During the 5G license auction, mobile operators in the Czech Republic committed to cover 90 percent of the population and at least 70 percent of the territory of each district with a 5G signal by the end of 2028. The conditions even include coverage of railway corridors. There is already a signal on those; although somewhere minimal and insufficient for use on the train.
Even in the corridor, people from the train do not call each other. But the operators and the state have a new plan
The construction of two hundred completely new masts is intended to strengthen the signal of the 5G network in the main corridors. 350 million crowns are set aside for this in the National Recovery Plan.
“The Railway Administration will build the masts right next to the tracks. It is a hundred masts. The construction also involves bringing in the necessary internet connectivity and electrical connection to the masts. A specific example is signal coverage in tunnels, where the Railway Administration must create the necessary specifications and prepare structures for the installation of radiating cables,” explained the spokesperson of the Railway Administration, Dušan Gavenda. Then, as part of the framework agreement being prepared, operators will also be able to use the infrastructure of the Railway Administration for an agreed amount. According to the spokesperson, the agreement is being worked on.
The operators will take care of the second half of the construction of the new towers. “These are masts outside the corridors. Sometimes it is more economical to build one mast on a hill, from where it is possible to cover the arc of the runway as well as the surrounding area. than to build three at the track. It wouldn’t even make economic sense,” points out Jiří Grund, president of the Association of Mobile Network Operators (APMS). The equipment of the masts with the necessary equipment will be entirely under the direction of the mobile operators.
The mobile signal will be concentrated primarily on the corridors Prague – Česká Třebová – Olomouc and Česká Třebová – Brno. There is no money yet for additional coverage. “Even so, roughly half will be covered, which is not bad at all,” Grund points out.
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Densifying the coverage alone will certainly not bring the desired effect and stability of the Internet connection. “A railway carriage behaves like a Faraday cage. Even if the line was well covered, it would still be difficult to make a call,” explains Hana Továrková, chairwoman of the Council of the Czech Telecommunications Authority.
So-called repeaters help to get the signal to the wagons. Carriers will also be able to apply for subsidies from the National Recovery Plan for their acquisition. 350 million crowns have been prepared here, which should be enough to equip three hundred railway cars with this technology.
So far, carriers are solving the poor quality of the signal inside the trains by setting up an on-board Wi-Fi network. “For the start of the 2022 timetable, i.e. in December 2021, 2,248 Czech Railways trains were marked with a sign announcing Wi-Fi services, of which almost five hundred were long-distance trains, the other connections are regional,” says Czech Railways spokesman Petr Šťáhlavský. Competing (and smaller) carrier RegioJet offers internet coverage on all its trains. “We have our own technological solution, where we bundle the signal from several mobile operators, which makes data reception more robust,” adds RegioJet spokesperson Aleš Ondrůj.
A race against time
Whether it will be possible to cover the railway corridors with a stronger mobile signal is so-called in the hands of the Ministry of Industry and Trade. They must be able to issue the subsidy call on time. Ideal during the autumn months. If this does not happen, there is a risk that no one will sign up for the challenge.
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The reason is simple: projects financed from the National Recovery Plan, i.e. from European subsidies, must be implemented by 2025. which is unbelievably overburdened with bureaucracy. So it takes at least two years of clear time to get permits, necessary stamps, and the like. And none of the operators will invest in the construction of something that will not be reimbursed by the EU afterwards,” warns Grund.
Source: DiaryThe Ministry did not respond to Deník’s question as to whether it plans to issue a call so that the operators have enough time. A public consultation is ongoing until September 11. This is to check whether investment in 5G mobile networks supported by public funds will not disrupt competition on the electronic communications market in the Czech Republic or whether it will endanger state or private investment in activities related to the operation and development of railway services. Likewise, the European Commission should approve the project within a few weeks.