Class 444 Wi-Fi

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TEW

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Some good news for SWT passengers. The long awaited introduction of Wi-Fi to the Class 444s is finally nearly here. Trains have already been fitted with the equipment and it should start going live from Monday, with the full fleet up and running by the following Monday. Even better news is that it will be free for all to use.
 
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AM9

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Some good news for SWT passengers. The long awaited introduction of Wi-Fi to the Class 444s is finally nearly here. Trains have already been fitted with the equipment and it should start going live from Monday, with the full fleet up and running by the following Monday. Even better news is that it will be free for all to use.

If they don't put it on the 450s running the same routes, there'll be even more whingeing about why there aren't more 444s.
 

antharro

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Given I use the 444s on a regular basis, this is very welcome indeed. Do we know which mobile phone network they'll be using? Coverage in certain areas on the SW mainline is patchy at best once you get south of Woking...
 

TEW

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I'm not sure on the technical side of it. I've only used it Guildford-Waterloo so far, where as you'd expect performance is good. Especially since nobody else would have been using it yet. Be interesting to see how it performs from Monday, and in areas where phone reception is more patchy.
 

bigdelboy

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I'm not sure on the technical side of it. I've only used it Guildford-Waterloo so far, where as you'd expect performance is good. Especially since nobody else would have been using it yet. Be interesting to see how it performs from Monday, and in areas where phone reception is more patchy.

Chalk and St. Catherines should test it ... in fact most of the way south of Guildford to Pompey. 450'ers will be doubly unhappy ....

Mind you (some) Havant to Pompey buses have stagecoach Wi-Fi so perhaps it will attract some back off the buses to the train ... ;)
 

Aictos

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Who's the network provider of the service of the wifi provided on the 444s and what's the chances of it being provided on the 450s at a later date?
 
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I have heard that wi-fi will be going into the 458/5s as part of the compensation for the late delivery.
 

swt_passenger

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I have heard that wi-fi will be going into the 458/5s as part of the compensation for the late delivery.

Yes, it was announced by SWT in the June press release explaining the delays:

We have continued to raise our concerns about the impact of the delay on our passengers and in recognition of the inconvenience caused by the delay to the programme, Porterbrook and Alstom have agreed to fund the installation of WiFi on the new Class 458/5 Fleet.

http://www.southwesttrains.co.uk/longertrains.aspx
 

jopsuk

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As I understand it, most of these wifi systems require some level of lineside infrastructure, yes? So they can only provide the service on lines that are upgraded?
 

scotsman

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As I understand it, most of these wifi systems require some level of lineside infrastructure, yes? So they can only provide the service on lines that are upgraded?

Nope, but it can help. NR's new lineside 4G network on the WCML will also be used by Virgin for wifi.

Icomera usually installs and maintains the kit - it's essentially just a big antennae in a dome which has sim cards for all the major networks and supplies the service from the strongest at that moment.

Here's a blurb on it. http://www.icomera.com/solutions/east-coast-uk/
 

Juniper Driver

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Hah...penny has just dropped...Noticed something on a 444 that wasn't there before.(apart from the WIFI mcb)
 
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Carlisle

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Nope, but it can help. NR's new lineside 4G network on the WCML will also be used by Virgin for wifi.

With GSMR being only being a 2g system ,when is Network Rail due to be commissioning a 4g network ? On Milton Keynes platform today I can't even get a 3G signal yet :)
 
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NSEFAN

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Carlisle said:
With GSMR being only being a 2g system ,when is Network Rail due to be commissioning a 4g network ? On Milton Keynes platform today I can't even get a 3G signal yet
Why would you want to mix a safety critical system and a consumer internet service together?
 

Carlisle

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Why would you want to mix a safety critical system and a consumer internet service together?

I was just asking in response to another poster on here who said Network Rail planned a 4g system on the WCML
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
What network are you on? On O2 I get full 3G there.

I'm on vodafone
 

NSEFAN

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HarleyDavidson said:
Saves bandwidth. It should be quite easy to do with encryption.
My concern was more when a base station is serving the maximum number of users. I'm guessing that a passenger would be kicked off the (4G :D ) service so that the train's GSMR kit can remain connected? Or is it a case that the base stations will have seperate 2G and 4G systems, with the former for GSMR and the latter for consumer internet?
 

HarleyDavidson

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My concern was more when a base station is serving the maximum number of users. I'm guessing that a passenger would be kicked off the (4G :D ) service so that the train's GSMR kit can remain connected? Or is it a case that the base stations will have seperate 2G and 4G systems, with the former for GSMR and the latter for consumer internet?

Without going into a whole load of on-board cupboards & I simply cannot be bothered to go looking through all of them I wouldn't know,what is where and I most certainly don't care. As long as my GSMR works is all I worry about.
 

Carlisle

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is it a case that the base stations will have seperate 2G and 4G systems, with the former for GSMR and the latter for consumer internet?

If I had to make a guess I would say your pretty likely to be right with that assumption
 
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jon0844

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GSM-R is almost certainly not going to be tied in with the Wi-Fi system.

Perhaps in the future, the train will use the onboard Wi-Fi (factory installed by the train manufacturer, rather than added on retrospectively) to communicate data securely, such as transmitting onboard CCTV and receiving live running info for the CIS (and not just to relay to users who go to the onboard Wi-Fi homepage) - but GSM-R will still remain a separate system for safety reasons.
 

