Skip to main content

Future Spectrum Demand for Rail Communications

Back in March, the UK Spectrum Policy Forum (UK SPF) held an event looking at what does the future look like for rail communications and what does it mean for spectrum policy? It explored the spectrum and technology possibilities for the future passenger and operational communications of the rail sector.

The following is a summary from the event roundup:

  • The session opened with the changing landscape of railway communications, notably the transition to the new Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS), the successor of the Global System for Mobile Communications – Railway (GSM-R). This is set to be rolled out in the coming years and should allow the railway sector to better leverage the latest communications technology.
  • New rail related use cases and applications have been identified over the past few years increasing the demands on spectrum which can no longer be handled by GSM-R. The increasing number of performance related use cases include energy efficient driving, video surveillance (non-critical CCTV) and predictive maintenance and operations intelligence that will lead to reducing operational costs, among others.  
  • As of today, there is neither a single technical nor a proven commercial case that aligns all corridor connectivity under a single spectrum solution. There are multiple solutions and likely to be different business models that will satisfy all the use cases but this requires close collaboration across government, the rail industry and the telecoms industry.
  • There was general consensus amongst the workshop participants that spectrum is not a major hurdle to ensure operational and passenger connectivity, as technology can solve the connectivity challenges.
  • FRMCS and GSM-R will coexist in the 900 MHz band for at least a decade until GSM-R operation is phased out and eventually FRMCS can be extended to the 2x5.6 MHz bandwidth available. In addition,  the unpaired 1900 MHz frequency band has recently been harmonised for FRMCS by European bodies.
  • However, 1900 – 1920 MHz was auctioned to MNOs in the UK, and the harmonised FRMCS band at 1900 - 1910 MHz is currently allocated to EE. The UK SPF Cluster 1 workshop prompted discussions on how – if possible ­– the  rail sector could gain access to the band under the existing regulations.
  • Moreover, in addition to MNO connectivity, the high-capacity requirements of passenger connectivity could be addressed in future through other frequency ranges, including but not limited to 3.8-4.2 GHz, 5 GHz or mmWave bands like 26 GHz or 66 GHz noting further regulatory developments would be needed. 
  • There was consensus that the lack of MNO coverage is still a major complaint by rail passengers, however a few speakers pointed out that there is an increasing need for capacity, given the existing and forecast growth in mobile data driven mainly by media streaming, as well as uplink-focused use cases.
  • The workshop was a timely reminder that the business case for passenger related rail connectivity along all routes continued to be a challenge, until recently with news of a mobile and fixed connectivity solution along the Brighton Mainline which might serve as a model for the future.
  • It was suggested that the introduction of coverage obligations could lead to greater investment on the railway.
  • Neutral hosts may also help with flexible financial conditions and shared investments, while other technologies, such as satellite, could also extend coverage and capacity in rural areas and branch lines.

The available slides can be downloaded from here. The presentation by Matthew Baker, Head of Radio Physical Layer & Coexistence Standardisation, Nokia Standards, looks at FRMCS Standardisation in 3GPP for 5G NR.

Related Posts

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Laser Inter-Satellite Links (LISLs) in a Starlink Constellation

When we first talked about Starlink back in 2019 , we saw in the video that the concept involved laser communication to communicate between the satellites. While the initially launched satellites did not have the laser communication mechanism built in, it looks like they are being added to the newer ones.  A report from Fast Company in late 2021 said: One of the next big upgrades in telecom will involve satellites firing lasers at each other—to beam data, not blow stuff up. The upside of replacing traditional radio-frequency communication with lasers, that encode data as pulses of light, can be much like that of deploying fiber-optic cable for terrestrial broadband: much faster speeds and much lower latency. “Laser links in orbit can reduce long-distance latency by as much as 50%, due to higher speed of light in vacuum & shorter path than undersea fiber,” SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted in July about the upgrade now beginning for that firm’s Starlink satellite constellation. The

CSI-RS vs SRS Beamforming

In an issue of Signals Flash by Signals Research Group (SRG), they talked about 2 different types of MIMO. Quoting from their journal, "CSI-RS versus SRS. Those operators that have tested or made token use of MU-MIMO leverage a flavor of MU-MIMO that is based on CSI-RS. The MU-MIMO network we tested was based on SRS, which makes it far more likely to observe sixteen spatial layers (versus eight)." I reached out to Emil Bj√∂rnson, Visiting Professor at KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Associate Professor at Link√∂ping University to see if he has explained this in any of his videos. Here is what he said: " I'm not talking about 3GPP terminology in any of my videos. But you can listen to the slides that starts around 12:40 in this video (embedded below) . If you are looking for CSI-RS vs SRS based MU-MIMO, then jump to around 12:40 in this video where you can see CSI-RS being referred to as "grid of beams" and SRS is similar to the other option, which is t

IEEE 802.11be Extremely High Throughput (EHT), a.k.a. Wi-Fi 7

We have been writing about Wi-Fi for a long time, weather it's to do with indoor connectivity , competition with 5G or just a name change to something simpler. When we last wrote about WiFi 6, a.k.a. 802.11ax, we were expecting a quick adoption of the technology in the industry. We are still not there yet.  You know what's strange? None of the new @madebygoogle gadgets from yesterday support Wi-Fi 6. Not the Pixel 5, not the Pixel 4a 5G, not the Nest Audio, and not the new Chromecast. pic.twitter.com/QtJ8iB9FeO — Ry Crist (@rycrist) October 1, 2020 Take for instance the new iPhone 12 supports Wi-Fi 6 in all their models as one would expect but none of the new Google Pixel phones (4a, 4a 5G and 5) support it. In fact none of the new Google devices support it. Which is rather bizarre. While we are still looking forward to Wi-Fi 6 becoming widespread, IEEE has already started working on the successor of 802.11ax, 802.11be - Standard for Information technology--Telecommunicati