When the pandemic shut down schools and offices, remote learning and work became commonplace—but not for areas without internet connection. The Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program is bringing internet access to Native American reservations across the country. With more than 280 tribes requesting funds from the project, the need for telecommunications infrastructure has never been greater.
United Poly is proud to have the opportunity to help supply access to education and remote work for those in need. In 2021, we began a project that will ultimately provide 3.61 million feet—nearly 600 miles—of HDPE conduit to house fiber optic internet cables. This project connected 54 Navajo Early Childhood Education sites and Chapter House Libraries, as well as tens of thousands of homes across New Mexico and Arizona.
Bridging the digital divide with conduit
The project was a collaboration between United Poly Systems, broadband provider Sacred Wind Communications, contractor Rutherford Diversified Industries and resin manufacturer Dow, Inc. Funding for the project came from several government grants, including the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program.
Sacred Wind Communications supports broadband/telecommunications infrastructure in rural and tribal areas of New Mexico, including the Navajo reservation, and the Grants, Milan and Bluewater communities. Based in Yatahey, NM, they have installed hundreds of miles of fiber optic cable in the Southwest. Engineering contractor Rutherford Diversified completed the installation.
Nearly 600 miles of United Poly Systems HDPE conduit was installed during this project. The 1¼ -inch HDPE pipe was produced using Dow’s Continuum™ bimodal resin. Plastic pipe made from this resin has superior strength and quality. This durable pipe has high Environmental Stress Crack Resistance (ESCR), providing a longer service life than other materials. The pipe’s durability also allowed the installer to use long pull lengths with fewer breaks. Longer pull runs are beneficial, as they reduce environmental impact and wildlife disturbance during installation.
The size and length of this project required close collaboration between all parties and impeccable project management. Manufacturing and installing 3.16 million feet of conduit is no easy task, but United Poly worked closely with the installer and telecommunications company to ensure success.
When first approached about the project, United Poly responded quickly and offered competitive pricing. The initial shipments were delivered without delay and staged onsite for progressive installations. Both the planning and high-quality pipe paid off.
“Rutherford Diversified Industries, Inc. (RDI) has been using United Poly Systems conduit exclusively for the last ten years and has experienced a rare occurrence in the telecom construction industry: the quality of product and service after the sale are both five stars,” said Dan Rutherford, Vice President of RDI. “RDI has installed thousands of miles of conduit throughout the southwestern U.S. and is thankful that United Poly Systems provides such a great product with unsurpassed quality control.”
Connecting the country with conduit
Conduit is instrumental in bringing high-speed fiber optic internet access to rural and underserved parts of the U.S. High-quality HDPE pipe, like the conduit used in this project, is durable, easy to install and has numerous ESG benefits. HDPE conduit has a long service life, does not rust or corrode, and can withstand seismic or ground movement activity. The long service life and quick installation process both minimize disruptions to internet service and the environment. HDPE conduit is the superior material for housing the fiber optic cables that keep our country connected.