Are there any code requirements for buried communications cable (coax for TV/Internet)?
Rockdale County, GA if it makes a difference.

I have some jokers contractors at my house today who are supposed to be installing the cable, but their initial assessment when they arrived was "But it's already buried!" when they observed it to have been covered by 6 weeks worth of leaves - so I think it's understandable that I don't really trust them to do the job properly on their own initiative ...

  • Run a lawnmower over the leaves until the cable "breaks" and then make them fix it...
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Dec 4, 2017 at 23:51

2 Answers 2


The National Electrical Code has code explaining how to protect direct-buried broadband communications cables. However, they also provide an exception to that code, that allows cable companies to basically provide the cable no physical protection at all.

In the NEC you'll notice 830.47(C), which provides adequate protection to the buried cable.

National Electrical Code 2017

Chapter 8 Communications Systems

Article 830 Network-powered broadband Communications Systems.

830.47 Underground Network-Powered Broadband Communications Cables Entering Buildings.
(C) Mechanical Protection. Direct-buried cable, conduit, or other raceways shall be installed to meet the minimum cover requirements of Table 830.47(C). In addition, direct-buried cables emerging from the ground shall be protected by enclosures, raceways, or other approved means extending from the minimum cover distance required by Table 830.47(C) below grade to a point at least 2.5 m (8 ft) above finished grade. In no case shall the protection be required to exceed 450 mm (18 in.) below finished grade. Types BMU and BLU direct-buried cables emerging from the ground shall be installed in rigid metal conduit (RMC), intermediate metal conduit (IMC), rigid nonmetallic conduit, or other approved means extending from minimum cover distance required by Table 830.47(C) below grade to the point of enterance.

However, if you continue reading, you'll see the "do whatever you want" exception (that was likely put in the code by a large cable company).

Exception: A low-power network-powered broadband communications circuit that is equipped with a listed fault protection device, appropriate to the network-powered broadband communications cable used, and located on the network side of the network-powered broadband communications cable being protected.

Which basically means, the cable can lay right on top of the ground. Or be pushed just below the grass, as most cable/telecommunication companies do.

  • Would it be safe to assume that there's still a 'neat and workmanlike' clause which still applies (however loosely that could be interpreted)?
    – brhans
    Commented Dec 4, 2017 at 19:32
  • @brhans Yes there is, but I don't think a telecommunications drop has ever been inspected.
    – Tester101
    Commented Dec 4, 2017 at 19:38
  • @Tester101 One of my data-comm instructors (in the 70s) told us that Chicago required a permit, licensed electrician and inspection for data cables connecting machines that were powered by over 49 volts.
    – Upnorth
    Commented Dec 8, 2017 at 6:24
  • @Upnorth I'm sure that's true, however, I'm also sure the cable companies have some loophole.
    – Tester101
    Commented Dec 8, 2017 at 11:10
  • @Tester101 Yes, there is certainly a difference between a public utility employee and a private contractor installing computer equipment, although I haven't researched it in Illinois regulations.
    – Upnorth
    Commented Dec 9, 2017 at 19:55

However, there is a ground wire running alongside the fiber. Therefore it must be considered a low voltage wire, not just a zero voltage fiber set. That ground can and does carry current.

I would argue that the low voltage applies because of the ground.

Regardless, the SPECIFICATION for depth of the fiber burial includes that manufacturer specs takes precedence (all material manufacturer specs do in almost every trade). Every manufacturer I find requires fiber to have a minimum of 12 inches burial depth.

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