Finnish Railways to Use VIRVE, Public Networks for Communications
Wednesday, February 06, 2019 | Comments

Finnish railway users can now use VIRVE, the Finnish public-safety digital TETRA radio network, and public mobile networks for all railway-specific communications functionalities. Frequentis implemented the Unified Railway Communication and Application (URCA) system to fulfill the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency (FTIA) need for a transitional solution to the future GSM-R replacement.

The Finnish GSM-R network, RAILI, has been used for operational voice communications in rail transport in Finland since 2008. Purchased systems’ impending end of life cycle and increased radio interference from commercial mobile networks were triggers for searching for an alternative communications solution. URCA uses VIRVE to provide a national rail voice and dispatch system based on Frequentis’ bearer-independent architecture, considered to be the first bearer-independent communication (BIC) solution for rail in Europe, the company said.

“We selected the application solution from Frequentis to support us in this transitional replacement of GSM-R and allow communications to continue independently of the radio network technology,” said Markku Voutilainen with FTIA. “This enables us toward our goal for cost savings and efficiency.”

The contract also included voice recording and a special smartphone application called RAPLI, which also allows the usage of the rail-specific functions on the public mobile networks. Train radio is required to be TETRA technology based on EU derogation, but all other mobile users can choose between the TETRA and public mobile network.

“The URCA is an end-to-end solution based on the Frequentis fixed terminal rail voice communication system, FTS 3020,” said Thomas Karl, Frequentis vice president public transport. “It enables the use of the TETRA-based network, as well as public mobile networks, including broadband networks in the future with a rail feature set to provide an entirely new set of options beyond GSM-R. The FTS 3020 is the ultimate migration platform towards FRMCS.”

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