5G Enabling The Digital Railway
The inevitable shift towards 5G adoption in Africa will bring huge benefits across industries and individuals with the GSMA estimating that we will see around 28 million devices connected to a 5G network by 2025. This will completely transform the way people live, work, play and communicate.
This creates an opportunity for the rail industry to take advantage of advanced communications systems to increase safety, cut operating costs and improve the experience for rail passengers as operators evolve into digital railways. While some of the required functionality for mission-critical communications already exists with 4G, 5G will enhance this significantly. In addition to providing efficient broadband capabilities, 5G networks bring ultra-high reliability and ultra-low latency into play that paves the way for massive Machine Type Communication (mMTC) for sensors and predictive maintenance, which in turn allows train operators to improve and optimise their services.
The Future Railway Mobile Communications System (FRMCS) is set to replace GSM-R as the single global standard for railway communications in the future. This migration is led by the European Rail Association (ERA) and UIC, the international union of railways and 3GPP technologies such as 5G will be best positioned to meet all the needs of railway operators. While the migration period will run over several years, with GSM-R and FRMCS running in parallel, rail operators are advised to start planning early and modernise their existing GSM-R networks by introducing IP technology as in the transmission networks for FRMCS, to ensure they are prepared for a parallel rollout of 5G for railways starting in the future.
For the railway industry, the benefits of 5G include enhanced safety, improved operational efficiency and innovative passenger services. This will, in turn, help them achieve further digitisation to make the railway more competitive. For railways to capitalise on these benefits and opportunities, they will require a communications technology that offers high speed, security and capacity to support passenger connectivity needs, as well as safety-critical operational applications such as train signalling and safety-related application like CCTV and on-board communications.
Railway communications will in the future require a minimal delay between the radio and the network, known as latency, as well as the ability to work in the cloud to enable the adoption of automated operation and machine-to-machine (M2M) communication. While LTE already provides a high quality of service and capabilities, 5G is designed for this type of mission-critical communication which requires ultra-reliability and low latency.
As countries across the globe, and the African continent, move towards Industry 4.0 transformation, 5G is expected to become the dominant technology for vertical markets. It will allow rail operators to make greater use of automation, cut costs, and remove human error and promote greater safety. With its high speed, high capacity, and low latency, 5G paves the way for rail operators to move into a new era of automated operations and improve customer service as they embrace digitalisation.
Courtesy of Railways Africa – full article here>