Protecting our network

Much of our network is hidden underground. If you're planning to dig or excavate, we offer a range of services to help you avoid damaging our network. Damage can be expensive to repair and can impact critical telecommunication services to homes, businesses and emergency services.

Before you dig

If you're planning to excavate, the last thing you want to do is hit a cable. Please play it safe by using our cable location services to check what's underground before you dig.

If you're a homeowner wanting to replace a fence, a contractor installing a new cable or pipe along a street, or working for a council on a new roading or footpath project, beforeUdig.co.nz is the best place to start your project. Not only will you avoid damaging underground telecommunications, power, water and gas services, but it also ensures the safety of the people working on your project.

beforeUdig.co.nz is a free service to help you avoid damaging underground services when digging or excavating. 

If you do damage our network, you may be charged for repairs.

Please use beforeUdig.co.nz if you're:

  • designing or building new underground assets
  • doing road or footpath restoration works
  • planning maintenance on existing underground assets
  • building a new fence
  • laying a new driveway
  • planning a new subdivision or development
  • undertaking cultivation on a paddock that you may not have done before - underground assets can often be found under rural land, particularly those close to roads.

beforeUdig.co.nz services

The beforeUdig.co.nz service aims to:

  1. simplify the process of requesting plans from asset owners
  2. reduce the number of personal injuries
  3. protect underground assets from interruption and preventable damage
  4. provide a single point of request for information on where underground assets are located
  5. coordinate with contractors, asset owners and government to set standards for essential infrastructure protection

To use this free service, register on their website to request plans.

To submit your request, you need to:

  • provide details of your planned works including date, location and activity type.
  • draw the works on a map - you can use their mapping tool.

We'll confirm your request is received and you'll get information on underground services in the location within 48 hours.

Please allow enough time to receive this before your planned start date.

On-site service

If you're working above or very close to our network, you can request full on-site cable location assistance from our service technicians. Where high capacity cables are at risk, we offer a free ‘standover' service with our technician on site in an advisory role during excavation.

If you’d like us to visit your site, the beforeUdig centre will electronically page a service technician with your request. Once the cable is located, its position is marked with purple paint as a digging guide. Begin work carefully to find the cable's exact location.

A fee is charged for all on-site cable locations including those on private property unless the cables are shown to be our core distribution cables, in which case we'll mark these out free of charge.

If you work for a company regularly involved with earthworks, we offer free telecommunications network awareness training for your staff which emphasises the importance of identifying underground services and using safe digging practices. Companies and individuals completing the programme receive a certificate recognising their participation.

Safer digging

Accidentally digging up a buried cable can be expensive and inconvenient - not just for us, but for you too. By following a few simple rules, you can avoid cables and the hassle of damaging them.

1. Plan 

Before you start digging, visit beforeUdig.co.nz to request a cable plan for your site. If the plan shows our cables in the area, you can:

  • request an on-site cable location, or
  • apply for a free set of service plans.

2. Locate cable 

If you request an on-site cable location, our technician will show you where cables are located by marking the ground with purple lines as a digging guide.

3. Hand dig 

A corridor marked by two dashed purple lines shows approximately where our cables run. Where high capacity cables are at risk, we offer a free ‘standover' service with our technician on site in an advisory role to assist your digging.

You must hand dig to find the exact position and depth of the cable before full excavation begins.

Note: For all high capacity cables (e.g. fibre cables), a line is marked 750mm (or occasionally more if required) on either side of the estimated cable route. To minimise the risk of damage, we recommend using hand tools (where possible) to dig within the two marked lines.

Damaged cables 

To report damage to our network, cut cables, damaged cabinets or pillars, please call 0800 4 NETWORK (0800 463 896).

If you do damage our cables, cabinets or plinths or spot damage to our network, it's important to contact us right away. Please don't hide or attempt to repair it. Even if there's no obvious wire or fibre breakage, moisture could penetrate an incorrectly patched cable, causing disruption to phone and/or broadband services.

