LILEE Systems, a provider of advanced wireless communication solutions in industrial IoT and cloud-based network solutions, is collaborating with Fluidmesh Networks, manufacturer of fast-roaming wireless networking products, to provide train-to-ground communications to railways around the world.
Fluidmesh Networks has developed a wireless train-to-ground solution based on an MPLS (Multi-Protocol Label Switching) protocol. The system provides up to 500 Mbps of usable throughput on-board trains traveling at a speed of up to 220 mph (354 km/h) and supports both vital and non-vital applications. Using specialized antenna and radio technology, Fluidmesh solutions work both above- and under-ground and support a trackside spacing up to 8 km (5 miles), the highest in the industry.
As the interest and demand for more onboard applications is growing, so is the need for high bandwidth data requirements. There is a significant focus on augmenting the number of applications and services onboard the trains to provide increased safety, information, and connectivity to passengers, as well as real-time monitoring systems. These new requirements increase the importance of having a reliable, robust infrastructure for train to ground communications, as more and more services add pressure to the bandwidth needed to support them, increasing the cost of LTE significantly.
Railways around the world, traditionally relying on LTE-based communications to support their rail operations, are increasingly deploying alternative radio technologies to augment bandwidth and coverage while containing costs. Fluidmesh trackside radio is a complementary technology to LTE-based communications as it provides redundancy, additional bandwidth when aggregated with LTE, and coverage in tunnels and other areas where mobile network operators do not fully cover.
LILEE Systems’ onboard gateway serves as the central communications hub for all operational and passenger services that require high throughput connectivity, compute, and storage. The LILEE platform functions as the communications gatekeeper, determining what communication link or links to connect based on the operational goals and priorities of the railway. Communication can be provided by the radio trackside network, LTE, or a combination of both. It can also be provided by Wi-Fi networks, when available, at train stations and yards.
Each additional radio technology places huge operational burden on operators. LILEE provides a plug-and-play architecture that isolates the underlying technological difference and abstracts operational and quality parameters to power the connectivity algorithms that dynamically manage user and application traffic flows. This abstraction powers LILEE Systems’ open connectivity platform to seamlessly integrate LTE, Wi-Fi, wired and trackside radio technologies, and dynamically balance the traffic across all the links based on user defined policies.
The integration between LILEE Systems and Fluidmesh allows for a seamless switching between communication networks making it transparent for end-user applications that are sensitive to network latency. This is very relevant for passengers that rely on the onboard Wi-Fi network to have uninterrupted VoIP calls or video conferences, for example.
Our code level integration with Fluidmesh Networks solutions enables us to bring handover time between Fluidmesh and other technologies down by a factor of 50. Our connectivity algorithms demonstrate better handover times in various partner testing and this new enhancement puts us well ahead of our competition.—Sam Kanakamedala, Director of Product Management at LILEE Systems
A combination of trackside radio and LTE provides flexibility to railways that need to balance the capital expense of acquiring radio network infrastructure and the operating cost of LTE. It also allows railways to replace and upgrade communications infrastructure with minimum to no impact to the passengers and the communities that they serve.