Vattenfall Eurofiber Revolutionizes Berlin’s Fiber Deployment Through Innovative Tunnel Technology

Vattenfall Eurofiber Revolutionizes Berlin's Fiber Deployment Through Innovative Tunnel Technology

In Berlin, within the long-established and recently expanded tunnel network of the district heating system, Vattenfall Eurofiber is swiftly deploying fiber optic cables using robots. “How slow are the others then?”

queried Mate Renic, Director of Network Deployment at Vattenfall Eurofiber, during a conversation with Inside Digital and on November 23, 2023, in Berlin. Renic stated, “We can cover extensive distances without the need for street excavations or approval procedures.”

Vattenfall Eurofiber isn’t troubled by concerns voiced by competitors, such as rising costs in the construction market or shortages in skilled labor. “We manage all of that very well with our own coordination,” Renic explained.

The majority of fiber optic installations occur within existing district heating channels, significantly reducing the need for extensive excavation work. These pipes are situated within tunnels, leveraging Vattenfall’s district heating, which spans 800 to 900 kilometers of tunnel systems in the eastern and western parts under the city.

However, expanding within these tunnels presents challenges: there are 90-degree bends every hundred meters, and the passageways are often too small for a person to work in, necessitating the use of laying robots.

Vattenfall Eurofiber keeps its robots well concealed

For years, Vattenfall Eurofiber has kept these laying robots a closely guarded secret. Even at Vattenfall Eurofiber’s booth at the Climate Festival in Berlin, only an outdated model with controls was showcased.

Initially a joint venture between the Swedish energy company Vattenfall and the Dutch-Belgian fiber optic network operator Eurofiber, Vattenfall Eurofiber now belongs entirely to Eurofiber.

Vattenfall’s heating business in Berlin employs approximately 1,700 individuals and supplies around 1.4 million residential units with hot water and warmth. The heating network in Berlin spans over 2,000 kilometers in total.

“Some of the pipes and tunnels were built before the war, some were renewed after the war,” Renic explained. “It’s very damp and warm in there.” The robots lay a traction cable, following which the Speedpipes or a multi-pipe assembly, when feasible, are installed.

Renic noted that since mid-2021, significant progress has been made in laying fiber over a substantial double-digit kilometer range. In areas without a district heating network or where tunnels are sealed, conventional excavation methods are employed.

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Carl Woodrow
A seasoned tech enthusiast and writer, Carl delves deep into emerging technologies, offering insightful analysis and reviews on the latest gadgets and trends.