Deutsche Bahn wants to close dead spots on trains

DClosing dead spots is a tedious task, especially at speeds of over 300 kilometers per hour. Nobody knows this better than Deutsche Bahn and its customers. You feel this every day when you try to start productive work on a business trip with the green train.

This can only be successful with a joint effort, which is why three actors met on Friday at Berlin Central Station to present their project: in addition to Deutsche Bahn, the mobile phone provider Vodafone and the Federal Minister of Transport, Volker Wissing ( PDF). Train passengers should soon be able to use a stable mobile phone connection and “fluid” Internet on long-distance trains.

Enable 5G+

Wissing promised that the situation on the trains would improve “significantly” this year, and soon it would be the most modern mobility offer in Europe. It should also be fast by mid-2025, Vodafone CEO Hannes Ametsreiter added: bandwidths of at least 225 megabits per second on main ICE and IC train routes. The Düsseldorf provider also wants to activate its “5G+” network along these routes, which does not require LTE technology (“5G standalone”): “5G+” offers particularly short data runtimes, but only for smartphones that are specially equipped for this. At least 125 megabits per second on almost 14,000 kilometers of track. This would cover around 21,000 kilometers of a route network that covers more than 33,000 kilometres. For this to succeed, Vodafone has committed to building an additional 160 cell phone stations along the railway lines and technically upgrading around a thousand.

The railways also have a lot to do: they will enable fiber optic areas and infrastructure along the rails to a greater extent than before. It also replaces window glass on trains so that radio signals can better reach the interior of trains.

Telekom should also offer

Vodafone’s bet is not unique: Last June, Deutsche Telekom announced a continuous supply of mobile communications over rails by 2026. According to Telekom, it is investing more than 140 million euros in the additional coverage of all routes by 2026.

This should provide between 100 and 200 Mbit per second, the Federal Network Agency prescribes a speed of at least 50 Mbit per second. She calls her railway project “Black Shepherd Dog”, which can certainly be understood as a dig at telecommunications competition, because her offers still have many “white spots”, as Telekom CEO Tim Höttges explained to the shareholders at the Annual General Meeting. Thursday. It is about the 33,600 kilometers of rails in Germany and the difficulty of getting the signal to the trains.

When an ICE is traveling at 300 kilometers per hour, the signal is transferred to the next radio cell every 40 seconds on average. This is already the first susceptibility, but mobile phone providers are working to establish coverage along the route and also in the tunnels.

It will be more difficult to achieve on trains: although the railways have repeaters on the roofs of the trains and then in the compartments, only 0.1 percent of the radio signal reaches the train due to the high attenuation caused by the architecture of the train, according to Telekom Really get on the train. That’s ten times less than a car, for example. Therefore, the railways want to laser etch the crystals of the new ICE before installation in such a way that they will let mobile radio waves through.

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