It may be a term even seasoned professionals in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) space may not be familiar with, but the “Critical Communications Market” is, in a word, critical. It involves providing next generation communications in areas such as transportation, utilities and government, where accessibility and reliability are table stakes, and where in the wireless area in many if not most instances there is dedicated spectrum.
There is news of note in this area. Huawei, which has expertise in GSM-R technology used by railroads for real-time interactions between trains on the move and their control centers, and Siemens Convergence Creators (Siemens CVC), whose labs are doing cutting edge research on the future of high-performance broadband networks, jointly announced a strategic cooperation for the development of end-to-end solutions for the critical communications market.
Huawei is bringing to the collaboration its GSM-R expertise, particularly in mature radio network for rail operational voice and ETCS/ERTMS train control communication, enterprise LTE (eLTE) solutions, broadband data, and voice trunking radio networks. Siemens CVC has deep expertise in delivering large scale transport projects and is looking for the joint effort to enhance existing GSM-R applications and enable smooth migration to Huawei’s eLTE command and control modules.
As the announcement of the agreement to collaborate explains, “With this partnership, both companies are committed to complement each other's strengths to develop a joint solution that leverages eLTE opportunities in the market.”
The partners have wasted little time in getting going. Cooperation has already begun with an agreement to operate a GSM-R laboratory in Croatia. The existing Siemens CVC lab in Croatia will be equipped with the latest Huawei technologies and will serve as a testbed for integration testing for GSM-R, IT and railway-specific products, close-circuit television applications, and VAS (Value Added Service) end-to-end solutions like command and control modules in typical multivendor scenarios. The goal is to enable customized GSM-R and eLTE solutions to be tested and refined to the highest operational safety and efficiency before deployment.
"We are excited to see that our cooperation with Siemens CVC will help our customers benefit from a direct and easy access to a GSM-R laboratory in Croatia, where customized end-to-end solutions can be integrated seamlessly in a safe and professional operations environment," said Mr. David Xu, Vice President of Wireless Products of Huawei Enterprise.
"The GSM-R laboratory in Croatia allows Siemens CVC to dramatically improve delivery time frames for unique, customized solutions. We are looking forward to demonstrate to our customers that with direct access to this laboratory, smart railway projects can be delivered safely and flexibly within a short time frame," said Mr. Bernard Payer, Senior Vice President, Infrastructure and Security of Siemens CVC.
Image via Shutterstock
It was also revealed as part of the agreement that a key joint project includes the pre-integration testing of a major GSM-R project, totaling 1,200 km, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The railway network will connect urban and industrial regions in the UAE, opening new links between Saudi Arabia and Oman. Both Siemens and Huawei hope that, with the success of the UAE project, other customers in the critical communications market and future railway projects around the world will achieve successful deployment through leveraging the advanced technologies offered in the GSM-R laboratory in Croatia.
While such cooperation tends to be rare, given the complementary capabilities of the two partners in virtually all aspects of railway operations and communications, this seems like a natural pairing. There is certainly plenty of global interest in ultimately moving from GSM-R to next generation capabilities and based on the size and scope of enhancing GSM-R and assuring a smooth mitigation path to 4G and beyond is a task tailor made for major ICT vendors based on the complexities involved not just in deploying the communications but involving all of the integrations and logistics that are part of such projects.
After all, public safety communications are about as critical as it gets. Assuring the efficient and safe operations of the rails, air transport and utility networks need to be able to rest on a foundation of next generation communications. One thing is certain, the UAE project is going to be closely watched as the addressable market for critical communications upgrades going forward is substantial to say the least.
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