Optical and Microwave Innovation | ADVA demos 5G rail deployment

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5G-PICTURE project achieves seamless multi-Gbit/s connectivity to trains traveling at speed in a fully operational environment

ADVA has demonstrated Europe’s first 5G rail deployment in an operational environment. Using a combined optical and microwave transport solution, the demo succeeded in delivering multi-Gbit/s connectivity to fast-moving trains.

Until now, supporting the handovers required for consistent broadband connectivity on trains traveling at speed was a major challenge. Built on ADVA’s G.metro passive optical technology and FSP 150 edge aggregation solution, the joint trial featured an integrated architecture for all train communication applications. Millimeter wave (mmWave) access points (APs) were used to maintain track-to-train connectivity as well as programmable mobility functions for seamless onboard services.

Part of the EU’s Horizon 2020 5G-PICTURE project, the demo was conducted by ADVA, Blu Wireless Technology, CNIT, COMSA Industrial and the local railway operator and infrastructure manager, Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya (FGC).

“With this demo, we’ve presented the blueprints for the future of rail telecommunication networks. We’ve shown how a combined optical and microwave 5G architecture can carry both critical and non-critical communications, dramatically simplifying deployments and delivering significant cost reduction,” said Jim Zou, senior engineer, advanced technology, ADVA. “Unlike traditional railway telecommunication networks that rely on separate infrastructures, what we’ve proposed with this demo is a unified, automated network able to support every application and prevent service interruptions. It delivers high-bandwidth internet access to passengers on the move, while also providing train operators with driver-to-control connectivity, access to surveillance cameras and mission-critical onboard applications. Now a single 5G network can provide all telco services for train companies, freight operators and passengers.”

Deployed across three stations of the FGC network in Barcelona, the 5G-PICTURE railway testbed interconnected a variety of end-user devices and compute resources using the most advanced optical and wireless network technologies. For the first time in Europe in a live operational scenario, the demo proved that a single integrated infrastructure can deliver safe, secure and reliable connectivity for all three categories of train line services: critical, performance and business.

Along the track, it leveraged mmWave links that intelligently steered beams to the train’s rooftop antennae for optimal backhaul and access connectivity. These were connected to passive WDM add/drop nodes built with ADVA’s low-latency G.metro system and each mmWave AP was capable of dedicated 10Gbit/s connectivity. All the traffic from the trackside was further aggregated to the railway operator’s core network based on ADVA’s 100Gbit/s Ethernet aggregation technology.

“This demo showed how we can harness an intelligent, open and scalable 5G network for everything from surveillance to passenger communications to mission-critical operational data transport.”
Carles Terés Casals, director, R&D, FGC

“At FGC, we understand the value of leveraging emerging technology to achieve maximum efficiency and provide our passengers with the best available services. That’s why we’re so excited by the possibilities that this demo presents. It showed how we can harness an intelligent, open and scalable 5G network for everything from surveillance to passenger communications to mission-critical operational data transport,” commented Carles Terés Casals, director, R&D, FGC. “Train passengers are heavy users of mobile data. Whether it’s video streaming, replying to emails and social media or planning the next stage of their journey, they expect always-on access to advanced services. Providing ultra-reliable high-speed mobility on a virtual infrastructure shared with all other applications offers a way to meet that demand while removing complexity and saving significant cost.”

“This project is about completely transforming on-train connectivity for the digitalization strategy of the railway sector. It’s about providing massive high-quality wireless capacity to trains to enable cloud-based applications that improve performance and security in the railway sector. It’s also about being able to support new business and passenger applications,” said Manuel Alfageme, head of smart systems innovation, COMSA Industrial. “At COMSA, we have a formidable record of leading the way with rail innovation. By jointly demonstrating the technical and commercial viability of this technology in a live operational environment, we’re showing train operators and railway infrastructure managers that open, scalable and agile 5G networks are now possible in the railway vertical. The time has come for a new generation of integrated railway infrastructure.”


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