Outside plant contractors use ropes and tapes to to pull cable through pipe and duct.
The products must be strong. They must have very low stretch and low elastic properties. They must be have excellent strength-to-weight ratios. They must have non-abrasive surfaces.
And they must be in continuous lengths!
You'd assume 5,000 feet to mean 5,000 feet in one piece, but it's worth writing a note on your purchase order, especially if you're working with a new vendor.
In all cases, it is best to check with the manufacturer of the pulling equipment being used, the duct that you'll be working with, and the product you'll be installing. The rope spec must be matched to the job. Manufacturer specifications will specify rope type, safety factor between the machine capability and rope or tape tensile strength, and sometimes the specific product to be used. In many cases there are no variables, other than negotiating price and scheduling, for the outside plant contractor doing purchasing and the pull. And innerduct often comes with pre-installed pulling tape or rope.
That being said, here are the products in use:
Twisted polypropylene rope - This product has the advantages of low cost and light weight compared to other ropes, and of being produced in 25,000 foot and longer continuous lengths (again, confirm the 'continuous' part). However, it has more stretch than polyester rope or tape, so is not the best for pulling cable. This also applies to hollow braided polypropylene (water ski type) rope.
Braided specialty pulling ropes - Ropes are available which have straight polyester filament or braided polyester with a polyethylene overbraid, The polyester provides desirable high strength / low stretch characteristics, while the polyethylene surface greatly reduces friction. There are also specialty pulling ropes - including a 12 strand single braid made from Spectra as well as blends of Spectra and other fibers. Long - 5,000'- 10,000' and longer - continuous lengths are available.
These are more costly options than twisted poly, but for good reason.
Woven polyester pulling tape - This product is low stretch, light in weight, and is available in continuous lengths to 100,000'. It is frequently pre-installed in duct, but outside plant contractors may be called upon to blow it in on-site as well. Available options include footage markings and detectable wires to help locate buried product.
A number of lubricants, intended to reduce friction and heat buildup and make faster pull speeds possible, are available.
Here are two industry links you may want to bookmark or visit: