Giving the Alps gigabit access

IN.GE.NA designs a fiber optic network in the Alps

In brief

  • IN.GE.NA is a South Tyrolean engineering company
  • A few years ago it started to plan fiber optic networks in the Italian and Austrian region of the Alps
  • The company trusts Comsof software to automate the planning process of these vast networks

The challenge

It started in 2012. “That’s when one of our clients was preparing for fiber network deployment in the Italian part of the Alps”, explains Marco Molon, partner at IN.GE.NA. “The company asked us to support them in their planning process. As this is such a vast area, we considered automated planning software. Manual drawing was not an option anymore.”

“It’s not easy to deploy a fiber network in the Alps, because the underground is quite rocky. That’s why our partners use microtrenching. They only go a few tens of centimeters below ground. This is easier than going deeper underground, or to use poles, especially in forested areas with sometimes extreme weather conditions and long distances to overcome. As trenching in an area like this is pricy, it is vital to find the most cost-efficient routes.”

The solution

“We did some research online for suitable software. One of the solutions we found was Comsof Fiber. Comsof Fiber fitted well with our requirements and we saw a good cost-benefit balance.”

“We grew step by step”, adds Michael Fey, engineer at IN.GE.NA. “As we were new to composing automated design masterplans, we started composing networks of around 2000 homes, this number grew a lot since then.”

“We also started to compare different topologies. We started analyzing which networks would have a shot at being financed, and which ones won’t. And at every step of the way, we could rely on the support of the Comsof engineers. The software has advanced a lot during the past years, and we were able to evolve together with it.”

“We are the first – and probably the only ones – who dared to automate their planning process. Therefore, we have the upper hand.”

Marco Molon
Partner at IN.GE.NA

The results

A competitive advantage

“South Tyrol is a province of about 500.000 people”, says Marco. “So it is an interesting market for engineering companies. We are the first – and probably the only ones – who dared to automate their planning process. Therefore, we have the upper hand. We were able to increase our customer base by 30 percent because we have a tool that others do not have. A tool that allows us to deliver solutions to complex problems, with a smaller budget.”

Compatible with open source software

Michael: “Many of our customers are small municipalities. Because Comsof Fiber is compatible with the free open source platform QGIS, it is easy for us to show them the results of our calculations.”

Swift support

“We appreciate the support we get from the Comsof team. We always receive a solution to a problem or question. When we suggest improvements to the software, they take it into consideration.” “And a few weeks ago, we had some tight deadlines to meet for a customer, we would not have made it without the support of Comsof. This was very valuable”, concludes Marco.

Favorite features: Cost per home calculation and no feeder connection

As connecting 100 percent of your network can be pricy, Comsof Fiber offers the possibility to calculate the cost per home. With this feature you discover the total cost of every building in your network. The trenching and material cost are considered for example. Knowing this makes it easy to exclude or delay connecting the most expensive points.

If you wish to delay connection and you want to save cost and time, you can use the ‘no feeder connection’ attribute. With this feature, Comsof Fiber takes the homes into account to foresee duct capacity on sections that are shared with other homes. This way you don’t have to reopen a trench later on when you decide to connect them. You just need to deploy fiber in a duct you installed on beforehand. However, you will still need to trench the last part up to the building.