LTC Connect has used fiber optic cable since the early 1990’s, and we are now investing heavily in fiber-to-the-home facilities throughout our area. In fact, 99% of our network is located underground to make our services as reliable as possible.
We understand that telecommunication services have become vital to commerce, healthcare, education, communications, entertainment, and public safety. Most businesses cannot operate without high-speed Internet. Customers often need high-speed Internet for their work, telehealth services, and so their children can complete their school work. Plus, most of our customers now use high-speed Internet for television streaming, gaming, social media, and communications. Our fiber also feeds many wireless towers that affect thousands of wireless subscribers, and our network would be critical in the case of a 911 emergency. Our network becomes more essential each day.
Recently, we have experienced many excavators and operators digging in our service area without making the legally required notifications. In far too many of these cases, our fiber has been damaged, and customers have experienced service outages. Due to the extensive use of our network for so many purposes, including 911 services, these costly outages are not just an inconvenience, but potentially could be life threatening. Most of the outages can be avoided if excavators, operators, or anyone digging will simply make the legally required notifications.
We strive to place fiber cables at depths of 30 inches or more, but sometimes rock, the presence of other utilities, and other ground conditions can lead to cables being placed at varying depths and locations. The fiber that serves the last portion of our network to a home or business is usually located at a shallower depth to avoid as much damage to the customer’s yard as possible. Once notified, we will be glad to show where and at what depth our cables are so any potential damage can be avoided. In difficult digging situations, we will work closely with the excavator to avoid damage to our network and service outages to our members.
LTC Connect is a member of the Kentucky 811 notification center, and excavators should call 811 or visit Kentucky811.org to make the proper work notifications as required by law. Under Kentucky Law, each excavator shall notify LTC Connect of the excavator’s intended work and work schedule at least two working days in advance.
An excavator is defined as any entity or individual, other than those exempted by KRS 367.4915, engaged in excavation, demolition, or timber harvesting using mechanized equipment.
The only exemptions to not notifying LTC Connect are listed in KRS 367.4915 and include:
- Excavation by an operator on its own easement except where that easement is crossed by another operator’s facilities;
- Routine road maintenance or railroad maintenance or repairs;
- Tilling of soil for agricultural purposes;
- Excavators excavating on private property, using nonmechanized equipment, if there is no encroachment on any operator’s right-of-way or easement;
- The opening of a grave in a cemetery;
- A solid waste disposal site which is properly permitted;
- Coal mining operations which are currently regulated under KRS Chapter 350;
- A utility operator or utility operator subcontractor performing emergency work**
- Leak migration testing using metal probes inserted by hand by an authorized representative of the operator; or
- Any nonintrusive excavating performed by an operator or his subcontractor to locate the operator’s underground facilities in response to a notice of excavation from the notification center, if all reasonable precautions have been taken to protect the underground facilities.
**NOTE: Emergency work means there exists substantial likelihood that loss of life or property, the inability to restore interrupted utility service, an imminent danger to health or the environment, or the blockage of public transportation facilities will result.
If there is an emergency, we request that the 811 notification center still be contacted and told there is an emergency, and we will do everything possible to get someone on-site, as soon as possible, to avoid any damage to our network.
Repairing fiber cables is expensive and much more difficult than repairing copper cables. Fiber is made up of glass strands and repair normally requires a section to be dug out and replaced with a new section of cable. This requires the placement of two new underground cases and the fusion splicing of each glass fiber back together. With fiber-to-the-home construction, we have fiber cables that now have hundreds of fibers that must be spliced back together. The cost of these cuts begins in the thousands of dollars and can go much higher depending on the size of the fiber and the ground conditions near the damage. This expense on Cooperative members is typically unnecessary and avoidable. In cases where excavators have illegally performed work without proper notifications, we are left with little choice, but to bill the excavator for this unnecessary damage and expense. The Cooperative will always locate our cables when notified. Often, we will even move our cables without charge if the landowner needs the area where our cables are located for their own purposes. We will locate on short notice in an emergency or urgent situation whenever possible. Unfortunately, we cannot locate or move our cables to avoid service outages and expense if we are not notified of the work to be done.
We thank so many of the excavators and operators that abide by the legal requirements and make the proper notifications each day. Unfortunately, there are a few careless excavators that either do not understand the law or ignore the law that cause most of the expense and outages. We encourage anyone that plans to dig to make the proper notifications through 811 to avoid damaging our cables as well as gas, electric, and water lines in the area.