywriter, and production artist. In her off hours, Missy is a crafter, Pinterest addict, reader, wife, and mom of two kids. You can find Missy on G+ and on Twitter.

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30 Responses to TDS Fiber: how we’re building in your neighborhood

  1. Chad Brueck July 21, 2015 at 7:37 pm #

    These “hand holes” are a massive eye sore to the neighborhood, and the home owners who get to deal with the mess afterwards. TDS just installed one in my front yard without even speaking to my wife and I. I am very disappointed with this company’s lack of decency and service to potential future customers.

  2. Michael Markert August 22, 2015 at 11:30 pm #

    5. We close the holes. Within seven days of opening the holes in your yard, we have to close them. This means we return and backfill those spots. We also come back to spread some grass seed and put down some hay to help restore the land to its original condition.

    This is a lie.

    • Missy Kellor August 25, 2015 at 9:59 am #

      Michael, if there are holes in your yard that haven’t been filled, please do give us a call so we can follow up! 1-888-CALL-TDS or you can place a trouble ticket on our website here: https://www.tdstelecom.com/contactus.

      • L. Maurice November 17, 2017 at 2:08 pm #

        My machine/hand dug hole was backfilled the day the dug. 🙂 I am wondering…They put a plate with a rod looking thing in the ground and it looks like a steel shovel handle sticking up about a foot above ground. Does this remain like this? There is NO street light here and I can just see someone tripping over that thing! What happens next? Oh yes, they are here now laying grass seed. On frozen ground. I find that a little funny. I guess it will be ready to grow come spring!

        • Missy Kellor November 20, 2017 at 8:34 am #

          Hmmmmmm, good question. If you’d be so kind as to email your address to comments@tdstelecom.com I will do some digging (ha!) on this. Thank you!

  3. Jeff August 27, 2015 at 2:22 pm #

    You should let people know in advance that you are going to dig holes in their backyard. Someone just showed up in my yard this morning digging holes. I have a fenced in yard and they were inside the fence. I have pets and would like to be informed if someone will be in my yard so I can make alternate plans for my pet.

  4. RICK FEHR September 9, 2015 at 3:20 pm #

    it has been almost 2 weeks since you dug holes in 4 spots in our yard and we still do not have any back fill or seed. The 2 ares in the front yard were sod and now you are going to put down seed. We will never sign up for TDS.

    • Missy Kellor September 10, 2015 at 7:24 am #

      Rick, I’m certainly sorry to hear this. If you would, please email your address to comments@tdstelecom.com. I can have someone follow up and make sure those holes get closed.

  5. STEPHEN REED November 4, 2015 at 9:44 am #

    WHEN ARE YOU COMING TO OUR STREET
    1814 8TH STREET MONROE WI 53566

  6. Jeff November 4, 2015 at 9:58 am #

    You don’t want them on your street. I was told they would plant new grass in my yard where they dug within a week. A month later, they showed up and did a horrible job of planting grass. Nothing grew because they waited until the end of September before planting it. Looking at every place they did this in my neighborhood, it is the same story. Next spring, many of us will have to be planting grass to try to cover up the work they did.

  7. Disgusted TDS Customer November 16, 2015 at 4:29 pm #

    White Construction is in our yard right now doing the digging for this “Fiberville.” They are HORRIBLE. Nothing “neat and tidy” as claimed in the blog above. They have destroyed several of our bushes with their digging and by walking through them because they’re too flipping lazy to walk around the perimeter of our lot to get to their other holes. I watched a guy wrestle with one of our bushes last Friday, trying to pull it out of the ground. I walked out to him and asked him if he’d like me to trim the bush back so he could finish digging his hole and he said sheepishly “uuuhhhh… I’m done.” He packed up and left, but came right back this morning to do the same thing. They have absolutely no respect for people’s property. NONE. They’re not in the easement areas, either, as mentioned in the blog above. No, their so called “easement” has extended as a 6 foot trench into the middle of our back yard. None of the “neat and tidy” damage they’ve caused in our neighborhood and adjacent neighborhoods has been repaired. But, at this point, it’s worthless to repair anyway, since you’re never going to get grass to grow in the middle of November in Wisconsin. Now we’ll just have a sloppy, muddy mess. TDS and White Construction should be refunding all of us who will have hefty landscaping bills come spring because of this shoddy work.

    • Missy Kellor November 20, 2015 at 1:12 pm #

      We’d like to be able follow up on this. Could you please send us your contact information? You can email us at comments@tdstelecom.com. Thank you!

