Getting business people back on the rails – our first ever guest post!

Hakan Samuelsson, Chief Technology Officer of Axell Wireless, discusses how train operators can improve on-board mobile coverage to help encourage commuters and business travellers back to using rail services.

The pace of modern business now means it is essential to work on the move. Connected device proliferation has made this possible, but the public transport networks are still not up to the task. There is also the pressure on organisations to reduce their carbon footprint compounding the need for improved network coverage onboard domestic public transport.
The options for domestic business travel are limited to a straight three-way battle between Air, rail and road. However, as driving does not allow access to email via laptop or smartphone and external communications on a plane are still heaped with complexity, rail does represent an attractive proposition for mobile working. High-speed trains now come equipped with Wi-Fi access and power that transform carriages into rolling workplaces, thus creating a stable environment for business on the move.
However, modern train carriages, built with steel for rigidity,act like a giant ‘Faraday Cage’ that deflect and interfere with RFsignal propagation. This means signal penetration into the train carriage from the outside can be very poor, resulting in diminished coverage, an increase of dropped calls and slower download speeds. The high speed nature of modern trains also complicates the hand off of wireless signals between base stations, while the complexities of different terrain and rapidly changing outdoor signal levels of the various networks complicate the issue further.
Rail operators know that in order to push corporate commuters back onto trains, mobile coverage onboard has to be vastly improved and much more reliable. One option to improve the situation is fitting trains with Digital Repeaters, a flexible multiband wireless coverage solution that can propagate radio signals within the coach of a train. This enables train operators to provide a wide range of wireless services, supplying passengers with improved coverage for voice services and support for higher data transfer rates for mobile broadband access. Furthermore, by deploying repeaters in tunnels, mobile coverage through mountainous terrain can be uninterrupted. This extends to make rail travel through different central European countries a seamless experience as repeaters can configure themselves to new networks at each country border.
Sweden is one country that has embraced this method of deploying digital repeaters on board trains to enhance mobile coverage. In fact, train operators and mobile carriers are working together in a conscious effort to cut the costs in order to get business back onto the rails. After installing repeaters aboard their trains SJ, Sweden’s largest train operator, saw business sales grow by over 11 percent in 2007 on the previous year. SJ claim this growth was instigated solely by commuters seeing their services as an opportunity to work effectively onboard. This collaboration and success has also led to the country’s train manufacturers delivering new, more efficiently trains to help improve signal distribution throughout the carriages.
Sweden’s train and mobile operators’ proactive approach to improving network coverage aboard public transport is trailblazing a course in Europe with many other countries following in their tracks. It is clear that improved and uninterrupted mobile coverage aboard trains will see commuters flocking back to rail services as businesses view working effectively on trains as a truly viable option for their staff.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading Facebook Comments ...