All aboard for the 5G experience

TE Connectivity
Tuesday, 17 September, 2019

All aboard for the 5G experience

TE Connectivity (TE) is set to bring 5G next-generation mobile communications technology to the European rail industry and help transform its riders’ experience.

Already supplying onboard antennas that are 5G-ready in Europe, the company said the rollout will have massive implications for the quality and speed of data communications.

5G offers data transmission speeds up to 100 times faster than with LTE, peaking at up to 20 Gbps. Its introduction will provide rail operators the opportunity to deliver passengers with high-quality real-time travel information and interruption-free Wi-Fi, including the most demanding of video applications. But operators will have to invest in new onboard communications equipment.

The TE antennas are available for mounting outside on vehicle rooftops and inside on ceilings.

New wideband MiMo rooftop antennas have been designed by TE specifically for use in 5G communications on overground and underground trains, as well as metros, trams and buses. Different versions incorporate one or two antenna elements for MiMo operation, providing a very large frequency response ranging from 698 to 6000 MHz. The antennas are also suitable for legacy communications (2G/3G/4G), Wi-Fi, WiMax and GNSS (including GSMR).

The new antennas meet the EN 45545-2 standard covering fire performance of materials and components for trains, as well as EN 50155, which covers various aspects of electronic equipment used in railway rolling stock. They also conform to IP69 relating to protection against dust and water, which means they even resist high-pressure water jets. DC-grounded antenna elements in the rooftop antennas provide voltage protection in case of catenary line drop up to 40 kA, 100 ms. An internal ground plate allows the antenna to be mounted on non-conductive surfaces.

The ceiling-mountable circular onboard Wi-Fi antenna offers up to 4x4 MiMo Wi-Fi coverage. With a frequency response range from 2.4 to 2.5 GHz and 4.9 to 6 GHz, the antenna is ready for the IEEE 802.11ax standard, which should be fully deployed later this year. It offers data throughput at least four times faster than earlier antennas in congested environments, together with 40% higher peak data rates. This antenna has a low profile (height is just 30 mm). It is supplied with flame-retardant CS23 coax cables (EN45545 compliant) and its white radome is also flame retardant. It, too, can be mounted on a non-conductive surface.

Image credit: © Rudyi

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