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Cable cuts leading cause for telco disruption; IMDA to set earthworks procedures for contractors

Cable cuts leading cause for telco disruption; IMDA to set earthworks procedures for contractors

A worker arranges fibre-optic cables. (File photo: Reuters)

SINGAPORE: Telecommunication network operators and contractors will receive standardised requirements on earthworks to prevent cable cut incidents, which have been the main cause of telecom service disruptions in recent years, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) said on Monday (Mar 18).

By Jun 1, earthworks contractors will be "given greater clarity" on the new requirements, which will include detailed procedures and comprehensive safeguards against cable cut incidents, IMDA added.

Last November, about 10,000 users in the eastern parts of Singapore experienced disruptions to their fibre broadband Internet connection lasting more than a day.

A contractor had severed a number of fibre cables while performing construction works in Tampines, said network operator NetLink Trust. The contractor was not employed by NetLink Trust or its vendors.

READ: Fibre services in the east fully restored after disruption lasting more than a day

IMDA's investigations found that most cable cut incidents arose from earthworks contractors not following procedures laid out by telecommunication network facilities-based operators (FBOs) and failure to exercise due diligence.


There may be "confusion" among contractors because of the different requirements or procedures set by more than 20 FBOs which have cables underground, said IMDA.

IMDA, in consultation with FBOs and major contractors, has developed standardised earthworks requirements that will "enhance clarity and facilitate compliance" among contractors.

Set out in the requirements are the procedures and safeguards that contractors must observe before and during earthworks, including measures to divert telecommunication cables if needed.

FBOs will also be required to assist earthworks contractors, including confirming the locations of telecommunication cables at a work site.

Failure to comply with the requirements will be an offence under the Telecommunications Act.

READ: About 950 fibre broadband users in Yishun affected by cut cables - NetLink Trust

READ: Fibre broadband service disrupted for 700 users in Jurong - NetLink Trust

NetLink Trust chief operating officer Chye Hoon Pin supported the move.

"The additional measures will further reduce accidental damage to the critical fibre network infrastructure which can cause unnecessary inconvenience to the service providers and their customers," he said.

IMDA deputy chief executive and director-general (Telecoms and Post) Aileen Chia said Singapore's digital economy depends on resilient connectivity.

"We are encouraged by our industry’s positive reception to this initiative, and will continue to work with them and the construction industry to prevent telecommunication cable cuts and reduce inconvenience to our consumers and businesses," she added.

Source: CNA/jt(mi)


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