High-speed WiFi rolls out on UK railways using mmWave

April 28, 2021 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
High-speed WiFi rolls out on UK railways using mmWave
Using 60 GHz equipment from Blu Wireless Technology, evo-rail is to roll out mmWave high speed WiFi to trains in the UK using a network of self-powered masts.

The subsidiary of the First Group is using 60 GHz mmWave equipment from Blu Wireless Technology in Bristol on self-powered masts alongside track in southern England. The system provides 1 Gbit/s of bandwidth to a train at up to 300 km/h, using a mesh network to link the masts or track-side fibre optics cable back to the core network.

The Rail-5G mmWave system replaces the current system based around multiple SIM cards that provides a total of 30 Mbit/s to a train. The 1-Gbit/s mmWave system was tested on a large scale pilot on the Isle of Wight and is now rolling out on 70 km of suburban track, with plans for inter-city routes later in the year, as well as several European projects.

The self-powered pole for building high performance networks in the railway corridor. evo-rail integrates the most efficient solar cells with an integrated wind turbine and lithium battery in a single, lean pole that is operated by a unique power management system.

The self-powered rail-5G access point is a fully autonomous, high-end carrier grade wireless access point delivering Gigabit/s bandwidth. It can be coupled to an existing trackside fibre connection or meshed with adjacent access points and serves as a the fastest system to provide extended area coverage.

“Unlike mobile systems, rail-5G benefits from being designed by railway experts specifically for the railways. The increased bandwidth will, for the first time, provide a significantly improved customer experience for passengers who will now be able to use high-definition video streaming, access office applications, participate in 3D gaming and browse at high speeds, just as they would at home – even when their train is in a tunnel,” said Simon Holmes, FirstGroup’s Head of Engineering Digital Communications and Managing Director of evo-rail.

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