Microtrenching Rules

Adopted Rules: Closed to Comments

Effective Date: 
Saturday, January 18, 2014


Statement of Basis and Purpose of Rule

These rules revise the rules of the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) by adding a chapter authorizing and regulating the use of microtrenching by the City’s telecommunications franchisees.

Microtrenching is a technique for installing fiber-optic cable to provide telecommunications services.  By contrast to conventional trenching, microtrenching involves a shallower and narrower cut that can be made either in the expansion joint between the sidewalk and the curb or within the roadway.  Because microtrenching is a faster and less expensive method to install cable conduit, as demonstrated by the pilot program described below, microtrenching will support the City’s goal of expanding broadband access to all of the City’s neighborhoods.

Starting in November 2012, DoITT and the Department of Transportation conducted a pilot program with Verizon New York Inc. to test the viability of microtrenching as an alternative to conventional trenching.  DoITT was interested in determining whether microtrenching would be  faster and cost less than conventional trenching, and whether microtrenched fiber-optic cable would perform as well as fiber-optic cable installed by conventional trenching. The Department of Transportation was interested in determining whether microtrenching would be less disruptive to pedestrian and vehicular traffic and less destructive to the structural integrity of the streets. 

During the pilot program, Verizon performed microtrenching in varied neighborhoods of all five boroughs.  The pilot program demonstrated that microtrenching can be considerably faster and significantly less expensive than conventional trenching.  The pilot program produced no indication of reduced fiber-optic cable performance.  Based on the results of the pilot program, DoITT has decided to authorize microtrenching as an alternative to conventional trenching.  The Department of Transportation has determined that microtrenching is less disruptive to traffic and requires less extensive restoration work, and therefore has also decided to authorize microtrenching as an alternative to conventional trenching.  The Department of Transportation will issue separate rules for microtrenching permits.

These rules authorize telecommunications franchisees to perform microtrenching in compliance with Department of Transportation permits.  The rules:

·        specify the procedural requirements for microtrenching,

·        provide for DoITT’s monitoring of microtrenching after it is installed, and

·        provide for penalties for violations of these rules.

In addition, the rules require the installation of “excess capacity” – extra ducts capable of housing fiber-optic cable owned by the City or by other telecommunications franchisees.  The Verizon pilot program similarly required Verizon to install excess capacity and make the extra ducts available to the City and to other telecommunications franchisees. DoITT has determined that retention of the pilot program’s requirement to install excess capacity will serve DoITT’s interest in expanding residential and commercial access to broadband without undue cost to the telecommunications franchisee that performed the original microtrenching.

The rules permit the owner of microtrenched conduit to charge another telecommunications franchisees up to 75 cents per year per foot of duct occupied by the telecommunications franchisee.  DoITT expects to revisit this rate approximately four years after these rules become effective.

The rules also provide for DoITT to maintain an inventory of excess capacity, and it is DoITT’s intention that the inventory will ultimately be posted on the City’s web site.

These rules are promulgated pursuant to DoITT’s rulemaking authority under section 1043 of the Charter of the City of New York.


Proposed Rule: