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Better internet connection on trains starting next year in Finland

There will be a stable 4G signal along all rail routes

  • October 18, 2019 19:30
  • Author Monika Dimitrova
Medium train

Mobile network operators in Finland will be required to provide a 4G signal along all rail routes, in the beginning of 2020.

When trains pass through the forests and fields of the countryside they are often too far away from the mobile network towers serving residential areas and signals fall off and service breaks up.

Mobile net connection speeds on trains can also plummet on high-traffic routes between the big Finish cities when numerous users at the same time switched to a new network cell.

The WiFi networks provided by the state railways VR are reliant on the signal available from mobile network operators along its routes.

Upgrade needed

During the last round of licensing for the construction of 4G networks, one of the conditions stipulated by the government of Finland was that all rail lines should have full signal coverage no later than February 2020.

In Finland there are three owner-operators of mobile networks – Elisa, DNA and Telia. Up until now, their operations were concentrated only within residential areas.

All three operators are agree that network coverage along rail routes is important. At the same time, significant improvements to data services for rail passengers will cost tens or even hundreds of millions of euros.

Upgrading all train infrastructure to receive the same kind of data services as are available in an urban areas in practice is an unreasonably large investment.

While the terms of their licenses obligate the three companies to upgrade their Wi-Fi services for rail passengers, the Finnish Transport and Communications agency Traficom has still not determined what the required minimum signal quality will be.

It is expected for all stakeholders to start discussions on upgrading data services for the passengers sometime later in October .

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