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Re: Broadband Cable Was Cut Outside Accidentally, Open Reach may need to resolve, Will I Be Charged?

Alessandro Volta

The first post is a bit hard to read but I think the neighbour's cable survived the fence installation (but the OP thought it was their own cable). The OP's cable was cut but this was not noticed until after the fencing work, if I have understood it correctly.

(Edit: The topic seems to have been mangled in a move between forums. The OP is @tierneyspence, not me!)


Tuning in

We had some the turf removed in and a fence put up in our front garden this weekend and we discovered that our broadband cables are really shallowly buried (less than an inch under the soil) and not in any kind of armouring, so when the workers for the fence came we'd made sure to make sure to let them know where what we thought was our broadband cable was so that they wouldn't damage it, and they were very good and made sure not to.

However, it turns out that cable is actually our neighbour's broadband cable (for some reason their cable runs entirely on our land and doesn't run across their land at all, which I find strange and can't see the reasoning behind, as they have their own front garden and there's no reason their cable shouldn't or couldn't run across their land to their box). Ours was buried ever so slightly deeper (maybe another half inch), so we didn't see it, and must've been cut at some point during the day while they were digging holes for the fence posts. But we didn't realise until the work was completed.

We have a VM engineer coming out, but a fence post that is now concreted in is blocking the other end of the severed cable that comes from the street and I'm sure that Open Reach may need to be called to resolve the issue. 

I can't find anything concrete online about who is liable in this situation, and Virgin make it physically impossible to speak to an actual human being for any kind of support. You can't even tell the engineer what the problem is before they come. So I'm really worried that we will be charged by Virgin or OpenReach for something that was a genuine accident, especially when we'd been so careful as to make sure what we thought was the cable wasn't damaged cut. 

It's honestly so shallowly buried I'm surprised it hasn't been damaged before doing simple gardening. Basically I just want to know if we will be expected to pay Open Reach if they need to come out to do the repair? 


If you are a VM customer, Openreach doesn't feature in the repair process. VM has its own cables and maintains them.

If you have a VM tech booked then all you can do is wait. If the cable ends are accessible (or can be pulled out of the ground to access) and the cable is coax then a VM tech may be able to join them together in some way.

Fee for a non-fault call out is £25 (if VM decides to charge you) but don't go into too many details about how/when the cable got cut. Just wait and see what happens. It should really be the fencing contractor who pays for any costs as they should be checking for buried services.

If the cable can't be repaired, you will need a new one installing. Outcomes for that might be more uncertain as VM's cable installation lead times can be ... variable!

Your neighbour must be the one to contact their telephone / internet providers and report the outage.
As you are not the customer, you do not have any involvement in the outage reporting or repair process.

Thanks, would there be a charge beyond the £25 call out fee if new cables need to be installed? I'm fairly certain they won't be able to just fix it because one end of the cable is inaccessible under the pavement and now blocked by one of the new fence posts.

Tuning in

Apologies for any confusion on the thread, my neighbours cable is absolutely fine. We made sure it was protected because we thought it was our cable (as we hadn't realised both ours and our neighbours cables ran underneath our garden). Our cable is the one that was cut. 

I also really wouldn't want to go after the company who did the fences as we have a really good relationship with them and I wouldn't want to put them off doing work for us in the future. Besides, I don't consider that they did anything wrong. We showed them where our cable was (or what we thought was our cable, anyway) and they were very careful and made sure not to damage it. None of us knew about or saw the other cable (because why would we assume our neighbours cable runs across our lawn when there's no possible reason for it to - other than laziness on the part of whoever installed the cables in the first place). 

Tuning in

Just adding that this has been resolved (sort of). We got very lucky and there was an access port in the pavement near the break so the engineer was able to dig out the other end of the severed cable and patch it.

He didn’t seem to care that it meant it couldn’t be buried again and there’s now a permanently exposed piece of cable going from the pavement, up over the concrete edging and back down into our garden, meaning it’s constantly open the the weather, animals, and not to mention it’s a trip-hazard. I definitely foresee it breaking again the next time our neighbour’s little boy next get’s his tricycle out to ride around the estate… but the engineer’s sentiment seemed to be “well I can fix it easily so I can’t be bothered asking the council for permission to dig to fix it properly.” Not surprised this was the attitude from Virgin considering how terribly the cables were laid in the first place…

At least my wifi is working and I wasn’t forced to pay anything or go after good workers who did a good job, for something I consider to have happened to due to Virgin’s laziness. 

The aim of the technician's job was to reconnect your services. An initial repair might not look that pretty but the aim is to get you back online again.

If you think the repair is not suitable for long term use, or you think the cable is at risk of being damaged again, post up some photos on here of what you have been left with and which illustrate the problem.

The VM forum team will then be able to see the issue and forward on for further action if deemed necessary.