German Trains on Gigabit Innovation Track


Germany’s Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport is funding a “Gigabit Innovation Track” project to bring digital connectivity to their railway system. The project to introduce 5G capabilities for travelers will include the combined efforts of Deutsche Bahn (DB), Ericsson, O2 Telefónica, and Vantage Towers. As The Fast Mode reports, the cost of the project is expected to run approximately $7 million USD. 

“GINT is a cross-industry project for the future and a prime example of genuine innovation ‘Made in Germany,'” stated Ralf Capito, Director External Affairs at Vantage Towers. “By sharing the use of the masts [cell towers] close to the track, we are creating valuable synergies in the network expansion of mobile network operators and the railway – and thus making rail travel more attractive in the long term. GINT can become a model for Europe.” 

Launched in May 2023, GINT has seen numerous small cell tower units placed alongside railway tracks and has been testing the 5G transmissions, according to The Fast Mode. Ericsson equipment conducts the signal via the O2 Telefónica wireless network, relying on a series of Vantage Towers cell towers. Maintaining a strong signal has been a driving force in coordinating resources to achieve optimal results, according to Vantage engineers. In effect, they say GINT is a test run for the Future Rail Mobile Communication System that Germany already has on the drawing board.

“Our passengers already take first-class mobile and data connections for granted,” noted Daniela Gerd tom Markotten, DB Board Member for Digitalization and Technology. “That’s why we are working with our partners in the GINT project to lay important foundations for the further digitalization of rail operations and excellent connections for passengers. After all, in order to be able to work or stream while traveling without any problems, more and more data is needed, which can be transmitted faster and faster. In this way, we are strengthening rail as the environmentally friendly mode of transport of the future.”

Some of the specific innovations lauded include Vantage Towers’ pole design, according to The Fast Mode. The GINT project has employed a new type of metal pole that can be anchored to the ground quickly without needing to pour a concrete base first. The towers stand roughly 49-ft tall and are meant to blend in with the environment. The MIMO antennas attached to the poles have demonstrated that a continuous 5G signal for train riders is sustainable. Test labs are preparing to conduct further research at higher speeds, with the next round of testing set to measure signals transmitting to trains traveling at 87 mph. 

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