Telstra phone cables are supposed to be clearly marked on a publicly-available data base. But local rural councils struggle wit
Telstra phone cables are supposed to be clearly marked on a publicly-available data base. But local rural councils struggle wit

Councils take on Telstra over cables

By Jamie Brown jamie.brown@northernstar.com.au TENTERFIELD mayor Toby Smith is tired of paying to repair Telstra cables when they are laid in obviously poor positions.

And he has an ally in Kyogle Council's asset services manager Graham Kennett.

Both rural councils struggle to avoid some of Telstra's older cables, especially when they are laid in shallow trenches, and they are keen to work with Telstra to create a system that will help rural councils in their dealings with Telstra's infrastructure.

Telstra, meanwhile, says councils and contractors must 'dial before they dig', using the well-known number 1100. Otherwise they run the risk of fouling cable, and paying for their mistakes.

Mr Smith says the 'dial before you dig number' is only available during business hours, and he cites one example at Urbenville when a water main burst and the need to dig immediately presented problems.

"We were in the middle of water restrictions. It was after business hours and we had to dig up the pipe," he explained.

Yet despite careful prodding a phone cable was unearthed and damaged just 100mm below the surface of a concrete driveway. It should have been buried deeper than 400mm.

Tenterfield Council faced a bill of more than $2800 from Telstra.

Mr Kennett says Telstra's 'dial before you dig' data base often lacks accuracy. And new contractors lack local knowledge, making work difficult.



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