A Policy Paper from the UK government, released today, has put “Fixing coverage reporting, including on trains and in rural areas” as one of its leading objectives.
However, the document, entitled “UK Wireless Infrastructure Strategy”, makes little mention of how such gaps, once discovered, should be eliminated.
The government points to what it says will be “Substantial investments in telecoms and a new Wireless Infrastructure Strategy to put the UK at the forefront of science and technology, harness enterprise and innovation and drive economic growth.” It seems to make little mention of actual investment in improving trackside coverage.
The policy framework does re-affirm the Sunak administration’s “commitment to extending 4G coverage to 95% of the population, deliver standalone 5G to all populated areas in the UK by 2030, and invest £40 million to drive take up of innovative 5G-enabled services for businesses and the public sector.”
Interestingly, it also announces the launch of an £8 million fund to provide capital grants aimed at promoting satellite connectivity to the most remote 35,000 premises. Clearly this may also assist coverage of rail networks in rural areas.
The satellite fund follows on the heels of the government’s Alpha Trial programme in December 2022, which tested the capability and viability of low earth orbit satellites to deliver high-speed connectivity to homes and businesses in very hard to reach areas.
There are currently some seven sites in the Whitehall supported trials across the UK. These use a mixture of OneWeb and Starlink equipment. They include some of the most remote areas of the UK - Snowdonia National Park, North York Moors, Papa Stour and Lundy Island. The full policy paper can be read here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-wireless-infrastructure-strategy
Exactly how gaps in tackside wireless coverage can be filled, will be one of the main topics of debate at this year’s WiFi on Trains Conference www.Traincomms.com on the 14th and 15th of November.
Train operators from around the world will meet to discuss the growing market for passenger WiFi and on-board entertainment services as well trackside wireless systems.
The Conference will feature presentations from train operators across Europe, the UK and the rest of the world – including the US, Turkey, Australia and Saudi Arabia.
For information on the full programme, please contact Ross.Parsons@BWCS.com