If you've taken all reasonable precautions and followed our Safer Digging rules above, there should be no charge. However, if cable damage has been caused by irresponsibility, carelessness or negligence, we will bill the organisation or individual responsible.

The average cost to repair a damaged cable is approximately $750, however repair costs can range from $200 to more than $200,000 so it pays to take care.

Safer digging for homeowners

Digging post holes for a new fence? Replacing your driveway? Whenever you dig around your property, please think of our network which may not be too far from the surface. Damaging our cables can severely impact your neighbours and the wider community.

Damaging our cables can mean:

  • 111 calls can't get through to emergency services
  • Cellphone towers may be cut off from the network
  • Businesses lose telephone, internet, email and EFTPOS services
  • Residential customers are similarly impacted but may also lose access to medical and security alarms

Watch our video to give you pointers on safer digging:

beforeUdig.co.nz 

If you're doing any work around the boundaries of your property or think there may be cables passing underground, please visit beforeUdig.co.nz to check. You can request network locations through the website and it's a free service.

Safer digging for contractors

Damaging our network can have serious consequences:

  • 111 calls can't get through to emergency services
  • Cellphone towers may be cut off from the network
  • Businesses lose telephone, internet, email and EFTPOS services
  • Residential customers are similarly impacted but may also lose access to medical and security alarms

Find out more about the impact of cable cuts and more importantly locating cables and how to avoid damaging our network by watching our Network Protection video:

Damage to our network is easily avoidable. We can provide information on our network at a specific location through beforeUdig.co.nz.

We can also physically locate the cable for you and remain on site while you're excavating near high capacity cables. There's a charge for this service unless our network is located on private property.

Always physically locate the cable by careful potholing, hand digging or hydro excavation. And be sure to confirm there's nothing under our network too.

Contact us in advance 

A bit of planning can make a big difference - we only need two working days' notice to get our network plans to you.

A normal plan request sent to beforeUdig.co.nz takes us less than two working days to action and send back to you.

If you need information at shorter notice, please ring 0800 463 896.

If we get an after hours request (0800 111 124), we'll send a service company cable locator instead of the plans but you'll be charged a callout fee as well as the standard location fee.

What plans look like 

Our plans come in a number of formats which we convert to a PDF and email to you.

Line drawings (.tif or hardcopy)
Aerial photo (.jpeg or hard copy)
Electronic CAD plans (.dwg)

Marking cables 

We use purple paint or chalk to mark the following:

  • Dots show approximate cable location
  • Dashed lines show the cable corridor (variable width according to plant)
  • Count/type of assets are marked and where there's a change: two ducts become one duct
  • Plant ownership is marked at regular intervals
Our basic mark out standards

Potholing 

Standover means we'll provide someone to be on-site as work within 750mm of a high capacity cable route is underway. This is FREE after the initial location fee has been paid.

Potholing should be carried out on the dotted purple line at ten metre intervals (or less if you have concerns) to confirm the presence of our network.

However, when you're working near a high capacity route, you need to take extra care:

  • Potholing every five metres or less
  • Our network must be exposed by hand digging first, then you can use machinery
  • A stand-over agent needs to be on site during the digging
  • Open cut trenching or hydro excavation has to be used

Cable joints 

You need to take extreme care when you're working around our cable joints. They need to be supported, particulary the older pressurised lead sheath cable closures that often become brittle over time. If water seeps into the joints our services are likely to be affected.

Take extreme care around cable joints

Damaging our network 

Don't try fixing damage yourself. Call us on 0800 463 896 to report it.

If you do damage our network, please leave the excavation open and call us immediately so we can send our service technicians to repair.

If you accidentally damage the cable sheath while potholing and there's no service loss, we'll repair the sheath with no cost to you.

If you damage our network through negligent or irresponsible practises, we'll recover the full cost of repairs from the contractor responsible or the company who owns the project.

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