Space software developer CGI has been chosen by the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the UK Space Agency and the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop a demonstration of a hybrid satellite communications and terrestrial network for use on trains.
The project is part of a joint initiative in the UK to demonstrate the integrated use of 5G in the area of transport and logistics. Known as a Satellites for Digitalisation of Railways (SODOR) project, it will deliver pilot demonstrations of improved network connectivity for train monitoring and passenger broadband in 2022.
The project aims to demonstrate the way new constellations of communication satellites can fill gaps in terrestrial coverage and provide additional capacity to improve safety and provide travellers with better connectivity.
Senior telecomms innovation engineer at Network Rail, Robert Gardner, said: “Over the coming decade, new-age satellite communications have the potential to transform how we provide data connectivity to railway vehicles, particularly in rural and remote regions. Through our involvement in Project SODOR, we aim to learn more about how modern satcoms can supplement terrestrial wireless communications and explore the potential value and benefits to passengers and the operational railway system.”
Head of telecommunications at the UK Space Agency, Mike Rudd, added: “Satellites play a vital role in keeping people connected, but they can also help keep us safe by providing reliable communications links between trains, drivers and operators.
“This new project is a great example of the National Space Strategy in action, drawing on CGI’s expertise in satellite communications and working closely with our partners in the ESA to demonstrate how this technology could help supercharge mobile connectivity across the national rail network.”
Senior Vice President, UK & Australia space control and information solutions at CGI, Shaun Stretton, commented: “In today’s world, consumers have come to rely on ubiquitous access to the internet and losing a mobile signal on a train journey is no longer an acceptable inconvenience. It also has commercial implications for the operator and, under some circumstances, could even present a safety issue for drivers.
“We are pleased to be working with ESA and the UK Government, along with a wide range of partners, to demonstrate how bringing together satellite communications and terrestrial networks will solve this. CGI is uniquely positioned to unlock these benefits through our experience and IT capabilities across the space, telecoms and rail domains.”