The world’s population continues to shift to urban centers.
“Cities have been the world’s economic dynamos for centuries, attracting skilled workers and productive businesses and benefiting from economies of scale,” notes McKinsey Global Institute in a 2012 report. “Urbanization and per capita GDP tend to move in close synch as countries develop. But what is different about today’s wave of mass urbanization is its unprecedented speed and scale. It is not hyperbole to say that we are observing the most significant shift in the earth’s economic center of gravity in history.”
That is driving the need for more advanced public transportation infrastructure for railways, including communications-based train control, video surveillance, and onboard and station applications. Of course, all of the above require networks to enable data to be transported to and from where it needs to go.
Organizations have traditionally employed separate networks for these various applications. For example, communications-based train control might use a proprietary Wi-Fi network, emergency call points might leverage private mobile radio technology, and other applications might be based on digital video broadcasting.
But running a collection of different networks for various applications is not the most cost-effective, efficient, or scalable approach. That’s why some organizations are now looking to leverage 4G LTE (News - Alert) networks to support a collection of applications.
For example, the French government has an initiative called “Investments for the Future – National Fund for the Digital Society” through which it’s working with Alcatel-Lucent (News - Alert) and seven partners to test putting these various applications on a single integrated radio network. As Thierry Sens, Marketing Director Transportation Segment, Alcatel-Lucent explains in a recent TrackTallk posting, “Rail Communications: Leave silos behind with 4G LTE,” putting an array of passenger comfort-, safety-, and security- and maintenance-related applications on LTE makes sense because this cellular technology can support voice, video, and data on a single IP network delivering low latency and speeds of up to 150mbps.
In short, LTE is being tested to validate that it can be the single radio network for French railways which now can have as many as seven or eight different networks.
The work involving Alcatel-Lucent and the French government began in July of 2012 and included network design, performance measurement, and radio planning simulation at Alcatel-Lucent’s Transportation Solution Lab. Work on live testing on the driverless Line 14 of the Paris Metro is now afoot and is expected to wrap up in the spring.
Edited by Peter Bernstein