The 2nd UIC GSM-R World Conference opened today at UIC Paris headquarters. The first edition was held in September 2013 and interest in the GSM-R system is always strong, as the figures of the conference clearly show: around 200 participants, from 92 different companies/organisations, and 12 exhibitors present today: Huawei, as a platinum sponsor, Funkwerk, Kapsch, Nokia, Triorail as other sponsors; Comtest Wireless, Expandium, Frequentis, Iskratel, Polomarconi.it, Siemens, Sierra Wireless and ZTE as exhibitors.
The “Opening” Session had four speakers linked to four main organisations involved in the GSM-R history.
Mr Marc Antoni, Director of the UIC Rail System Department on behalf of Mr Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, UIC Director-General, said: “GSM-R has quite a long past, and surely a long future. It was in the second half of 1990s of last century that the UIC radio frequency group negotiated with the European Frequency Committee (CEPT) for the allocation of a frequencies band specifically to railways. The final decision was to adopt GSM, as one of the main objectives was to use a system which was already proven and where off-the-shelf products were available, with the least modification. In 1992 UIC started the project EIRENE (European Integrated Radio Enhanced Network), in collaboration with the European Commission, to define the set of additional railway features necessary for an efficient railway service.
After nearly 20 years from the publication of the first version of the EIRENE document sets, we can state that we have reached that target: GSM-R is THE railway TLC system, mandated in Europe by the TSI but notably used worldwide with no EU legal obligations. It is de facto a well established worldwide industrial standard with one system, one technology, one frequency band, and an efficient interoperability between different countries.
Since the beginning of the GSM-R story, UIC has collaborated with the European institutions and that collaboration continues nowadays, especially with the European Railway Agency, ETSI and CEPT/ECC.
Nevertheless, nothing is perfect and GSM-R has got some problems too, one above all: the interferences from public networks that are becoming an increasingly serious problem with the introduction of the new spread spectrum technologies (3G / 4G…).
Moreover, it’s important to provide due evidence of the evolution of the phenomenon, so UIC decided to enhance its database of GSM-R interferences with a version published online, that will give the possibility not only to check the ultimate status but (restricted to identified people) also to directly introduce new cases, being guided by a simple and user-friendly common interface. You are all invited to check the first online application at the UIC booth, just at the exit of the conference room.
As any other TLC system GSM-R will have an end, sooner or later. We are still far from that time but nevertheless we know that a lot of time is necessary to define the successor of GSM-R and duly lead its future integration then substitution with a new system. This is a new exciting UIC project that we call: FRMCS (Future Railways Mobile Communication System), you will hear about it at the following session.”
Ms Isabelle Vandoorne, representing the European Commission, highlighted the advantages of the GSM-R system, the railway telecoms of the future in the European regulation system. It can cover a lot of railway needs and has evolved a lot. A group was created at the European level to solve the interferences issues, but there is a need for national support and international cooperation too. Coexistence is essential of course, but affordability is important too, with the best technical solutions. Indeed, application should be separated from technology.
GSM-R will continue so industrial experts need to contribute more and more and to go on looking for better solutions. UIC needs the contribution of all to reach the universal proposal needed.
Ms Schreiber, CEO of Funkwerk representing GSMR-IG, then declared that the next step was to complete the implementation of the IP (Internet Protocol) technology – the migration (from GSM-R to IP) issue is essential. Industry representatives must develop solutions and ensure maximum security of investment. The GSM-R group has agreed define standards before 2018: there is a need to simplify the certification process and stability of prices. Even if it will be long, the industrial representatives support any initiatives to accelerate this. This is why this conference is the best opportunity to discuss now the solutions.
Mr Jörgen Friis, Chief Service Officer (CSO) at ETSI, said that GSM-R standards are a cluster for transportation, and also for other modes of transports. ETSI conducts a wide range of activities and produces 2000 deliverables every year. Its members develop an updated standard every hour and they also draft specifications with non members, and support policies of the EU. This year, the Second edition of the UIC World GSM-R conference is endorsed by ETSI.