DB, Ericsson, O2 Telefonica and Vantage Towers will receive state funding to test 5G infra along train tracks in Germany
German train operator Deutsche Bahn (DB), Ericsson, O2 Telefónica and Vantage Towers are working together to develop a solution to deploy a 5G mobile communications infrastructure along train tracks in Germany.
The partners say they have received confirmation from the German Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV) that they will receive funding to test innovative technology for mobile communications coverage along tracks.
The German government will provide some EUR 6.4 million ($6.9 million) to support this initiative, dubbed Gigabit Innovation Track (GINT), as an important component of the German government’s gigabit strategy. The GINT partners plan to develop technical and financial options for high-performance and sustainable 5G mobile coverage along tracks.
Under this initiative, the partners plan to find out how to achieve the high transmission rates that will be needed in the future and how to build the necessary infrastructure in a way that minimizes the use of resources. Part of the project will involve creating a test area along a roughly ten-kilometer section of track in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania to test technological approaches and options in practice. The partners aims to develop ten innovative towers of different designs to be built to provide uninterrupted gigabit coverage for the line.
The technology being tested includes different designs of towers, including towers that can be securely screwed into the ground without the need for concrete foundations.
The partners will also test 5G on O2 Telefónica’s 3.6 GHz frequencies.
Volker Wissing, federal minister for Digital and Transport, said: “We want trains to be able to serve as a traveling office or living room where passengers can work, stream videos and make calls without any technical issues at all. To achieve this high quality, we have to have gigabit coverage. The Gigabit Innovation Track project being funded will lay the crucial foundation for this.”
Daniela Gerd tom Markotten, DB board member for digitalization and technology, highlighted that the rail and mobile communications industries are joining forces to ensure the rapid expansion of 5G networks along German tracks.
“Today we are setting the course for future gigabit coverage along tracks. Consumers want to be able to use a high-performance mobile network for all their digital applications, even when they’re on the train. Rail companies, mobile companies and policymakers need to work together to enable fast 5G on trains. We need new technological concepts and economically viable funding,” said Valentina Daiber, chief officer legal and corporate affairs at O2 Telefónica.
Meanwhile, Christian Sommer, member of the management board of Vantage Towers, noted that the major challenge of gigabit coverage for railways can only be solved through consistent sharing of infrastructure. “For the 5G rollout along tracks, we focus on innovative tower concepts for a fast, cost-efficient and environmentally friendly implementation,” Sommer said.