As a world leader in connectivity and sensors, TE Connectivity (TE) is ready to bring next-generation 5G mobile communications technology to the rail industry to help transform passenger experiences.

TE has been supplying onboard antennas that are now ready for 5G. The TE antennas can be mounted outside on vehicle rooftops or on inside ceilings. The antennas, which are to be introduced globally, will have huge implications for the quality and speed of data communications.

With the new 5G technology, data transmission will be up to 100 times quicker than with LTE, reaching wireless data transmission speeds of up to 20 Gbit/s.

Operators will first be required to invest in new onboard communications equipment.

Following this, the technology will offer rail operators the ability to provide their passengers with high-quality real-time travel information, as well as interruption-free Wi-Fi that can handle even the most demanding video applications.

New wideband MiMo rooftop antennas have been designed by TE specifically for use in 5G-enabled communications on overground and underground trains, as well as metros, trams and buses.

Other versions incorporate one or two antenna elements for MiMo operation, offering very large frequency responses ranging from 698MHz to 6000MHz. The antennas are also suitable for legacy communications (2G / 3G / 4G), Wi-Fi, WiMax and GNSS (including GSMR).

The new antennas meet the EN 45545-2 standard, which covers fire performance of materials and components for trains, as well as EN 50155, which covers various aspects of electronic equipment used in railway rolling stock.

They also conform to IP69, relating to protection against dust and water. This means that they can resist even high-pressure water jets.

DC-grounded antenna elements in the rooftop antennas provide voltage protection in case of catenary line drop up to 40kA, 100ms. Meanwhile, an internal ground plate allows the antenna to be mounted on non-conductive surfaces.

The ceiling-mountable circular onboard Wi-Fi antenna provides up to 4×4 MiMo Wi-Fi coverage. With a frequency response range from 2.4 to 2.5GHz and 4.9 to 6GHz, the antenna is ready for the IEEE 802.11ax standard, which is expected to be fully deployed later this year.

It offers data at a speed at least four times higher than earlier antennas in congested environments, as well as 40% higher peak data rates. The antennas have a low profile of just 30mm and are supplied with flame retardant CS23 coax cables (EN45545 compliant) and white radome. As with the other antennas, these models can be mounted onto non-conductive surface.