German train operator Deutsche Bahn is to invest a record sum this year amid vows from its CEO to also offer better on-board connections. Company chief, Richard Lutz, said that his company will strive to improve mobile signals and WiFi on board the trains. “We must and will, get better.” He said.
Together with the federal and regional governments, the transport company will invest €13.6 billion (US$15.4 billion) in rail services and infrastructure in 2022. The main target is to help decarbonise transport in Germany and the money, some €900 million more than the 2021 figure, will largely be spent on expanding and digitalising the rail network.
Last year, Deutsche Bahn announced a partnership with Deutsche Telekom aimed at boosting mobile trackside coverage in Germany and eradicating “funklochs” (notspots). The rail company has some 7,800km of “major routes” used by its Intercity Express trains, out of a total network of 33,400km. Deutsche Telekom, the former state telecoms company, said that it is aiming to supply fast train-to-shore mobile broadband connectivity on these routes by 2024.
By 2025, DT says that it should be able to supply improved track-side coverage to a further 13,800km of relatively heavily used tracks. The remainder of the DB network will be covered by 2026. Speaking at the time, the telecoms company admitted that the often-patchy mobile coverage of Germany’s railway networks has long been considered one of the weakest areas of the country’s telecommunications network.
It is clear that the travelling public in Germany are increasingly reliant on the WiFi service on trains. One lawyer reported recently that due to his train being stuck outside Hamburg, he was able to represent his client via the on-board Internet link. The court records showing – “the plaintiff’s council – from the train” is believed to be a first.
It is not clear how much of the new rail budget will be used to assist in this drive to improve wireless coverage. However, new construction and the addition of new digital services will help provide both opportunities and demand for building new masts along the routes
According to a report last year by the Federal Network Agency, there are around 550 fewer antennas near railway tracks than are needed to provide consistent service.
Track-side connectivity and on-board WiFi provision will be the main subjects of this year’s Traincomms Conference.
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Wireless network suppliers may be interested to know that BWCS’ annual Wireless Networks in Ports Conference will take place later this year. Read what the participants said about this unique, highly focused event examining the battle to install and improve wireless networks in ports here … www.Wireless-Networks-in-Ports.com