Those who want to make phone calls or surf the web on the train are all too often disappointed at the moment. That should change soon – everywhere in the 33,400-kilometer-long rail network.
LSeamless mobile phone reception on the train – so far, German rail customers can only dream of that. But this should become reality in the foreseeable future, at least if it is up to the network operators, Deutsche Bahn and the Federal Ministry of Transport. Deutsche Telekom wants to seamlessly supply the entire DB route network with its mobile network and high-speed Internet by the end of 2026. Until then, there should be no supply gaps in long-distance or regional transport. The company announced this on Wednesday in Berlin. The basis for this medium-term planning is a cooperation that was presented at a joint press conference between Deutsche Bahn, Telekom and the Federal Ministry of Transport.
It is agreed that Telekom will rapidly expand its mobile network on the DB railways, close gaps and significantly increase the network’s performance. According to the information, both companies are jointly investing a three-digit million amount to implement these goals. On many routes, the planned investments will be made by 2024, as it was said, on all routes by the end of 2026 at the latest. “On some regional routes, passengers will then have reception for the first time,” the companies say.
200 Mbit / s – and more
The project is ambitious, after all, the DB route network covers a total of 33,400 kilometers. According to the information, Telekom wants to supply the 7800 kilometers of main traffic routes on which all ICE trains run with an Internet data rate of more than 200 megabits per second by the end of 2024. This speed should be possible by the end of 2025 on a further 13,800 kilometers, which are considered to be “high-volume” and on which more than 2000 passengers are en route every day. All other routes should receive at least data rates of more than 100 megabits per second by the end of 2026.
As it was said, the Telekom wants to put around 800 new mobile radio locations into operation in the coming years and expand the capacity at several hundred locations. In turn, Deutsche Bahn announced that it would make more space and fiber-optic infrastructure available along the rails and offer services relating to planning, approval and construction processes. In addition, work is being done to ensure that the mobile radio signals arrive better inside the trains.
“Whether at the train station or in the tunnel, on the ICE or on the regional express – the era of ‘I don’t have a network’ must come to an end,” said Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer. Mobile surfing and telephoning should be possible anytime and anywhere – Deutsche Bahn and Deutsche Telekom are now showing the way there. Telekom CEO Timotheus Höttges called the cooperation a clear signal: “We want to make Germany more digital.” Railway boss Richard Lutz emphasized that passengers rightly demand a seamless mobile network. Now we are creating the conditions for this, and rail travel will become even more attractive. Those involved spoke of a “milestone”.
Vodafone takes care of the tunnels
Telekom is not the only network operator who is negotiating with Deutsche Bahn about better mobile communications. Vodafone and Telefónica are also in regular discussions with the rail company on this subject. Vodafone explained that they will build cell phone stations for all tunnels by 2024 and close 360 more radio gaps on the railway lines. In addition, by activating LTE900 on 6,000 mobile radio stations, the Düsseldorf-based company is also increasing the bandwidth and network capacity along the entire rail network.