Broadband expansion in Saarbrücken with soil displacement hammer

22.10.18 - Saarland is indeed by far the smallest state in the Federal Republic of Germany, but yet - or perhaps directly because of this - it is often one step ahead of the rest. It is present in the German media like no other state and is used to an unusual degree as a benchmark for many things in order to illustrate variables of countries or the extent of natural catastrophes. Examples include the following: "Switzerland is almost 16 times the size of Saarland", "[…] more than 1,000 square kilometres are under water – an area almost half as big as Saarland" or "based on the FIFA standard, 359,900 football fields fit into Saarland". In fact the expression "as big as Saarland" appears more than 275 times in a database on the Internet. Considerable attention for a small piece of Germany.


But there are also much more fundamental and really sustainable issues for which Saarland is the undisputed leader. One of these is broadband expansion, access to modern data networks. In 2014 the German government re-iterated an already existing objective in its digital agenda: by the end of 2018 so-called NGA ("Next Generation Access") networks are to be available throughout Germany enabling bandwidths of at least 50 Mbit/s. The Saarland is the first federal state in Germany with a real chance for the provision of NGA blanket coverage and thus become the first federal state with comprehensive high-speed Internet. The "NGA Network Expansion Saar" project of the State Chancellery and the special purpose association eGo-Saar was jointly launched as an important instrument for achieving such comprehensive supply. It covers undersupplied areas in rural as well as in urban regions and shall open up modern internet access to private households, businesses or institutions such as schools in the future.


In May 2017 the nationwide "NGA Network Expansiaon Saar" project with the corresponding project area was assigned to the three network operators Deutsche Telekom, inexio and VSE NET, each of which received around one third of the entire territory.
The network operators shall make the necessary investments to supply the areas with top-quality brodband. They are currently implementing the actual expansion measures. For the realisation by the end of 2018 around 400 km of new fibre optic routes are being marked out nationwide and new ductwork for cables and fibre optics will be installed along approximately 300 km of this route .
The project will be implemented by the municipal special purpose association eGo-Saar on behalf of all Saarland municipalities and districts as well as the state government.


Also within the region of the "Regionalverband Saarbrücken", which includes ten municipalities, there are areas where broadband expansion for high-speed Internet access is still missing. Here in many sections of villages and towns expansion measures for closing these gaps are becoming evident within the framework of the "NGA Network Expansion Saar" project. For instance, in the state capital: on the relatively steep slope of the Richard Wagner Str. in the Dudweiler district of Saarbrücken, there was a lot of going up and down and topsy-turvy in March 2018; cable ductwork for the insertion of fibre optic cables was waiting to be laid. Routine actually! This time, however, the standard involved one of many exceptions: the intended route for the fibre optic line ran along an approx. 30 m long stone stairway with landings and offsets, which was bordered on both sides by private property.


For contractor Robiné GmbH & Co. KG, earthworks and sewage construction company, who was awarded the contract for the installation of the cable protection pipes for the fibre optics, there is always a solution for all "exceptions", and in this case it was: "underground by means of a non-steerable soil displacement hammer". The well-established and reliable method impressed mainly on account of its speed on this uncommon route beneath the stairway: the pneumatic GRUNDOMAT75N (2-gear control plus reverse mode), equipped with a coring head, worked its way from a small starting pit precisely and effectively and like clockwork to a depth of approximately 1 m through the sandy soil beneath the steps. The exact direction was observed with the assistance of the telescopic aiming frame GRUNDOSCOPE 1.5 m to 2 m with surveyor stick and was checked and corrected if necessary after every drill section. The passage from one landing to the next was 4.50 m long and took merely six minutes. The hammer's coring head upsized the pilot bore directly to the full drilling diameter so that the 63 mm PE cable protection pipes for the 50 mm fibre optics could be inserted directly by hand through the bore hole.


The GRUNDOMAT75N managed between 12 m and 15 m per hour. For a bore length of around 30 m, net working time was no longer than two hours. The short time for site set-up, digging the small launch/target pits, actual installation and final pulling in of the ductwork for cables is nothing compared to open construction, where the dismantling and restoration of the stairs and landings alone would definitely take a few days. Michael Gastreich from TRACTO-TECHNIK who looked after Robiné on this project is obviously happy "that one saves so much time and money, because it simply runs beneath the surface and not on top, and nothing had to be torn down and rebuilt."


The installation works in the slope-located Richard Wagner Str. in the Dudweiler district of Saarbrücken is embedded in a subproject of the "NGA Network Expansion Saar" project, which belongs to the area of VSE NET and where a total of 10 km of fibre optic lines has to be installed. Patric Robiné, owner of Robiné GmbH & Co. KG, earthworks and sewage construction company, who has many years of experience with GRUNDOMAT, is satisfied with the speed and comfortable, effortless installation process, which two workers can easily manag. Installation of the remaining kilomeres will not be a long time coming.

The provision with a bandwidth of at least 50 Mbit/s all over the Saarland, paired with the application of displacement moles, are a good match: both are very successful and superfast.



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