Study points to increased opportunities for 'Broadband on Trains'
04 Oct 2006
A study 'Preparation for Internet to Trains Initiative: Broadband on Trains, Analysis of the Opportunity and Development Roadmap' supported by the European Space Agency offers convincing proof that "the time has never been better to consider the Internet on Trains service".
Already accustomed to broadband networks at stations and airports, users are currently demanding access while on the move. By providing extended coverage, direct access to mobile users and fast deployment of the service satellite telecommunications technologies are effective in providing of broadband access to trains.
Begun in January 2006, the study aimed to outline a sustainable Internet on Trains service, which could be commercially exploited by European operators. The service must be affordable to both train operators and service providers.
The study revealed that access revenues alone cannot justify a business case and revenues from additional ticket sales dominate the financial modelling. This means that companies wishing to provide Broadband on Trains services should establish a tight cooperation with the train operator with the intention of encouraging a larger number of people to use the train instead of other forms of transportation. The business case from train operators must be justified through either generating additional ticket revenues or strategic reasons such as improving operations.
Profits for Europe
Most European countries show a positive business case with Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom being the four most promising countries. In general, a very convincing argument exists for both train operators and Broadband to Trains operators to benefit. A market for Broadband on Trains services could be worth up to 9.6 Billion Euros per year by 2010 across Europe.
The study has demonstrated that the currently already available Ku-band Transponders could, in principle, meet the demand for the entire European High Speed Train fleet. This can be achieved by sharing transponders among different railway operators, for example.
The study has identified also future lines of action from the technical point of view to optimise the overall servcie offering of future systems, recommending exploitation of Ka-band in the satellite segment, especially to provide service to all classes of trains. Multibeam GEO systems are currently being studied and may support the required traffic load. This may, however, require the beams distribution to be modified.
Tunnels remain a constant challenge to full coverage, so the study examined so-called dedicated terrestrial gap fillers, with an emphasis on the frequency band, air-interface, and regulatory issues. Successful application of gap-fillers will require analysis of possible switching techniques between networks.
To read all about ESA Telecom supported projects in the area of Broadband to Trains, please click under related links at the top-right of this page.
ESA supported projects
ESA has already been supporting three projects designed to bring Broadband on Trains. These projects aim to develop and validate satcom based pilot systems for the provision of broadband access on trains. The projects are precursors of what could eventually become a fully operational service.
Carried out by Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, Avanti Communications of the United Kingdom and ARS Traffic and Transport Technology from the Netherlands together with support from ESA, the study's conclusions and outlook have been compiled in a series of highly useful documentation available for downloading.
Included in the documentation, is a Financial Model which is based on the assumptions and results obtained during the study. This model is the same as the one used in the study and can provide data on a wide variety of scenarios.
The documentation can found by clicking under documentation at the top-right of this page.
Last Update: 14 Aug 2008