Planning rollout of New Zealand’s ultra‐fast broadband program

Coping with a complex landscape

In brief

  • Visionstream is New Zealand’s leading telecom infrastructure provider
  • It has an ambitious nine-year project to rollout New Zealand’s ultra-fast broadband (UFB) network
  • Visionstream asked Comsof to adjust its software to cope with its specific needs. Resulting in quick problem solving, lower trenching costs and quality designs

The challenge

New Zealand’s Ultra-Fast Broadband program is a nine-year project which started in 2011. It aims at bringing high­speed fiber connections to 60% of New Zealand’s 4.5 million population. By the end of 2015 fiber was available to almost 900,000 customers, with a further 600,000 due to be covered by 2019.

Visionstream needed a tool able to cope with the specific technical landscape of the county’s complex existing copper network. And at the same time be able to plan the design for a modern high-speed fiber optic network.

The solution

The company knows that effective planning is the key to a smooth and sensible rollout. The answer was to customize an existing tool to meet the company’s specific needs. Visionstream trusted Comsof to tackle this challenging project. “I was at the 2015 FTTx Conference in Jakarta. And everybody was talking about Comsof Fiber”, confirms Garth Spencer, Visionstream’s UFB Project Director.

The Comsof engineers got to work after listing to Visionstream’s needs and requirements. With a satisfying result. “The end product delivered what we needed”, says Spencer. “That’s when we knew we’d made the right decision.”

“Comsof, together with GIS data provider Augview, is able to make sense of the existing underground and aerial pole network features. Next to the complex copper network, gas pipes, and electricity cables, even soil types are considered when designing the network. This provides us with a realistic solution.”

“Next to this, the tool can rapidly recalculate designs, using input from the field. We can run complex ‘what if?’ scenarios in real time: is it more cost effective to tap into existing ductwork or to dig a new trench? The software provides an almost instant answer.”

“The network rollout was ongoing for several years when we joined the project. So a lot of the design rules were already defined”, explains Jeroen Vanhaverbeke, COO of Comsof. “This meant we did a thorough design rule analysis. We gave onsite support as well, to further identify and discuss open points face-to-face and to train the users of Comsof Fiber. These efforts were well received, as Visionstream is still using our software today.”

“Comsof Fiber plans quickly and accurately. This means less time digging trenches, less disruption for the community, and making it quicker and smoother for everyone.”

Garth Spencer
Visionstream’s UFB Project Director

The results

30 percent less trenching costs

Visionstream inputs GIS data into Comsof Fiber, and the result is a detailed network planning able to save the company up to 30 percent on trenching and cabling costs. The brilliance of the software is the result of serious time spent by Comsof engineers addressing real-world fiber rollout issues.

Problem on Monday, solution by Tuesday

“The Comsof team has been flexible, highly engaged and thoroughly professional. So we were up to speed in a matter of days. We’d identify an issue on Monday, and by Tuesday there’d be a software update. We also had a local problem with incomplete and inaccurate records of the existing duct infrastructure. The Comsof engineers helped us make it work.”

Radical improvement of design quality

For Spencer, the extra care taken at the design stage yielded the biggest dividends for the New Zealand project. “Our increased focus on design radically improves quality, which saves huge costs later. Timely, swift and accurate planning means less time digging trenches, less disruption for the community. And also a quicker, smoother and a more cost-effective rollout.”


The future

The next challenge is to use Comsof Fiber to drill down on costs even more. “We’re looking to build a metric that will produce reliable figures at the push of a button over the next four years of the project”, concludes Spencer.