Asian Transport Market Invests in Digital
By Phil Kidner
Monday, July 17, 2017 | Comments
Asia is a key market for critical communications systems for transport. Many developing countries are investing massively in transit systems. China, for example, adds 450 subway stations on average every year. By 2020, Beijing and Shanghai will have 1,050 and 970 kilometers of subway, respectively, making their networks among the longest in the world.

Critical communications in China and the wider Asia market have developed quickly during the past decade as many countries and areas moved to digital solutions. Multiple digital technologies including TETRA, Project 25 (P25), Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) and Professional Digital Trunking (PDT) have been adopted in the Asian market, the second-largest TETRA market behind Europe. In China, TETRA is the leading digital technology in critical communications, with more than 300 TETRA networks in operation. China is also becoming the pioneer of dedicated broadband for critical communications with advances in broadband trunking standardizations and dedicated network allocations.

In terms of transport sectors, the requirements are slightly different. China Railways selected GSM-R rather than TETRA to apply the International Union of Railways (UIC) standard and integrate it with the train control system. At that time, GSM-R was the only technology that had references in such integration.

In the metro sector, almost all the metro companies in China, including Hong Kong, have adopted TETRA as their radio communications system because TETRA can fully meet their requirements in locomotive dispatching communications. Previously, almost all the major airports in the region used an analog trunking system. In the move to digital, TETRA was selected because it offered the best choice in terms of big network capacities in small areas while having abundant group communications features.

This year, contracts have been signed for TETRA systems on the metro serving Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province in central China, and the metro of Fuzhou, the capital of Fujian province on the southeast coast of China. The lines are expected to enter operation in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Four underground metro lines in Chongqing, a city of some 18 million inhabitants and the largest in southwest China, will also be served by TETRA technology.

Shanghai, a major center for trade and business and one of the most populous cities in the world, is served by two airports that together surpassed the 100-million passenger mark in combined passenger traffic last year. The Shanghai aviation hub is a pioneer in the deployment of many advanced solutions for critical communications in China — from its first analog system in 1994 to an upgrade to a digital solution in 2006. The aviation hub currently operates an end-to-end integrated TETRA communications system.

In India, a TETRA-based mission-critical radio communications system is being delivered for the second phase of the Mumbai Monorail. The solution is integrated with the signaling system, public announcement system, onboard train communications system, telephony system and centralized recording system. The Mumbai monorail project will have the capacity to carry nearly 300,000 commuters on a daily basis.

The transport sector, one of the most active markets for critical communications, is preparing for future evolutions. Some metro companies and airports are implementing hybrid networks by using TETRA for voice and broadband for data. However, voice communications, which will migrate from existing narrowband to broadband, needs time because of technological maturity and the availability of frequency resources. In many regions including Asia, rail operators are still realizing advances in cellular technology.

Long Term Evolution (LTE) brings significant advantages for both public-safety and cellular communications, including higher data speeds, lower latency and high spectrum efficiency. Deploying this technology on public transport allows device users to stream high-quality content and video-call colleagues and friends, as well as enable emergency services to share interactive, real-time video links of incidents, allowing faster situation analysis and response times. LTE could also support passenger information systems, onboard security surveillance and communications between rail network employees.

Phil Kidner is CEO of TCCA, a global organization representing the interests of users, operators, manufacturers and other stakeholders in the critical communications industries. TCCA leads the global development and promotion of TETRA and other standardized critical communications technologies for professional users. Email feedback to

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