Home Engineering Broadband Wireless Communications for Railway Applications: For Onboard Internet Access and Other Applications
Solutions Based on Public Cellular Networks only
The East Midland trains in UK are equipped with an on-train Wi-Fi since 2011, relying on the Nomad Digital system . The system was upgraded in 2014 in order to improve connectivity speed and reliability.
DSB, the state-owned Danish rail operator, decided to equip all its Metropolitan S-trains in Denmark’s capital Copenhagen with wireless communications, after a study revealed that real-time traffic information was the number one request from its daily passengers. The survey revealed that even in the event of delay, complaints would be minimized and customer satisfaction raised by providing accurate, up- to-the-minute information on new times of arrival, connecting traffic and service alterations. Free Internet access using the same wireless communication system was built into the package to further increase customer satisfaction. The communications between train and ground are provided by an NDConnect Communications Control Unit (CCU) mobile router from Nomad Digital, aggregating two mobile networks. The solution was chosen to be scalable with a modular approach in order to support new technologies and standards, such as LTE. Access points in the carriages and dedicated portal and infotainment servers support the services.
NSB, the Norway’s national rail company, has implemented wireless Internet access for passengers on its intercity train’s fleet. The country is large and sparsely populated outside major cities, which implies that mobile broadband coverage is patchy and frequently blocked by tunnels. Nomad’s multi-carrier aggregating NDConnect solution presented above is used. The system exploits all public networks in Norway and a particular requirement was to use the ICE CDMA network operating at 450 MHz. The solution is scalable and modular to fit with LTE standard, which was launched extensively in Norway.
The NDConnect system is also used to provide passenger information and Internet access in the intercity trains of the NS Dutch Railways, in Netherlands. NDConnect router uses national cellular networks. Recently, NS dutch Railways announced that the entire Dutch intercity fleet will be equipped with 4G mobile internet connections by the end of the summer of 2015.A fair usage policy will be also initiated to boost Wi-Fi speed for all passengers, by limiting the speed per user to 150 kbps.
Queensland Rail, one of Australia’s largest train and transport companies, which operates around 200 commuter and regional services along 7000 km of track, is rolling out free Wi-Fi on its trains. Some parts of the country suffer of poor coverage, which means loss of communication. The developed system works then across multiple networks. Nomad’s technology uses the three main MNO carriers, which guarantees a higher level of network coverage and better bandwidth availability.
In , the author announces that Eurostar aims to bring Wi-Fi on board its fleet. Nomad Digital won the contract to provide the on board technology. Indeed, Nomad Digital is able to aggregate bandwidth from different MNOs, as explained in this part. A crucial point is also that it enables cross-border connections, which is important given that Eurostar currently across three countries (France, Belgium and UK) and plans to extend its reach to Germany and to the Netherlands.
Other solutions, which do not use Nomad Digital system and based on public cellular solutions, were also rolled out in different countries.
In Canada, the Via Rail trains, formerly equipped with the PointShot Wireless system, are now providing Internet access on board from three different wireless providers . Eight antennas are mounted on the front-most cars of each train set. Trains from Quebec to Windsor and Montreal to Halifax are equipped with this solution.
In Denmark, a cellular solution was deployed in the Arriva’s train, relying on an Icomera solution .
In Latvia, Latvian Railway, in cooperation with the wireless telecommunications company Triatel, provides an Internet services on board its trains since 2009 .
In Switzerland, the Swiss Federal Railways, the national railway company, proposes modern signal amplifiers in their trains to ensure better reception for passengers on the train. The Company announced that all long-distance trains will be fitted with 3G/4G signal amplifiers by the end of 2014. The signals came directly from the mobile phone signal from outside and are amplified into the coach.
Initially, the RailNet service on board ICE trains in Germany integrated 3G networks with a Flarion FLASH-OFDM based network. The T-Mobile mobile phone operator deployed its network as a “gap-filler”, but soon after it was demonstrated as a feasible solution, so the coverage was extended . Currently, the Telekom Company is responsible for the on board system and the trackside network, and also for the ISP. Telekom gets the exclusiveness on Wi-Fi in ICE trains. DB Company buys then “online-minute”. Telekom manages operational, mobile networks, server on train and connection between coaches.
In Hungary, the Gysev Railway Company equipped its trains from Budapest to Sopron with a free Wi-Fi Internet access on March 2011 . The system relies on the Telenor Telecommunication Company system. It uses High Speed Uplink Packet Access (HSUPA)/HSDPA/(Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) W-CDMA networks. Announced throughputs are 7.2 Mbps for the downlink and 5.76 Mbps for the uplink. Recently, the Russian Railways’ subsidiary Aeroexpress announced that free Wi-Fi services will be available on all its trains running between the city center of Moscow and the airports. The broadband wireless link is provided by RTD-Telecom using 3G and 4G networks belonging to the main Russian mobile operators: MegaFon, Beeline, MTS and Yota. 20 to 25 Mbps average throughputs are announced. Moscow’s metro trains were previously equipped with Wi-Fi connection on board, with 90 Mbps announced throughputs.
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