Last updated: 13 March 2023

Published on: 18 March 2019


Facilities-Based Operators to Implement Standardised Earthworks Requirements by 1 June to Minimise Telecommunication Cable Cuts

SINGAPORE – 18 March 2019: By 1 June 2019, earthworks contractors will have greater clarity on the requirements they have to comply with for projects carried out in the vicinity of underground telecommunication cables, through the issuance of a standardised set of Earthworks Requirements. The Earthworks Requirements were jointly developed by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and Facilities-Based Operators (FBOs) through an industry consultation together with major contractors. They aim to minimise the risk of telecommunication cable cut incidents, which have been a leading cause of telecommunication service disruptions in recent years, and to provide greater clarity for both FBOs and earthworks contractors in terms of the requirements to be adopted. 

To prevent damage to the FBOs’ telecommunications cables, the Earthworks Requirements set out detailed, step-by-step procedures and comprehensive safeguards that earthworks contractors must observe before commencing and while undertaking earthworks. They also specify the measures that contractors must comply with when FBOs’ telecommunication cables need to be diverted. Failure to comply with these requirements would be an offence under the Telecommunications Act.

IMDA’s investigations into past telecommunication cable cut incidents revealed that most incidents had occurred due to earthworks contractors not following procedures laid out by the FBOs, and failing to exercise due diligence when undertaking earthworks. In addition, these procedures are not standardised among the FBOs today, and vary in terms of standard and comprehensiveness. Today, more than 20 FBOs have underground cable infrastructure with differing sets of requirements/procedures for contractors, which may lead to confusion among the contractors.

The Earthworks Requirements will therefore enhance clarity and facilitate compliance for earthworks contractors, who will now only have to comply with a standardised set of requirements, even when undertaking projects with different FBOs.

The Earthworks Requirements will also require FBOs to do their part in assisting earthworks contractors. For example, the Earthworks Requirements will mandate FBOs to attend joint site meetings and trial hole inspections to verify that the earthworks contractors have ascertained the locations of the FBOs’ telecommunication cables before commencing any earthworks.

FBOs are required to adopt the Earthworks Requirements and implement the necessary procedures/steps by 1 June 2019.

Mr Chye Hoon Pin, Chief Operating Officer of NetLink Trust, said: “As the owner and operator of an extensive nationwide fibre network, we are fully supportive of the revised process. 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.”

Mr Tay Yeow Lian, Singtel Managing Director of Networks, said: “Having put in place preventative measures for contractors, we welcome the move by IMDA to implement tighter regulations and promote greater cooperation across the industry. This will raise operational standards in the industry, help reduce inadvertent cable cuts and minimise disruptions to customers.”

Ms Aileen Chia, IMDA’s Deputy Chief Executive and Director-General (Telecoms & Post), said: “Our Digital Economy is built on resilient connectivity. The standardised Earthworks Requirements will ensure that contractors and FBOs have the right processes when they work on our telecommunication infrastructure. 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.”

The Earthworks Requirements can be accessed via this link.



About Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA)

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) leads Singapore’s digital transformation with infocomm media. To do this, IMDA will develop a dynamic digital economy and a cohesive digital society, driven by an exceptional infocomm media (ICM) ecosystem – by developing talent, strengthening business capabilities, and enhancing Singapore's ICM infrastructure. IMDA also regulates the telecommunications and media sectors to safeguard consumer interests while fostering a pro-business environment, and enhances Singapore’s data protection regime through the Personal Data Protection Commission. 

For more news and information, visit or follow IMDA on Facebook IMDAsg and Twitter @IMDAsg.

For media clarifications, please contact: 

Mr Jason Lee 
Senior Manager, Communications and Marketing 
Infocomm Media Development Authority 
DID: (65) 6751 2862 

Mr Chua Hian Hou
Deputy Director, Communications and Marketing
Infocomm Media Development Authority
DID: (65) 6202 4956

Ms Liow Ruo Yu
Assistant Manager, Communications and Marketing
Infocomm Media Development Authority
DID: (65) 6751 2828

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