Australian commuters riding the rails between Newcastle and Sydney have finally begun benefiting from long-promised improved mobile coverage. The AU$29 million infrastructure upgrade is being funded by national telecoms company Telstra in conjunction with the state and federal governments.
According to local press reports, the first sections of the NSW rail corridor are now fitted with new mobile base stations and free WiFi at some stations.
Federal Communications Minister, Paul Fletcher, said last Friday that Telstra had completed the first stage of the planned mobile upgrade project between Hornsby and Wyong. The improvements were first promised more than three years ago.
The 68km trip between Sydney and Newcastle can take over 2 hours as the trains wind through tunnels and steep valleys - making mobile coverage challenging. The route is used by around 30,000 people who travel between Sydney and the Central Coast by train each day.
The federal government has bankrolled the improvements with an injection of AU$12 million, while the NSW state administration has put up AU$4 million. For its part, Telstra is pouring some AU$13 million into the project. The telco started work on surveying the route and studying how best to improve coverage last year.
The first of 22 planned mobile base stations has now been installed at Narara and free WiFi is available at Lisarow, Mount Colah and Tuggerah stations. The next stages of work will focus on adding more mobile base stations and WiFi infrastructure in other parts of the rail corridor. A spokesman for Telstra said the mobile infrastructure would consist of “New mobile stations and in-tunnel coverage along some very challenging terrain”. Other mobile carriers will also be able to “co-locate equipment for their services on the new mobile base stations”.
The Minister commented, “Building new mobile infrastructure reduces mobile black spots along this busy rail corridor and allows passengers to catch up on work or the news, and stay in touch with friends and family, while in transit.”
Australia and the market for on-train WiFi services is covered in BWCS’ online database www.Internet4Trains.com. For more detailed country-by-country data on how the market for on-train WiFi services is developing please see www.Internet4Trains.com or contact Mandy.Cale@BWCS.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 next June.
Sponsorship opportunities are being offered now for next year’s Conference. Please contact Ross.Parsons@BWCS.com for details.
The 2019 conference (www.Traincomms2019.com ) was sponsored by Icomera, Nomad Digital, Fluidmesh, RADWIN and BAI Communications.