    • Donald Keller January 23, 2016 at 11:33 am #

      We, too, have experienced the lack of respect for our property. About three months ago several tractors drove across our lawn, backed up, turned and made several trips across our empty lot without ever letting us know what they were going to be doing. They destroyed one of our long time flowering plants and never once discussed anything with us. The only face to face contact was when my husband went out to ask “what the hell they were doing, making several trips across our lawn and using it for a turnaround.” The man I talked to just turned around and went to talk to another man and that was the end of it!! No apology, no respectful customer service…NOTHING. We are still waiting for any real installation to take place and would like to know when we are scheduled, realizing that weather plays a part in the installation. When we are gone to Florida for several months we would like to know what the schedule is for our expected hookup.

      • Peter January 23, 2016 at 12:17 pm #

        My property is still flagged throughout winter because they didn’t turn up when they promised they would, no one bothered to call back to even apologize and you may have noticed that the customs rep here who answers people’s questions has conveniently disappeared as well. The business card left with us, same thing, I left message no one called back. I had to call back myself and mentioned I left the message, no apology. I would steer well clear of TDS no matter what they are offering, since fiber optics needs a lot of mainentance and I just cannot trust TDS after what they did. I may contact my lawyer to refuse them access since they were given a chance, didn’t turn up and I waited reasonable amount of time then we had snow and of course they wouldn’t be able to come then. Maybe you should contact your lawyer too.

  8. Matt December 14, 2015 at 4:41 pm #

    I would love to switch to TDS, but not at DSL speeds. Will we ever get fiber in 53529?

    • Missy Kellor December 15, 2015 at 8:43 am #

      Matt, if you visit TDSfiber.com you can enter your address and see whether there’s a project in the works for where you live. And, feel free to check back occasionally—as we expand our fiber footprint, the areas we serve will change over time.

  9. Peter December 17, 2015 at 9:13 am #

    They are about to come to us as well. I’m not happy about this at all. They gave a leaflet asking US to spray and paint and flag our own stuff e.g. sprinkler systems. I called and there’s just one guy. I left a message and he never called me back so I called back later. Basically he was vague and not helpful. He said ‘it will be okay, so long as we know’ blah blah. But the above process WILL destroy our sprinklers period. And to flag a sprinkler system properly you need to know exactly where the tiny sprinklers are – during summer it’s easy, you let them run and spot them. In winter you cannot. Which means that I will have to contact the people who installed the sprinkler system in order for them to flag things. However this should be the responsibility of TDS, and I shouldn’t have to pay out of my own pocket for this.

    • Peter January 6, 2016 at 1:54 pm #

      An update to this situation. I was concerned that TDS was coming to us to work on the fiber. I called the number and the guy on the card they left for me said they were coming very soon and it would help if I flagged our sprinklers (we have sprinkler system at front and back) so I called up our water sprinkler people to come over and do the job, which was done next day, and which I paid it of my own pocket (eighty five bucks) as they had to pump air to find the exact spot for all sprinklers and flag them. We even lost a few as it was getting colder (from the ice and pressure) so these will have to be fixed in the spring. Anyway, job was done, I called back, the guy thanked me and said they’d come soon (were supposed to come same week) and then kept postponing and then he said they’ll be there on Monday 21 before the holidays, well guess what they never came. Then it snowed and that’s it, now it’s not possible to do this until it gets warm again. So basically now my property was flagged through out the holidays and will continue to remain flagged until TDS come to do the job they promised to do before the holidays. Do not believe anything these clowns tell you!

  10. Bait and Switch January 6, 2016 at 1:11 pm #

    WARNING – New TDS Fiberville is a bait and switch! We are existing TDS customers that signed a sales order for the new Fiberville service that is new to our area. The price stated on the sales order form is $49.90 plus tax per month. When I received the first bill after switching to the new service, it was much higher than stated. When I called customer service to inquire, I was told that my new bill would be $80.03 per month plus tax. I was told that the TDS salesperson was notified that I did not actually qualify for the promotion I signed up for, and he should have notified me in turn. I received no notification from the salesperson. She told me that she could not honor the sales order because I did not qualify for the promotion. I want to know why this signed sales order for $49.90 plus tax per month cannot be honored?!

    • Donald Keller January 23, 2016 at 11:42 am #

      We, too, are current TDS customers with a package that includes DISH. The total we were quoted when we signed up on October 10, 2015 was $150.79 due to the extra TV’s and the other hookups and fees we need. We demand verification of this signed contract with Will Crittenden and if we do not receive that verification in writing we will withdraw our request for this service. By the way, I called Mr. Crittenden at the number on his card with a question about the installation of the service and he never had the courtesy to return the call so of what value is a business card?

  11. Lori Fure March 15, 2016 at 8:47 pm #

    I am in Cassville Wisconsin and just about everyone in town has fiberville but my block, when can i expect it. I have been signed up since the beginning. My address is 1014 East Bluff St.

