Traincomms News from BWCS

Super-Fast WiFi Hits Seoul Subway

Wednesday 29 Sep 2021

The Science Ministry in South Korea, in conjunction with the country’s three major mobile companies, has launched a trial 28GHz public WiFi service on select subway trains in Seoul. The three carriers, SK, KT and LG Uplus, have installed 28GHz 5G equipment on part of Subway Line 2 from Sinseol-dong Station to Seongsu Station in the capital. According to a statement released yesterday by the Science Ministry, the pilot scheme will check the communication performance between the base stations and subway trains.

In 2020, the average WiFi speed on Seoul subway trains was 71Mbps, which, while it may sound great to some underground and indeed over-ground, train commuters in the UK and Europe, is significantly lower than the download speeds in Seoul’s subway stations, where commuters can expect a blistering 367Mbps download speed.

Earlier this year, the mobile carriers installed a total of 26, 28GHz base stations along the tracks and ten customer premises equipment (CPE) on the trains themselves. In addition, they are using 20 WiFi 6E routers on board. Once the signal is received on the trains the CPE sends it to the WiFi 6E router.

In the statement, the Vice Minister of Science, Cho Kyeong-sik, said that “The government will spare no effort for related policies. I hope that the mobile carriers continue to expand the use of 5G 28GHz while discovering various public services based on 5G 28GHz."

South Korea, and Seoul in particular, already leads the World in adding WiFi to transport services. Seoul’s Metro has offered WiFi to passengers since 2009, initially provided for free only to subscribers of the two mobile companies responsible for the system, but now free to all.

All trains in the country offer free WiFi to passengers. Even the slow running, multi-stopping Mugunghwa trains are equipped to offer WiFi nationally. Last year, Korail said it had completed installing equipment on 609 non-express trains after partnering with the country's top three mobile carriers. Korail had already installed WiFi on the fast inter-city services. Some 35,600 buses across the country also provide mobile WiFi services for passengers. WiFi is also offered across the country’s public spaces, including parks, tourist attractions, markets, and transport hubs.

Seoul city government said recently that it had finished the installation of wireless access points at bus stops a year ahead of schedule. There are 4,080 bus stops in Seoul and the council has added access points at 2,340 of them.

The full programme for this year’s WiFi on Trains Conference (November 16th and 17th) is available now at  .

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