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Home arrow Engineering arrow Broadband Wireless Communications for Railway Applications: For Onboard Internet Access and Other Applications


Wireless communications have been deeply integrated into people’s life and current public telecommunication services increased the needs of mobility services. In this context, the current works in standardization groups, such as 3GPP (including evolution towards 5G systems) are dealing with the future wireless radio communications able to answer the increasing high demands of mobile phone users in terms of availability, throughput and reliability. Indeed, the multiplication of mobile terminals, such as smartphones and tablets, leads to a need of ubiquitous connection, everywhere and all the time. Thus, the future wireless technologies will be designed in order to create an ecosystem for technical and business innovation. The telecommunication infrastructures will provide network solutions for many domains, including transportation.

These trends are observed also in the railway domain which relies more and more on wireless communications for vital and non-vital applications related to train operation and passenger demands. Several applications are concerned with various needs such as safety, reliability, availability or high capacities.

The European Rail Research Advisory Council (ERRAC) targeted for the year 2020 to double passenger traffic by rail. Such a goal should be achieved reducing costs, enhancing environmental sustainability and offering new services to passengers. For instance, broadband Internet access has become, in recent years, an essential and highly expected service, whatever the time of the day and regardless the location (home, office or public places, transportation). One can observe the development of services such as “remote desktop” or Quality of Service (QoS) of broadband Internet access for a variety of applications such as messaging, Video on Demand (VoD), Voice over IP (VoIP), TeleVision (TV), streaming, videoconferencing, etc.

Ensuring broadband links between trains and infrastructure also allows considering, for network managers and railway industries, applications hitherto difficult to ensure. Some stakeholders talk about “networked trains”, able to ensure several applications, such as real-time video surveillance from inside the carriages, or track inspection in direct link with the Control Center by data feedback of measurements and diagnosis.

Several wireless communications can be set up in the railway context, such as communication between equipment, between vehicles, between consists and between train and ground. The book focuses on the wireless communication link between train and ground. The first chapter presents the needs of railway operators in terms of wireless communications found in the literature. All these needs can be established from a complete study of user needs and use cases. The needs can be divided in two main categories: the commercial services to make on board traveling more comfortable and pleasant, such as Internet access and associated applications, and the operational needs, such as surveillance, maintenance and diagnosis. The second chapter focuses on the definitions of all available technologies and combination of technologies that can be used to provide Internet access on board trains. The book details also all the other operational applications requiring high capacity. Finally, the last chapter highlights challenges and trends in railway telecommunications. The future and emerging technologies, such as 5G and Cognitive Radio concept, are presented. The current discussions and works in the different authorities, dealing with telecommunications, railway specifics or professional networks are highlighted. The key challenges and scientific barriers are also discussed.

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