Every form of transport in the UK has its advantages and its drawbacks for the user. Driving by car is generally the most cost effective but can be very time consuming, particularly if there are major road congestion problems on route.
Flying is regarded as the quickest way to travel long distances in the UK but the overall length of time before and after the flight itself can often make a short flight last several hours. And that is without volcanic ash and industrial disputes.
Also for today’s business user, road and air travel can often mean lengthy spells without access to emails and the internet, and constant access is vital nowadays to so many people on the move.
Until recently, the same communications ‘black hole
’ was also true for train travel but, thanks to Virgin Trains’ desire to provide travellers with high performance on-board communications, a train journey can also be a productive journey.Challenging environment
Several mobile network providers and communications specialist companies answered Virgin’s original call to develop an on-board broadband system that could overcome the Faraday Cage-like properties of a modern train carriage, an environment not helped by the use of reflective glass to reduce the warming effects of sunlight. In effect, the carriage itself is a significant barrier to wireless communications within the vehicle.
Throughout the design, development and early prototyping cycles, several of these companies pulled out of the project or were merged with or acquired by competitors. Last man standing, so to speak, at the end of the prototyping stage was a UK company which has now become a technology and market leader in providing wireless network solutions for transportation applications and has built an enviable reputation for developing rolling stock and trackside communications systems for the railway industry.
Called Nomad Digital
, the company has achieved a number of rail industry communications firsts in the eight years since its formation in 2002. Nomad was the first company to trial WiFi on trains and the first to trial IEEE802.16 as a backhaul technology for trains. Nomad was also the first to roll out a trackside network specifically for data services to moving trains and the first to stream live video to and from moving trains.
Key to Nomad’s success has been its ability to deliver the required bandwidth and quality of service to the train operator and its passengers. Cleverly, the Nomad solution uses 3G public networks when available and can switch to its own Wimax networks as an ‘infill’ when needed. Nomad also provides a complete build service from an initial radio survey and network design to installation, TruViewcommissioning and network monitoring and support. For network installation, Nomad relies upon a select group of specialist companies capable of providing not only the product, but also the capability to install, test and maintain the on-board communications system. Although universally recognised for its technology leading connector, cable and antenna product offering, HUBER+SUHNER (UK) provides many of its customers with a design, installation and support capability and was selected by Nomad to partner with them on the Virgin Trains project.
Nigel Wallbridge, Nomad’s executive chairman said “The partnership between HUBER+SUHNER and Nomad Digital has helped Nomad to deploy WiFi on train projects around the world.
In addition to supplying high quality rail approved cable and antenna assemblies, HUBER+SUHNER (UK) have provided a total turnkey logistics support package enabling rapid start up and consistent quality of train kits. The ability of HUBER+SUHNER (UK) to assist with hardware design and build of Nomad proprietary components has added significantly to the value of our partnership.”
From the antenna to the transceiver
Each of HUBER+SUHNER’s three key areas of expertise was called upon by Nomad from the very early stages. Providing rail passengers with reliable high-speed internet access while the train is travelling at more than 100mph through a mixture of cities, towns and the countryside requires a unique infrastructure capable of operating in pretty extreme environments.
HUBER+SUHNER’s low frequency control and power cables and cable systems, together with the company’s Ethernet cables provide the connectivity across the Nomad solution. On the high frequency side, coaxial cable assemblies and connectors as well as antennas with built-in high voltage protection devices complete the on-board communications system.
HUBER+SUHNER’s SENCITY® Rail Antenna family is designed specifically for railway carriage rooftop applications. These are omni-directional antennas for single and multi-band systems and meet the stringent standards set by the railway industry including full electrical isolation which is particularly important on trains which use overhead lines for power.
Complementing these high-performance rooftop antennas is a family of in-carriage directional and omni-directional antennas for WiFi, Wimax and cellular distribution systems. These are supplied in a variety of form factors, colours and mounting options to suit the specific application.
The company’s low frequency RADOX® cable family meets all the relevant safety standards for passenger train installations including the all-important requirement to protect people and equipment against flammability and toxic fumes in case of fire. HUBER+SUHNER’s radio frequency capability includes carefully matched products in the 0 to 6GHz frequency range as well as lightning protection components and surge protection devices.
The fibre optic solutions offered by HUBER+SUHNER are designed to ensure continuous data transmission in the Mobile Network infrastructure under extreme environmental conditions. As well as their immunity to electromagnetic fields, fibre optic cable and connector systems benefit from low weight and compact size. Fibre optic cables also allow for an increase in data handling when new features are added to the network.Complete project management (Prince 2), logistic solutions, engineering and installation capability
The rail industry is just one of many market sectors that rely on HUBER+SUHNER’s connectivity solutions. From design excellence and high quality levels inherent in everything the company manufactures, HUBER+SUHNER UK offers much more than cable and connector products.
The very high degree of connectivity expertise available enables HUBER+SUHNER UK to provide support at all stages of a customer’s project from original design concepts and prototyping, to production and assembly and on through to field installation and service.
For more information visitwww.hubersuhner.co.uk