Beware, Future Railway Mobile Communication System is almost here
Well, no worries we are more than well prepared. Teleste has been in the forefront of the development of Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS) standard from very early on, since 2015 when the work with technical requirements was started in 3gpp.
The Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS) will be the 5G global standard for railway operational communications. It shall comply with European regulation as well as with the needs and obligations of rail organizations outside of Europe. The work on functional & technical requirements, specification & standardization in 3GPP as well as spectrum harmonization solutions is currently led by International Union of Railways, in cooperation with the whole railway sector.
Another 5G related activity with FRMCS standardization has been ‘Strategic Deployment Agenda for 5G Connectivity and Spectrum for Rail’, led by CER (Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies)-EIM (European Rail Infrastructure Managers). ‘Strategic Deployment Agenda for 5G Connectivity and Spectrum for Rail’ describes and provides guidance on how to implement two 5G lighthouses that will enhance railway services and operations, and help achieve the desired ‘shift to rail’: the ‘Gigabit Train’ (reliable and high-performance connectivity for passengers), which enhances customer experience; and Digital Rail Operations (communication services necessary for train movement and rail operation enhancement), which improves capacity and regularity of railways. Our input was focusing on the latter of the 5G lighthouses, ‘Gigabit Train’, where scenarios and requirements for passenger connectivity were elaborated.
Recently we joined – with many of our key customers – into European Union funded research project 5GRAIL, which aims to verify the first set of FRMCS specifications and standards (FRMCS V1). The verification is by large implemented by developing and testing prototypes of the FRMCS ecosystem. The validation of the latest available railway-relevant 5G specifications will be achieved through cross-border emulation trials, which cover significant portions of railway operational communication requirements and includes the core technological innovations for rail expected from 5G release 16 and pre-release 17.
The functional tests are defined in the first phase of the project and then work is continued with the development and evaluation of prototypes, for both onboard and infrastructure, including vital (ETCS, ATO) and essential (voice specific services, TCMS and video) applications. The testing of the prototypes will be executed in simulated and real environments, with pilots in labs and in the field rolled out in various European sites (France, Hungary and Germany), to ensure compliancy and validation for FRMCS specifications, standards and performance, and consequently the time to market for FRMCS deployments, planned for 2025 as per European timeline, is guaranteed.
Finally, 5GRAIL will deliver test report conclusions to potentially update FRMCS V1 specifications and to identify technical constraints related to implementation issues. Teleste’s focus is on the verification and validation of video/CCTV applications, wireless offload as one of them, with FRMCS system.
It is utterly important for us that we have been able to be part of the development of railway industry’s future standard FRMCS since its early beginnings and that we are also today among the few companies, including many of our key customers, taking part in verification and validation work. We want to ensure that when the commercial deployments of FRMCS start in 2025, we can up the ante with our state-of-the art and FRMCS compliant applications.