Rail

A technological transformation is taking place across the UK’s rail network. As discussed in this article on the Network Rail website, a new ‘Digital Railway’ strategy has officially been launched, taking one of the UK’s most iconic forms of transport into a new era. Both trains themselves and the tracks they run on are increasingly being controlled by digital technology, from upgrades from old analogue signals, to digital control of the trains themselves on the likes of the new Crossrail line. As the chief executive of Network Rail has said, this is the biggest technological revolution on the railways since the transition from steam to diesel in the 1960s.

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Staying on top of standards

LTE

Careful readers of the business pages might have noticed this story in recent weeks: the news that SoftBank, the Japanese mobile technology giant has backed what looks like a bid to create a new mobile network in the UK.

As industry insiders point out, the bid is unlikely to be a serious threat to the country’s four main mobile operators – Vodafone, O2, Three and EE – but it does shed light on a crucial auction due to take place in the coming weeks. Ofcom is releasing more airwaves in a so-called ‘spectrum auction’, for which six companies are registered to bid. As the above article explains, ‘the auction will include 40 MHz of 2.3 GHz band, which is already supported by existing devices, and 150 MHz of 3.4 GHz band which will allow 5G to be rolled out.’

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IWCE 2018

The countdown is on to the International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE) 2018, which takes place from March 5th to 9th in Orlando, Florida. We’re looking forward to packing up our exhibition materials and travelling out to the Sunshine State – especially as we have a raft of exciting new technologies to share with delegates.

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Emergency Services Network

The Emergency Services Network (ESN) is an ongoing project to create a truly next-generation communications system for the UK’s police, fire and rescue, and ambulance services. It’s going to be a unified, integrated Long-Term Evolution (LTE) network that can carry critical data applications and broadband services as well as voice communications, and will be more resilient, reliable and secure than the current, disparate networks. It will enable the three emergency services to communicate and collaborate with each other, ultimately working more effectively and saving more lives. In short, it is intended to carry the UK’s emergency services into the future.

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Critical Communications

January is a month for fresh starts, and looking to the year ahead. With this in mind what will the coming twelve months hold for the world of critical communications? Here are our key ideas…

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Confined Space Engineering

When implementing a unified critical communications network in any environment, there are always issues and challenges to be overcome.  However, when implementing one in a confined space those challenges are augmented, and an entirely new set of difficulties is presented.

Developing a comprehensive communications network that can perform in adverse environments such as road or rail tunnels, or more industrial settings such as mines is not only important to delivering operational success either. Having reliable communications infrastructure in place is a must in order to ensure the safety of any members of staff or the public who may be using the space too. Operators need systems and technologies that can withstand challenging conditions and provide reliable and safe links for those in the confined environment.

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Going underground

Tunnels

One of the UK’s biggest engineering projects marked a major milestone in October, as it was revealed that an Elizabeth line train has been hauled through the Crossrail tunnel for the very first time.

Crossrail is set to increase the rail capacity in central London by 10%, and is expected to carry around 200 million passengers a year when fully open. Its main feature is 13 miles of new twin tunnels, right through central London.

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LTE

Have you got an Apple Watch yet? The third iteration of the device was recently launched – and, as outlined here, it comes with one very distinctive new feature – LTE connectivity.

The jury is still out as to whether this is a game-changing development for the Apple Watch or just a nice-to-have, and regardless of how it ends up positioning Apple in the marketplace, it’s certainly had some technical difficulties to iron out.

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Testing the age of LTE

LTE

The LTE era moved a little closer this month, with the first interoperability tests for mission-critical LTE scheduled to take place at the ETSI headquarters in France.

What does this mean in practice? LTE stands for Long Term Evolution. It’s a next generation standard for mobile communications, the latest iteration of an evolution that started with the analogue 1G standard in the 1980s. LTE increases both the speed and latency of wireless communications, which in turn increases reliability, clarity and mobility, with the opportunity to add more data-rich applications to communications networks.

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