Germany’s network coverage is a problem for many. Residents of rural regions in particular can only dream of fast 5G. They are happy when they get access to mobile Internet at all. Now Vodafone wants to supply the Erzgebirge region in Saxony with fast 5G. However, the Internet provider has a completely different goal in mind than ensuring a fast network for the region’s residents. Instead, the company wants to test a remote-controlled train service in collaboration with Chemnitz Technical University.
Erzgebirge to get Europe’s fastest mobile Internet
Currently, many employees have to work from home again due to corona. But there are professions that simply cannot be done from home. In addition to police officers and doctors, train drivers are also among the occupational group of those who have to leave their own four walls for work. But if a research team at Chemnitz University of Technology has its way, home office should also be possible for train drivers in the future. To create the technical conditions for this, the university is working with the Internet provider Vodafone. They want to install 5G on a 25 km test track to lay the foundation for remote-controlled train operation. In the Erz Mountains of Saxony, more precisely between the idyllic towns of Annaberg-Buchholz and Schwarzenberg, they want to test the potentially groundbreaking technology.
Automated train traffic is the future
Trains that run by ghostly hand have so far been familiar mainly from the Far East. But it probably won’t be too long before we can also benefit from automated train operation in this country. The “Project Smart Rail Connectivity Campus” will not only examine the extent to which train traffic could be automated in the future. The focus is also on the general digitization of rail traffic. The basic prerequisite for the project is, of course, fast Internet. Vodafone’s Germany boss Hannes Ametsreiter also made this clear in a statement:
“In order to control trains remotely, in addition to high bandwidths, real-time data exchange is needed above all. With 5G stand-alone, we bring the most modern network to the most modern trains”
Controlling trains from the comfort of your own desk
If Vodafone actually succeeds in launching a “real-time network,” train drivers would be able to control a train from home without delay. In order to be able to fully investigate the possibilities of remote-controlled train operation, Vodafone has launched its own 5G specifically for the experiment. This is independent of the existing network in order to avoid mutual interference. However, it is not only the automated and remote-controlled operation of trains that is to be tested with the help of a stable mobile Internet.
Other advantages would also result from “smart” trains. For example, far better networking could be created between trains and significant locations such as level crossings. Just imagine a vehicle standing on the tracks at an ungated level crossing. If a suitable camera were to be fed into the shared network, the train would be able to indicate the danger at an early stage or even react independently and reduce its speed. This would create more safety and could effectively prevent train accidents.
Faster network for passengers, too
But trains are not only to become smarter thanks to high-speed Internet. Passengers are also to benefit. Thus, Vodafone also wants to speed up the network around the train tracks as part of its trial setup. This should not only put the possible faster Internet speeds to the test for passengers. On top of that, residents in the test region should be able to benefit from the latest mobile communications standard. These will be very happy about it. After all, 5G is anything but a given, especially in regions like the rather rural Erzgebirge.