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Government Seeks Suppliers for 5G Trial on Trans Pennine Route

Friday, August 17th, 2018 (3:56 pm) - Score 1,514
trains network rail engineers

The UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) has today issued a new ‘Call for Expressions of Interest‘ in their proposed £35m trial of 5G based mobile broadband and fibre optic technology on the Trans Pennine rail (trains) route between Manchester and York in England.

The Trans Pennine Initiative (TPI), which was first announced last year, is a joint effort between the Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) and 5G Testbeds and Trials (5GTT) Programmes, with Network Rail (NR) acting as the government’s delivery partner.

All of this will also go toward supporting the Government’s current proposals to make “uninterruptedWiFi and Mobile (5G) broadband speeds of up to 1Gbps (Gigabits per second) available on-board all UK mainline train routes by 2025.

Margot James MP, UK Minister for Digital, said:

“The importance of fast, reliable and uninterrupted connectivity on our rail network is only going to increase. Projects like the Trans Pennine Initiative will be instrumental in delivering this for passengers, and are all part of our commitment to make the UK a world leader in 5G.”

In keeping with this the new call for information to industry (send responses to 5genquiries@culture.gov.uk) will aim to provide information necessary to assist in the trial and to “identify any constraints and concerns that potential trialists envisage“. The closing date for comments to be submitted is noon 14th September 2018.

DCMS anticipate companies selected to take part in the trial will be given the opportunity to:

* Deploy their trial radio equipment on the TPI pilot route without the need to invest in trackside infrastructure.

* Benefit from financial support for installation activities on the TPI pilot route.

* Demonstrate the viability of their products in a live environment with a wide demographic of passengers, including business commuters, day trippers and long distance travellers. This will help allowing for testing of capacity, coverage and security.

* Make use of a new 5G facility at Melton Mowbray where technologies can be tested.

As part of TPI, Network Rail are deploying a high capacity (433 fibre) spine along the route between Manchester and York via the LFFN programme. This is being built as a new overlay to any existing fibre that may exist alongside this rail route, and therefore is isolated from any mission critical systems operated by Network Rail. It is also intended to provide connectivity from this spine into both the Manchester and Leeds Internet Exchanges.

This fibre will be used to provide back-haul connectivity from the mast locations and support the trial. However, there will be unused fibres which can be used to provide fixed network connectivity between locations along this rail corridor.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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5 Responses
  1. Tim

    Could not care about 5G. Please can we have good 4G coverage first!?

    • The coverage obligations for 4G spectrum are pretty average but the forthcoming auction of 5G targeted 700MHz will add a much stricter requirement for 5G, which is thus more likely to produce a better end result. Assuming operators then agree to bid on it.

    • Brian

      With the limits on VOLTE would be better if the operators could manage 3G

  2. pedantic

    “It is also intended to provide connectivity from this spine into both the Manchester and Leeds Internet Exchanges.”

    Are the trialists required to connect to either/both of IX-Manchester or IXLeeds?

    And will Network Rail Telecom be providing this as an end to end service into the facilities which contain these IX’s, or is this just fluff and general hand waving?

    PS I am not convinced that anyone will be deploying a “433 fibre”, perhaps this should be a 432 core fibre which would provide 216 pairs suitable for us with regular optics…

    Is there an original press release that could perhaps be linked to such that its clear if these errors are coming from the source rather than being inaccurately reported?

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