FirstGroup has announced a deal to become Britain’s first 5G railway network. It will work with Blu Wireless to bring superfast WiFi to the Southern Western Railway franchise. However, Icomera will continue to supply on-board WiFi equipment and services to the franchise operator.
The UK-based transport group has been working with Blu Wireless, Network Rail and the DfT, on what it refers to as an ‘end-to-end 5G solution’, marking a UK market first in bringing 5G to trains.
The system, based on mmWave technology, is reportedly capable of processing volumes of data up to 100 times greater than currently possible with 4G, the technology will initially be rolled out across the South Western Railway franchise.
MmWave solutions whilst giving access to very large channels and allowing for higher data rates of up to 10Gbps, have high atmospheric attenuation and are absorbed by gases in the atmosphere, which reduces the range and strength of the waves. Blu Wireless says it has developed a new class of mmWave Systems IP based on the IEEE 802.11-2016 protocol with long range, high-speed extensions that support the use of V-band as a channel for high-quality mobile broadband.
FirstGroup said it will become the exclusive supplier of Blu Wireless’s new 5G rail system for customers and railway infrastructure providers, and it will also work with Network Rail to harness 5G to improve railway infrastructure.
Simon Holmes, FirstGroup’s head of digital communication, said: “We have worked hard over the last two-and-a-half years to reach this point which will enable us to deploy 5G technology for the benefit of customers and railway infrastructure.
“Our partnership with BLU Wireless marks a step change for connectivity on customer trains and we look forward to working with them and our other partners to ensure the success of this project.”
First Rail’s commercial director Hugh Clancy thanked the suppliers and partners involved in the project and celebrated that with ongoing support of the DfT and Network Rail, South Western Railway will become the UK’s first 5G railway.
Mark Barrett, CMO of Blu Wireless, commented: “This partnership will revolutionise commuter connectivity in an innovative and economical way.
On-board WiFi, trackside networks, the growing market for passenger WiFi services and on-board entertainment will be the main subjects of BWCS’s WiFi on Trains Conference 2019 on the 4th and 5th of June.
The 2019 conference (www.Traincomms2019.com ) is sponsored by Icomera, Nomad Digital, Fluidmesh, RADWIN and BAI Communications.