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What is a Construction Telecommunications Line Installers Job Description?

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Job Description

Line installers and repairers work on the vast networks of wires and cables that provide customers with electrical power and voice, video and data communications services. Electrical power-line installers and repairers, also called line erectors, install and maintain the networks of powerlines that go from generating plants to the customer. Telecommunications line installers and repairers install and repair the lines and cable that provide such services as cable television, telephone service, and the Internet to residential and commercial customers.

All line installers construct new lines by erecting utility poles and towers, or digging underground trenches, to carry the wires and cables. They may use a variety of construction equipment, including digger derricks, trenchers, cable plows, and borers. Digger derricks are trucks equipped with augers and cranes. Workers use augers to dig holes in the ground and use cranes to set utility poles in place. Trenchers and cable plows are used to cut openings in the earth for the laying of underground cables. Borers, which tunnel under the earth, are used to install tubes for the wire without opening a trench in the soil.
When construction is complete, line installers string cable along poles and towers or through tunnels and trenches. While working on poles and towers, installers use truck-mounted buckets to elevate themselves to the top of the structure, but sometimes they have to physically climb the pole or tower. Next, they pull up cable from large reels mounted on trucks, set the line in place, and pull up the slack so that it has the correct amount of tension. Finally, line installers attach the cable securely to the structure using hand and hydraulic tools. When working with electrical powerlines, installers bolt or clamp insulators onto the poles before attaching the cable. Underground cable is laid directly in a trench, pulled through a tunnel, or strung through a conduit running through a trench.

Other installation duties include setting up service for customers and installing network equipment. To set up service, line installers string cable between the customers premises and the nearest lines running on poles or towers or in trenches. They connect wiring to houses and check the connection for proper voltage readings. Line installers also may install a variety of network equipment. When setting up telephone and cable television lines, they install amplifiers and repeaters that maintain the strength of communications transmissions. When running electrical powerlines, they install and replace transformers, circuitbreakers, switches, fuses, and other equipment to control and direct the electrical current.

In addition to installation, line installers and repairers are responsible for maintenance of electrical, telecommunications, and cable television lines. Workers periodically travel in trucks, helicopters, and airplanes to visually inspect the wires and cables. Sensitive monitoring equipment can automatically detect malfunctions on the network, such as loss of current flow. When line repairers identify a problem, they travel to the location of the malfunction and repair or replace defective cables or equipment.
Bad weather or natural disasters can cause extensive damage to networks of lines. Line installers and repairers must respond quickly to these emergencies to restore critical utility and communications services. This can often involve working outdoors in adverse weather conditions.

Installation and repair work may require splicing, or joining together, separate pieces of cable. Each cable contains numerous individual wires; splicing the cables together requires that each wire in one piece of cable be joined to another wire in the matching piece. Line installers join these wires and the surrounding cables using small hand tools, epoxy (an especially strong glue), or mechanical equipment. At each splice, they place insulation over the conductor and seal the splice with moistureproof covering. At some companies, specialized cable splicing technicians perform splices on larger lines.
Telecommunications networks are in the process of replacing older conventional wire or metal cables with new fiber optic cables. Fiber optic cables are made of hair-thin strands of glass, which convey pulses of light. These cables carry much more information at higher speeds than conventional cables. Splicing fiber optic cable requires specialized equipment that carefully slices, matches, and aligns individual glass fibers. The fibers are joined by either electrical fusion (welding) or a mechanical fixture and gel (glue).

The work performed by electrical power-line installers and telecommunications line installers and is quite similar, but there are some differences. Working with powerlines requires specialized knowledge of transformers, electrical power distribution systems, and substations. In contrast, working with telecommunications lines requires specialized knowledge of fiber optics and telecommunications switches and routers.
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