Australian telecoms operator Telstra has started work on its much-promised network upgrades to provide mobile and WiFi services along one of Sydney’s busiest commuter rail routes. The project, which will cost some Au$13.2 million (US$9.38 million), is part of a contract signed late last year between the Telco and Sydney Trains and is being under-written by the Canberra-based Federal Government.
Under the terms of the deal Telstra will add infrastructure along the rail corridor and at stations along a 60km stretch of track from central Sydney out to the Newcastle Interchange at the former Wickham Station. As part of the agreement, Telstra is committed to identifying and eradicating coverage black-spots on the route.
In early 2017, the Australian Federal Government promised Au$12 million (US$8.52 million) in funding towards the upgrade of mobile coverage along the commuter route. This has since been matched with a further Au$4 million (US$2.84 million) from the New South Wales State Government, which is also facilitating planning permissions and arranging access to land along the rail corridor.
In 2013, Transport for NSW appointed McLaren Technologies (Fluide Internet Portal), and Virtual Graffiti Australia (Ruckus Smart WiFi) to collaborate with Sydney Trains on a project to provide free WiFi to passengers at Sydney’s Central Station.
Government involvement in improving trackside coverage has had a checkered history recently. In 2015, BWCS and Banedanmark, the Danish rail authority, worked with the country’s four national mobile network operators and two train operators to generate a firm commitment to providing better coverage along the routes.
Earlier this year, the UK Government announced that it had decided to cancel part of its £35 million trial of 5G based mobile and fixed line fibre technology on the Trans Pennine rail route. The train tracks running between Manchester and York had been designated as an important trial area for new trackside wireless systems, supported by the Department for Culture Media and Science (DCMS). The Trans Pennine Initiative (TPI) came into being to support ambitious proposals from the Government aimed at bringing “uninterrupted” WiFi and Mobile (5G) broadband speeds of up to 1Gbps to all UK mainline train routes by 2025.
For a full report on the Australian market for WiFi services on trains, please see BWCS’s online database www.Internet4trains.com .
On-train WiFi services, trackside networks, the growing market for passenger WiFi 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.