GSM-R and the Road Towards FRMCS

Frequentis is at the centre of this development with the evolution of its fixed terminal system for voice and data communication, FTS 3020. It is used by many of the world’s major railways as a component of the operational communication system. Over the past few years Frequentis has evolved FTS 3020 to become a multi-bearer solution which allows its simplified rail communications application to operate with not only GSM-R but also TETRA and LTE (Long-Term Evolution) wireless communications networks, therefore providing bearer independence and unifying the experience for the operator at the same time.

Over recent years, the railways have realised that placing sole reliance on a single radio platform for their voice and data needs is not the best way forward. Essentially because it creates dependency on one single technology, one single platform, and can result in deeply integrated yet inflexible services.

The Frequentis FTS Bearer Independent Communication (BIC) solution provides a roadmap architecture towards FRMCS and has already been deployed by the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency (FTIA).

The Finnish GSM-R network, RAILI, has been used for operational communications in rail transport in Finland since 2009. However, its operational cost and technical issues (mainly interferences), due to increased usage of 3G and 4G broadband radio technologies, saw the need for an alternative solution and subsequently the FTIA turned to Frequentis.

Frequentis created the Unified Railway Communication and Application (URCA) for FTIA, an end-to-end solution based on the FTS 3020, to fulfil its need for a cost-saving transitional solution to the future GSM-R replacement. It is the first deployment of BIC technology and enables the use of a combination of TETRA and commercial 3G Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) to create a hybrid network covering the entire country. Since February 2019 the Finnish railways has been able to use the Finnish Public Safety digital TETRA radio network and public mobile networks for all railway-specific communication functions. This allows greater flexibility to follow the future evolution of such networks, as well as ensuring less dependency on one specific communication standard. This demonstrates a world-first evolution from GSM-R towards the world of FRMCS.