My advice to them? Don't obsess about it. There are some cases where you should be concerned about the physical security of your network, but at some point you're either going to have to trust an outside provider or run a cable through a secure area. In the case of this particular client, the risk seemed acceptable.
In the scenario you describe, an outside manhole shouldn't be a great concern. Once the traffic leaves your private network and enters the public Internet (which is of course where it goes once it leaves your building), none of the sensitive data should be sent without using encryption. Proper data encryption mitigates the risk of interception. There's no difference between someone climbing down a manhole and tapping your external connection and an eavesdropping hacker that compromises an intermediate router somewhere on the Internet.
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