SK Telecom and Samsung launch LTE-R for Busan Metro line 1

busan metro line 1
Image credit: LERK, CC BY 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons

SK Telecom, Samsung Electronics and Busan Transportation Corporation (BTS) have launched South Korea’s first commercially operational LTE-Railway (LTE-R) network for the 41-km Busan Metro line 1 covering 40 stations in the region.

BTS, SK Telecom and Samsung collaborated to replace the existing analog wireless technology used for mission-critical railway operations with the new LTE-R solution. They have been testing the new communication systems since February for final safety checkup. The test drive included an interoperability test between onboard equipment on the metro and LTE-R mobile devices installed on the railway and trains.

LTE-R has been developed for the next-generation of mission-critical communication essential for railway operation and maintenance. LTE-R offers a number of advantages over incumbent analog or 2G GSM based technologies. For example, rather than one-to-one voice call services between the control center, station employees, and train engineers, LTE-R enables media-based group call/SMS services.

LTE-R also offers new capabilities like stable multimedia services. In a statement, Samsung said the technology better equips rail operators in case of an accident because it transmits real-time video of the station to the central control center.

“Reliability and stability are critical because they are directly tied to public safety,” said Jinsoo Jeong, senior VP and head of Domestic Business Marketing in Networks Business at Samsung.

Il-gyu Choi, senior VP and head of SK Telecom’s Public Business Office, said the multimedia-capable LTE railway network makes operations procedures “more intuitive and efficient.”

Samsung has been a key supplier for all five LTE-R projects in Korea since 2015. The Busan Metro project marks the first commercialization of LTE-R in Korea, while the Wonju-Gangneung project is billed as the world’s first LTE-R network for high-speed trains. The Korean government plans to increase the distance that the LTE-R project covers to roughly 5,600 km by 2025.

In January 2016, Samsung was selected as an end-to-end solution provider for the Korean government’s public safety LTE (PS-LTE) project, which includes virtualized core solutions, radio access systems and rugged-smartphones. Samsung also actively participates in interoperability tests to ensure seamless operation between analog technologies such as TRS-ASTRO, TRS-TETRA, VHF and LTE-R, as well as PS-LTE.

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