Broadband partnership promises increased connectivity for rail passengers
Written by: Philip Mason | Published:

Transport company FirstGroup, and Blu Wireless, have announced a joint project intended to drastically improve broadband quality on trains, via the roll-out of 5G technology. Other partners in the scheme include Network Rail, the Department for Transport, and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

According to Blu Wireless, the key enabling technology in the project is the company’s rail 5G radio system, which has been designed specifically for high-speed transport applications. The system – which can be “deployed at speed” - creates a moving point-to-point connection greater than 1 Gbps per on-train antenna, through the use of electronic beamforming.

Off-train infrastructure meanwhile includes specialist poles and mounts, rolled out using “new deployment methods.” The solution's trackside radio unit meanwhile reportedly operates at one per cent of the power of a typical 4G base station.

Speaking of the technology, Mark Barrett, CMO of Blu Wireless, said: “This partnership will revolutionise commuter connectivity in an innovative and economical way. The system is based on Blu Wireless’s unique ‘mmWave’ communication technology which does not require the hugely complex and expensive infrastructure of cellular systems.

“We believe that the combination of gigabit grade data rate with cost-effective and low power operation will be instrumental in delivering FirstGroup’s customers with best-in-class on train Wi-Fi services.”

Simon Holmes, FirstGroup’s head of digital communication said: “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.”

Further reading:

Train Wi-Fi rollouts: overcoming obstacles

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