PermitToTravel

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GSM-R actually does have support for service prioritisation and can be used safely and securely to deliver services like train wi-fi. It can be set up with varying priorities, so that for example train wi-fi will degrade in favour of guard credit card authorisation, which in turn will degrade in favour of signalling.

As far as I'm aware there's no provision for passenger devices to connect directly to it, though - there has to be a router on the train broadcasting wi-fi.
 

Feathers44

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GSM-R is almost certainly not going to be tied in with the Wi-Fi system.

Perhaps in the future, the train will use the onboard Wi-Fi (factory installed by the train manufacturer, rather than added on retrospectively) to communicate data securely, such as transmitting onboard CCTV and receiving live running info for the CIS (and not just to relay to users who go to the onboard Wi-Fi homepage) - but GSM-R will still remain a separate system for safety reasons.

That's certainly the way they do it on aircraft - their SATCOM systems can provide service for both cockpit and cabin (public) data streams but they're separated and managed differently and in no way does the presence of the cockpit data stream replace any of the mandatory other communications paths that are required (as far as I know).
 

jon0844

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GSM-R actually does have support for service prioritisation and can be used safely and securely to deliver services like train wi-fi. It can be set up with varying priorities, so that for example train wi-fi will degrade in favour of guard credit card authorisation, which in turn will degrade in favour of signalling.

As far as I'm aware there's no provision for passenger devices to connect directly to it, though - there has to be a router on the train broadcasting wi-fi.

GSM is slow. You wouldn't use it for data even if you could. GPRS or EDGE? No thank you. Totally unusable for providing data for Wi-Fi, but probably okay for communicating train diagnostic information and other logistical data.

For providing data, you'd use a combination of satellite, 3G and 4G. Satellite having obviously the largest latency, followed by 3G. 4G is much, much more efficient and the lower latency will really improve the user experience on trains (and buses etc). With 800MHz 4G, coverage is massively improved too - or will be once rolled out more widely in rural areas.

There are currently issues delaying 4G being 'boosted' in that voice is carried over 2G and 3G, so 4G coverage can't go beyond the legacy networks. Once Voice over LTE is launched, the problem will go away and 4G can suddenly fill places that have little to no coverage.

I can't really stress how much more efficient 4G is over 3G. Such that I'd say that as soon as possible networks should seek to be able to re-use 3G frequencies to provide 4G services. Ditch 3G and pretend it never existed! 2G can stay as it's a good, solid, dependable system with lots of embedded systems using it to communicate.

And, yes, one good thing about GSM (and that applies to the normal service) is prioritisation. Thus the emergency services (well some people within the services) are given SIM cards with a higher priority, and the power to boot others off if required. The only time Joe Public can do this is when attempting an emergency call, although I don't know if every network allows this [namely, calling 112/999 will get through even if it has to knock someone else off the network].
 

swt_passenger

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Back in the early days of NR putting up masts for GSM(R), and amid public concerns, I'm sure it said somewhere on the GSM[R) website that they were able to put up the masts using permitted development rights, as it was a signalling system upgrade, but if they wanted to piggyback public comms they would need separate planning permission, which wasn't expected to be forthcoming. So somewhere there's a statement that public data comms would never be added to their masts.
 

HarleyDavidson

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That was a stupid idea with hindsight as you could now use those masts to improve mobile phone coverage with minimal costs to the operators and gain some useful revenue from the mobile operators for sharing.
 

AM9

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That was a stupid idea with hindsight as you could now use those masts to improve mobile phone coverage with minimal costs to the operators and gain some useful revenue from the mobile operators for sharing.

The problem there is that the antennas are highly directional yagis aimed to provide coverage along the line with as little as possible spill elsewhere. Reception from within the 'tube' that the coaches form is poor compared with that provided by the fixed external GSM-R installation aerials.
 

jon0844

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Many antennas don't seem very conventional, but then the network surely doesn't have to be built to cope with the sort of usage a public phone network would.

Remember too that all upgraded 3G and 4G sites now have at the very minimum a 1 gigabit fibre connection, compared to rather pathetic connections for old 2G sites. Even many old O2, Vodafone and Orange legacy 3G sites are still unable to provide anything over 384Kbps on 3G - and the railway doesn't even use 3G!
 

MrC

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The problem there is that the antennas are highly directional yagis aimed to provide coverage along the line with as little as possible spill elsewhere. Reception from within the 'tube' that the coaches form is poor compared with that provided by the fixed external GSM-R installation aerials.

I think the idea is that you use the masts to hang additional commercial base station antenna off!
 

AM9

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I think the idea is that you use the masts to hang additional commercial base station antenna off!

That still doesn't help passengers much as they will be trying to receive a signal along the length of the train. Normal mobile reception on trains is via the public network base stations that will normally be off the line of the railway which means that the signal path is just through the windows or at most the sides of the coaches. In locations where the nearest base is directly forward or behind the train, the handset would roam onto an alternative base that was in range, (up to 35 miles).
UHF signals would not get through several steel/aluminium bulkheads very well so unless future stock is manufactured in grp or kevlar, expect mobile reception to be viable only laterally through the sides of coaches. Therefore the GSM-R network masts are in the worst possible locations for on-train reception.
 
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