Vodafone extends 5G coverage on Spanish trains

  • July 18, 2023
  • Steve Rogerson

A joint venture between Vodafone and Spanish industrial group Semi is bringing 5G connectivity to two high-speed train routes.

Spanish rail operator ADIF has awarded the venture a five-year, €25.5m contract to enhance the routes from Albacete to Alicante and Barcelona to Figueras with reliable 5G coverage.

This initiative is part of the European Union’s Recovery & Resilience Facility (RRF). 

The RRF is a crucial component of the EU’s plan to address the economic and social effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. It provides funding to support countries in implementing reforms and investments, which will aid in the creation of sustainable and resilient economies and societies that can adapt to digital and green transitions.

Spain’s investment plan aims to speed up the shift towards a sustainable and low-carbon economy while reaping the rewards of digital transformation. The project also focuses on enhancing connectivity, improving the labour market, increasing innovation, and making public spending more effective and sustainable.

“The deployment of our 5G network in Spain’s high-speed infrastructures is another step in our strategy to digitise the regions in which we operate,” said Julia Velasco, director of network for Vodafone in Spain. “Our technology will facilitate advanced logistics services and more efficient freight and passenger traffic management, favouring the ecological transition towards more sustainable transport.”

The Spanish Ministry of Transport’s public company ADIF has received funding from the RRF to establish a smart railway system suitable for the current competitive and sustainable technological landscape.

The contract won by Vodafone and Semi aims to assist ADIF in offering equal access to infrastructure, creating a modern railway system that incorporates the latest technology such as 5G, is cost-effective and is environmentally friendly.

The collaboration requires designing, constructing, installing and sustaining 5G infrastructures along these high-speed routes at 700 and 800MHz frequencies.

Semi is responsible for the engineering and construction of the infrastructure, and Vodafone will use Ericsson technology to implement the 5G network.

Governments worldwide face mounting demands to enhance public transportation safety, efficiency and affordability. The answer lies in embracing technology to digitise travel, which can offer better visibility of transport services to providers, resulting in improved customer experiences.

In October 2022, Vodafone announced its technology was being used for self-driving trains on a 30km route from Bergedorf and Aumühle to Berliner Tor in Hamburg, Germany, relying on 4G network slicing. It has been testing the same capabilities using 5G technology too.

“We aim to help improve our railways, making train travel more appealing and contributing to society’s sustainability goals,” said a Vodafone statement. “We run Europe’s most extensive 5G network, constantly enhancing 5G coverage and services. The newest and swiftest mobile network generation is 5G. It will enhance performance on smartphones and smart devices by eliminating lag and patchy connections and providing speedy, dependable downloads while on the go, such as travelling on a high-speed train.”

The advancement of 5G technology should facilitate the expansion of IoT devices, allowing millions of devices to connect and share data through a single, high-speed network.

“The digital future will be powered by 5G, and it will assist in constructing digital societies that are inclusive and sustainable across the globe,” said the statement.