Vodafone & Deutsche Bahn close rail dead spots

  • April 20, 2022
  • William Payne

Vodafone and Germany’s national rail operator Deutsche Bahn are working together to close the remaining gaps in the Vodafone mobile network on rail routes throughout Germany. Both companies have agreed on an infrastructure partnership, and Vodafone will be the first mobile operator to activate its 5G+ network on Germany’s ICE routes by 2025. In addition to high bandwidths, rail passengers will also benefit from extremely short response times for the first time.

Under the agreement, Vodafone will provide particularly heavily frequented routes with a seamless LTE mobile network with high bandwidths by 2025. Dropped calls will become a thing of the past and mobile web surfing will work faster and without interruptions.

DB sees improved mobile phone reception as a precondition for more people in Germany taking the train. This will also benefit the climate as greater comfort on board trains will drive the mobility turnaround, increasing train use and contributing to climate protection.

The joint expansion plan by Vodafone and Deutsche Bahn provides that Vodafone will provide the 7,800 kilometres of main traffic routes on which ICE and IC travel with bandwidths of at least 225 megabits per second in the LTE network by mid-2025. Vodafone will ensure a seamless LTE network with bandwidths of at least 125 megabits per second on 13,800 kilometres of passenger-heavy routes with more than 2000 passengers a day by summer 2025.

Vodafone will set up 160 additional cellphone stations and carry out around 1,000 modernisation measures. In addition, Vodafone is pushing ahead with the expansion of mobile communications along the secondary routes in order to achieve almost universal mobile communications coverage here by 2024. Deutsche Bahn will make areas and fibre optic infrastructure available along the rails to an even greater extent than before and offer services related to planning, approval and construction processes. DB is constantly working on technical innovations such as window panes that allow mobile communications to direct mobile communications signals even better into the interior of the trains.

Vodafone will become the first mobile communications provider in Germany to activate the new 5G+ network throughout Germany by 2025 and will also supply the 7,800 kilometres of main DB routes extensively. 5G+ will reach rail passengers via the 1,800 megahertz frequencies without the DB trains having to be technically upgraded.

Dr Daniela Gerd tom Markotten, Board Member for Digitisation and Technology at Deutsche Bahn AG, said: “Sending e-mails, streaming films, phoning family – a stable mobile network is essential for our passengers. The fact that we are closing the last dead spots in the Vodafone network is great news for our mutual customers. We are thus taking big steps towards our goal: all mobile phone networks must be available everywhere without gaps. Our customers should feel at home on the train or in their home office.”

Hannes Ametsreiter, Vodafone Germany CEO, said: “Nine out of ten rail passengers use the mobile Internet or make calls on their smartphone when they are on the move – and they are still far too often annoyed by annoying dead spots. Together with Deutsche Bahn, we are now finally finding a remedy and eliminating one of the biggest annoyances for many millions of commuters and travellers. We start the project ‘Future Train’. With the highest bandwidths, lightning-fast response times and clear goals: we are building a seamless mobile phone network for all rail passengers and the most modern 5G network in Europe for Germany’s fastest trains.”

Dr Volker Wissing, Germany’s Federal Minister for Digital Affairs and Transport, said: “We want to consistently digitise our trains. People should have state-of-the-art rail mobility options that enable them to work and communicate digitally. With today’s step we are making progress on the way to a fast and seamless network in the train. I very much welcome this initiative. It brings us progress and makes the railway even more attractive.”