Huawei looks to accelerate rail’s digital transformation

Image of Huawei Sub-Saharan Africa Enterprise Business president Guo Guoqing

GUO GUOQING Leveraging its Future Railway Mobile Communication System solution, fifth-generation Digital Indoor System and Rail Cloud offerings, Huawei aims to unlock an improved, safer and more efficient railway experience

17th November 2023

By: Natasha Odendaal

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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Information and communication technology giant Huawei is making inroads in delivering connectivity solutions that enable the digital transformation of the railway industry in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and beyond.

Leveraging its Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS) solution, fifth-generation (5G) Digital Indoor System (DIS) and Rail Cloud offerings, Huawei aims to unlock an improved, safer and more efficient railway experience.

This followed a recent signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Southern African Railways Association (SARA) and Huawei to create a nonexclusive framework of cooperation for the transformation of the SADC region’s railway transport and corridor logistics to enable seamless, efficient, smooth, cost-effective and quality railway corridor services across all SARA corridors.

“During SARA 2023, we talked to railway operators and the consensus is that we are all looking for solutions that make railways smarter, safer, more visualised, more efficient and more reliable,” said Huawei sub- Saharan Africa Enterprise Business president Guo Guoqing.

Communication technologies will be crucial for this, with the seamless communication of mission-critical data from signalling equipment, combined with onboard radio and some video connections, able to dramatically enhance an operator’s ability to run an effective and safe train service.

While delivering this level of seamless connectivity to a train travelling in both rural and built-up locations is not an easy task, it is possible by accelerating the shift away from the traditional ultra-high-frequency and second-generation Global System for Mobile Communications-Railway (GSM-R) telecommunications networks that have sustained railway communications for the past two decades.

“These technologies are steadily becoming obsolete and are now simply unable to handle the demands for bandwidth and data required by a twenty-first-century railway,” he said, noting that railway operators should look to embrace FRCMS solutions as a replacement.

“Launched in mid-2019, the long-term evolution- (LTE-) based FRMCS is a digital wireless communication system optimised for railways and has been widely deployed in China. The technology supports a 5G-orientated evolution and interconnectivity with GSM-R, which is likely to remain on many networks up to 2025 and beyond.”

The highly scalable and flexible system, with advanced features including multiple trunking services such as mission-critical push-to-talk voice and data, leverages a single LTE-based FRMCS network to support train control, train dispatching, passenger information system, closed circuit television and other rail services.

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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