Mon, Oct 02, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Tunnels impede progress on railway Wi-Fi and 4G

NO SIGNAL:The newer infrastructure of the high-speed railway system has made it easier to install the required cables, while TRA passengers must wait longer

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

The government might face difficulties making Wi-Fi and fourth-generation (4G) telecom service available along most railway routes by the end of this year, because of slow progress in improving signal reception in some tunnels in the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) system, a source said yesterday.

Railway passengers have complained about the poor mobile phone reception and slow Internet processing speeds that occurs when trains pass through the tunnels.

Prior to the Taipei Summer Universiade in August, TV variety show host Jacky Wu (吳宗憲) said that although the high-speed rail system has been around for a decade, the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC) seems to spend more money on TV promotion slots than on Wi-Fi equipment.

Wu’s complaint drew attention from government officials, who worked on improving the 4G reception and Wi-Fi service. Before the Universiade, high-speed rail passengers could access both services without much difficulty as trains passed through 12 high-speed rail stations along the route as well as in the section north of Hsinchu Station

High-speed rail passengers would have access to both the 4G and Wi-Fi services in the sections south of Hsinchu Station before the end of this year, National Communications Commission (NCC) Chairwoman Nicole Chan (詹婷怡) said in a question-and-answer session at the legislature’s Transportation Committee meeting on Thursday last week.

Both 4G and Wi-Fi services would become available in the tunnels along the TRA’s north-link line and the Hualien-Taitung line by the end of this year, she added.

However, travelers on the south-link line are to have access to 4G or Wi-Fi service as the trains pass through tunnels when the railway line is electrified, she said.

However, a source involved in the project said Chan lacked a thorough understanding of the progress achieved.

The high-speed rail system began operations 10 years ago and has a newer infrastructure than the TRA system, the official said, adding that installing cables inside tunnels along the high-speed rail route is easier because the tunnels were constructed with cable ducts.

The THSRC and Bureau of High Speed Rail have been coordinating with National Communications Commission officials on the project since January, the official said.

The THSRC has also been allowing telecom carriers to lease the ducts for free, which has facilitated the project’s progress.

“Unlike the THSRC’s tunnels, the ones in the TRA system have been around for more than two decades, and the walls inside the tunnels could be so weathered that they barely hold the cable,” the official said.

“TRA has many agencies in charge of facilities inside the tunnel. It does not have a single point of contact when it comes to coordination of the project. In addition, telecom carriers are less willing to install facilities inside the tunnels because the railway operator is not letting them use the ducts for free,” the official added.

The TRA was asked this week to establish a single point of contact to work with other agencies to speed up the process, the official said, adding that they would still try to finish the work by the end of this year, despite the difficulties.

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