ETRI to deploy gigabit Wi-Fi hot spots on Seoul trains

seoul subway
Image credit: yanatul /

South Korea’s Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) says it will launch a pilot project this year in which it will commercially deploy its ultra-fast mobile hot-spot network (MHN) technology on Seoul’s subway lines.

The technology is able to provide ultra-fast internet Wi-Fi connectivity in high-speed trains with data speeds reaching 1.25 Gbps. The backhaul network transmits data using millimeter waves above 20 GHz, which ETRI says enables data transmission 100 times faster than existing WiBro (a.k.a. WiMax) backhaul networks. The backhaul networks link receivers on the trains with the public Internet via radio towers along the tracks.

Another key technology is fast handover that seamlessly transfers data transmission from one base station to another with no delay or disconnection.

“The MHN technology can provide high-speed Wi-Fi services even in a fast running subway train, just like home Wi-Fi,” said Hyun Kyu Chung, the president of ETRI’s 5G Giga Service Research Laboratory. “Our technology will provide the world’s first commercial service using millimeter waves as a moving wireless backhaul for subways.”

ETRI demonstrated MHN data speeds up to 500 Mbps in 2016, and then up to 1.25 Gbps last year. The technology could enable a maximum of 550 users to watch a video simultaneously through Wi-Fi in a running subway train.

As data-hungry apps such as virtual reality and augmented reality emerge in the near future, ETRI says the MHN technology is likely to be needed in public spaces. ETRI also says it believes the technology could eventually be incorporated into 5G standards.

ETRI is currently collaborating with other institutes to develop an enhanced mobile hot-spot network (MHN-E) to boost speeds as high as 10 Gbps. ETRI also plans to demonstrate various 5G services based on MHN-E on buses during the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

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