WHEREAS land-based Telus telephone/data cable provides a vital communications link for residents in rural Alberta;
WHEREAS Telus service upgrading and municipal road construction requires that temporary cable be installed to ensure there is no disruption in telephone service;
WHEREAS the temporary cable is typically laid on top of the ground or strung on a fence creating a potential hazard for the public and farm activities if not removed in a timely manner;
WHEREAS the exposed telephone/data cable in the ditches can be easily damaged or severed resulting in disruption of vital communication services;
WHEREAS damage or severance of the cable may result in unnecessary costs to the farmer and disruption of vital communication services;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request that Telus be required to mark clearly their temporary cable to prevent damage to the cable or injury to the public;
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that Telus ensure that their temporary cable is removed from the road ditches within a one-year timeframe.
This resolution simply updates expired Resolution 8-04S. It has been the experience of Ponoka County that Telus continues not to mark their temporary cable and may take several years to replace temporary with permanent cable. Further, we have had farmers upset that their farm equipment severed a temporary line that was not visible and were forced to pay for its repair. Temporary cable presents a real hazard for equipment, ATV’s, snowmobiles, highway maintenance equipment, livestock, etc. Without this service, communication in emergency situations becomes limited.
The AAMDC has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.
Thank you for your letter of January 14, 2011, in which you outline your resolution concerning TELUS’ practice of using temporary cables to deliver telephony services, specifically the length of time those temporary cables may be left exposed. Your letter also asked TELUS to comment on two items: (1) that TELUS mark the temporary cable to prevent damage to the cable or injury to the public, and, (2) that TELUS ensure the temporary cable is buried within a one-year timeframe.
TELUS currently marks the temporary cables but is also evaluating different methods and processes by which the temporary cable could be marked for better visibility and longevity. The evaluation of those methods is expected to be completed by the end of June 2011, at which time, pending new marking methods are deemed to have value, TELUS will change its processes.
As you may be aware, 90% of all temporary cable in the field is the result of County / Municipality / Alberta Transportation road construction. TELUS has signed Municipal Access Agreements with many Alberta counties and municipalities that allow TELUS access to Right of Ways at no cost, with the understanding that TELUS will relocate the cable when notified of road construction. The process is a two-phased approach: (1) lay the new cable out temporarily while the road is under construction, and (2) replace the temporary cable for permanent facilities. It is the deployment of permanent facilities that represents a substantial capital cost that is also impacted by factors such as weather and ground conditions, availability of human resources, as well as other strategic and financial considerations.
In 2010, TELUS laid out approximately 650,000 meters of temporary cable to accommodate road construction. Approximately 300,000 meters of the temporary cable was placed back into the ground. In 2011, the budget for laying out temporary cable in anticipation of a road move is approximately $7.2m. For the 2011 construction season, TELUS has identified approximately 370,000 meters of cable to be placed back into the ground, and has allocated a budget of $8.8m towards this program.
In summary, TELUS has budgeted approximately $16m towards the laying out of temp cables and placing the temporary cable back into the ground, all for facilitating road moves generated by the needs of counties, municipalities and Alberta Transportation. TELUS does not generate any profit with this expense.
As stated above, TELUS’ program to place the temporary cable back into the ground is constrained by three considerations. First: weather is a major factor, not only when the plow season can start and when it will end, it also depends if plowing can be done on any given day. Second: there is a limited amount of contactors available to do the work, and they can only plow a set amount in the day.
Third: while TELUS typically allocates the plow budget component to take into account an estimate of the maximum amount of plowing that can be done in a season, TELUS must balance its available resources against the importance of fulfilling service applications against placing the temporary cable back into the ground.
With respect to your request of placing the temporary cable back into the ground in the same construction year as it was laid out, this is not an achievable target for the challenges mentioned above, often out of our control.
TELUS recognizes the issues with temporary cable and we will continue to monitor the situation and make best efforts to minimize service issues to our customers. We appreciate the opportunity to comment on these issues, and we encourage any municipality with specific concerns to contact myself at (780) 493-7336 or their local TELUS General Manager:
Alberta North: Derek Keturakis (780) 792-5753
Alberta Central: Yolanta Miller (780) 493-6068
Alberta South: Fred Weinheimer (403) 529-3494
Again, thank you for the opportunity to respond.
Director, Government Relations
While Telus shared that they have a $16 million budget for laying out temporary cables and placing them back into the ground, this implies that they see their status quo as acceptable. Having a one-year time-limit on putting temporary cable back in the ground is seen as not feasible. However, the AAMDC has had meetings with members of TELUS Customer Solutions Delivery Team and has circulated their contact information to the membership via member bulletin. This team is willing to work with municipalities in an effort to address local priorities within the budget they have available. The AAMDC encourages municipalities to work with these managers directly and will continue to view this resolution as unsatisfactory until such a time where a larger effort is made to remove temporary cables entirely.