How do most people use their phones when on a train? Besides checking their mail and reading the paper, they also stream videos, play online games or work in virtual offices. This requires a great deal of bandwidth, meaning that capacity issues can prove particularly annoying. A Swisscom team has been researching and working on continuously improving mobile coverage for rail travellers and commuters for more than ten years.
The invention of a special type of glass for the train windows, which lets mobile telephone signals through, has made it possible to bring mobile coverage directly onto the train without intermediate components. However, coverage along train routes remains challenging as much more data is transmitted under the same conditions with each mobile phone generation. One possible solution is a specially designed antenna corridor along railway lines.
Swisscom has now made a major breakthrough on a test route between Biberlikopf and Kerenzerberg at Lake Walen with a newly designed four-kilometre antenna corridor: Swisscom engineers achieved a connection with 1.2 Gbit/s on a moving train. Christoph Aeschlimann, Head of IT, Network & Infrastructure at Swisscom says: “This concept sets a new benchmark for the mobile phone industry. Just one year ago, we had no idea whether this would be possible. We now have a solution that provides stable and reliable coverage for passengers as well as important insights for safety-relevant applications in rail transport.”Another positive side effect is the lower transmitting power required due to the shorter distances between antennas and devices.
After evaluating the results, the test corridor will be further optimised and validated with measurements in the first quarter of 2021. The long-term goal is to achieve uninterrupted mobile phone coverage along the main routes for all mobile phone users and providers in Switzerland In terms of the antenna corridor, Swisscom has developed a feasible solution that is also available to other providers.