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Delhi Metro plans hi-speed Wi-Fi on trains, but bumps ahead

While three of Delhi Metro’s busy corridors provide free Wi-Fi facility at all stations, commuters are also likely to use free high-speed internet connectivity on-board trains across the network by next year. There are, however, a few roadblocks before the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) can implement the plan.

DMRC’s managing director Mangu Singh had launched a free Wi-Fi facility for commuters travelling on-board the high-speed trains of the Airport Express Line in January last year. There were plans to provide the same facility in all the trains and stations across the network. The facility was provided at the Blue Line (Dwarka-Vaishali Noida Electronic City) stations and recently, at the Yellow Line (Samaypur Badli-HUDA City Centre) stations.

“It’s a very difficult work. The working hours are limited to night and to three hours,” Singh told TOI, adding that there are many constraints in installing ‘access points’ across the huge network and hundreds of trains. Singh said that according to the contract with the operator, the work has to be completed in a year and he hopes the facility is provided within that time.

“It is a very tricky situation. The infrastructure required for this, particularly in the underground section, requires huge expenditure. Whether the operator (telecom service provider) is willing to pay for that or not, sometimes becomes a problem,” Singh said. “On the Airport Express Line, we are not able to take on board all the operators. All are not willing to pay for the infrastructure,” he said.

A DMRC official said that as part of an arrangement, the corporation provides space and basic infrastructure like optical fiber, power cables, etc., and the rest of the infrastructure has to be installed by telecom service providers.

Wi-Fi services were first made available at the six stations of the Airport Express Line in 2016, followed by all the Blue Line stations in 2017 and recently at the Yellow Line stations.

The mechanism through which commuters can access Wi-Fi at speed of 300 Mbps on-board moving trains at the Airport Express Line is based on a two-level network. Firstly, it is a train-to-tunnel radio network, which passes signals from base stations inside a tunnel to portable base stations inside head cars. Secondly, the inner-train network that transmits signals from the wireless access points in each car to users’ devices.

The official said that Wi-Fi services at the Line were provided by a consortium and the infrastructure included 24 km of fiber, 7 km of power cable with 44 base stations and other active components along the entire length of the corridor to ensure that trains never lose Wi-Fi connectivity. Every train is equipped with radios to connect to the trackside network and every car in the train has wireless access points for passengers to connect. TNN

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