  12. sharpshank March 19, 2016 at 11:22 pm #

    GET OVER IT AND STOP CRYING. If you put something within a utility easement (LIKE A SPRINKLER SYSTEM) don’t get mad if it gets damage or destroyed.

    A utility easement is an easement that allows a utility the right to use and access specific area of another’s property for laying fiber optics, gas, electric, water, and sewer lines. A utility easement is attached to the property deed so that it passes on even when the property is transferred or sold. Having an easement gives the utility the right to use the land, but the utility does not own it. However, the property owner may encounter certain restrictions on land use in an area covered by a utility easement.

    The utility has the right to use a strip of land for the lines, and to enter the land for maintenance and or upgrading there outside plant. Giving notice depends on what state you are in and what type of work is being done. You can’t get mad if you have an easement in your backyard and someone from the utility company goes into your yard to inspect or maintain there equipment.

    • Peter March 20, 2016 at 1:11 am #

      Who are you replying to sharp shank? I hope it’s not me because the TDS rep I spoke to profoundly apologized for the fact they told me many times they would start construction (on December 15) which never happened and for which no one bothered to tell me they would not go ahead with it, even after I tried to contact them. Also, my sprinkler system does not reach the utility easement. The whole point is that if they are not careful they may hit something. Also, it’s other things passing from there, such as gas line. They said they would contact the utility people to come spray and I said I will take care of flagging the sprinkler system at front and back, which shouldn’t of course be close to them. The whole point is that they failed to notify me of this and I was rushing to do things in middle of winter I didn’t need to. As a result I lost some sprinklers because of the cold weather, which I wouldn’t need to if I knew they were not coming in the first place.

      Same goes with contacting the person in charge. When you leave a message and they are suppose to call you back and they don’t (despite their claims) that’s also bad manners. Hence why I complain.

      Of course the TDS rep I spoke to said she would contact the right people and find out what’s going on with construction (because I want this done before we have to work on our lawn) but I haven’t heard from anyone for days now. I don’t think anyone will contact me.

      It’s not just about what’s legally right or not here (although my sprinkler doesn’t pass from the easement so unless they are negligent there should be no problem – but often they are and I can’t trust each worker) but what’s right in terms of business and manners.

      A bit like yours, which are clearly lacking.

      • Jeff March 20, 2016 at 10:17 pm #

        They came into my yard with no notice, dug holes in my yard, did a horrible job planting grass which I will have to redo at my own expense, and I’m not expected to complain? The company that was putting this into my neighborhood showed little to no respect for anyone.

  13. Dan Fitzgerald March 21, 2016 at 10:23 am #

    Be happy you don’t have telephone poles. No trees will fall on your power lines and knock the power out. No cars will hit a pole causing down power lines on a rainy night to electrocute and kill 2 good Samaritans and injure 6 more. Underground transformer explosion can be pretty serious to anyone in the area, but so can aerial transformers. So it’s simple don’t put landscaping or sprinklers or anything else you wouldn’t want to have torn up within an easement and when they are done plant your own grass seed. Must of these people are complaining because they think they can get something out of it. The days of utility companies compensating customers are few and far between.

    I always tell the truth to customers in person.

    For example:

    Customer Says “How come the homes across the street have High Speed Internet Service and I don’t?”

    I reply “They have service because the owner of the corner house on that block didn’t come outside demanding we leave his property unless he was compensated somehow for letting us over-lash to an existing cable that was already in a legal easement”

    “And the reason you don’t have service is because your neighbor on the corner did come outside asking for compensation, which he will never get. Which means unfortunately you will never get service. Sorry.”

    • sharpshank March 21, 2016 at 10:26 am #

      I posted that under the wrong name. It should of said Sharpshank not Dan.

  14. Unhappy in West tn September 12, 2016 at 10:26 pm #

    TDS run fiber optic line in our front yard, but we can’t hook on?????? What’s going on with that???? No one is hooked up?????

    • Peter S September 13, 2016 at 3:22 am #

      Nope, of course not…service from TDS? Rofl I lost enough money already to them… Stay well clear of them.

  15. Tim J., Blanchester, Ohio April 29, 2017 at 12:10 am #

    Any chance of TDS Fiber service over in the Fayetteville-Perry/Southern-Blanchester area in Ohio? We’ve been having issues with our old rickety 5mbps “high-speed” connection for awhile now (and we’ve been told we’re actually paying for 15mbps, but 5mbps is all we can get right now) so we’re hoping for a fiber-optic upgrade in our area (whether it be by TDS or another company) in the near future…

    • Missy Kellor May 1, 2017 at 9:07 am #

      Hi Tim,

      I am unaware of any plans for fiber projects in Ohio, but we will be doing network upgrades there. If you’d like to check to see if you’ll be impacted, head to https://tdstelecom.com/networkupgrades.html and enter your address.

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