Recommend a low-voltage underground contractor in East Bay?

Internet access discussion, including Fusion, IP Broadband, and Gigabit Fiber!
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by dkenglish7 » Fri Dec 02, 2022 6:56 pm
Situation: I'm in Oakland and Sonic 10G fiber has come to my neighborhood. But utilities from the pole to my house are underground, about 200ft. After a couple of tries, Sonic bucket crews told me the conduit was blocked and I was on my own - either find a brave contractor to unblock the conduit, or cancel the order. Sonic could not/would not recommend anyone.

In April 2021, AT&T installed their 1G fiber in the same conduit so I could have that service from Sonic. They did say there was some difficulty with "dirt or something" in the conduit, but they persisted and it works.

Background: the house was under construction at the time of the Oakland Hills fire, and undergrounding of utilities was all the rage. That conduit has been under our shared asphalt driveway for 30+ years and digging up the driveway is not a good option.

Any recommendation for a reputable "brave" contractor to pull that fiber through the blockage from the pole to my house?

Thanks for any serious referral.
by virtualmike » Sun Dec 04, 2022 6:45 pm
If you have access to both ends of the conduit, you might try using a shop vac to try to pull a string through the conduit. That worked for us when our local cable company was unable to get the coax to our house through the underground conduit. This was in a brand new development. Apparently, the contractors didn't pay too much attention when working around the conduit, because the shop vac not only pulled the string through the conduit, but also nearly a cup of gravel.

There's a chance that your conduit may be broken and possibly even offset due to earth movement, in which case you'll probably need someone with more sophisticated equipment (such as a small camera like plumbers use to inspect sewer pipes).

Good luck!
by mgoldburg » Fri Dec 16, 2022 10:52 am
+1 on the Shop Vac trick. That worked for me on a brutal 50' run that I could not snake: multiple right angles and debris in the conduit (200' is a pretty long distance, though ...). Very gratifying to see the pull line shoot through the conduit after hours of failure with two different snakes. :)

Get a big shop vac. Seal the vacuum hose to the conduit with masking tape. Use lightweight pull line like this. Threading a small foam earplug -- smaller than the conduit diameter -- onto the end of the line helps to increase the vacuum's "pull" on the line.
by virtualmike » Sat Dec 17, 2022 9:34 pm
And if it doesn't work with the earplug or similar, try without before giving up. If the conduit has a a passageway with sufficient diameter for the string but not for the earplug, success might still be possible.
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