Telecommunications is one of the hidden technologies on our railways. Everyone expects telephones to work, CCTV cameras to feed back to control centres, and passenger information systems to provide the latest updates to the travelling public.
These systems all run on the Fixed Telecommunications Network (FTN), a grid that Network Rail started building around ten years ago. This involved
the construction of a completely new network of fibre optic and copper cables alongside railway tracks around the country. Some 16,000km would be laid with a total project value of just under £10 billion.
The initial aim of the new network was to run the new national GSM-R radio system and to transfer data using an SDH (synchronous digital hierarchy) protocol.
However, new uses for the network became apparent as technology improved. An upgrade to the FTN – called FTNx – was introduced before FTN was even completed. This allows a huge assortment of equipment to be inter- connected using IP (internet protocol) – essentially the same technology that connects your webcam and network printer to your PC.
It’s a complex subject, but one which will affect everyone on the railways over the coming years.
O2 has been helping build this technology with Network Rail, enabling the IP facility on the network. To explain this new technology, Network Rail Telecom will be hosting the O2’s ‘Battle Bus’ at Milton Keynes on 1 September.
The ‘Battle Bus’ will park directly outside the Network Rail main reception at The Quadrant:MK, and everyone who is interested is invited to come along and have a look. Experts from O2 and Network Rail will be on hand to explain what IP is and what it will do, as well as the complexities of FTNx and future plans for the new network.
In addition, O2 will be discussing a number of innovations including Telefónica Dynamic Insights and how Big Data is at the centre of business transformation. There will also be a showcase of the new mobile CCTV platform which is optimized for mobile networks, delivering a truly flexible approach to asset protection.