Strategies for 4G/LTE Deployment in Underground Metros: an Innovative Source of Revenues
Dr. Cédric LÉVY-BENCHETON, Egis, Christian GROBOST, Egis, Claire GUIOMAR, Egis / Centrale Lyon
4G/LTE is a new radio communication standard which will replace present generation networks. Public radio operators are exploring the deployment of 4G/LTE in underground metro to offer an unlimited connectivity to their customers: this is a chance for transport authorities to monetize their infrastructure. However, such deployment faces multiple challenges with respect to the legislation and regulation, the confined space of the premises, technical requirements, health & safety concerns, and political and economic constraints. Based on these constraints, we propose several strategies to deploy 4G/LTE in existing and newly constructed underground metros so that public radio operators and transport authorities can benefit from an innovative source of revenues.
4G/LTE is a new radio communication standard which will replace current technologies. It brings high bandwidth and new services to transport operators and passengers: high speed Internet, real-time CCTV, live passenger information, geopositioning... Hence, there is no doubt that several new applications will benefit from the deployment of 4G/LTE in the near future.
However, mobile communication is currently unavailable in underground metros, except in a few cities, with a public 4G/LTE networks already available outdoor in some places. The next step for radio operators is to provide an unlimited connectivity to their customers by deploying 4G/LTE in underground. We think that 4G/LTE is a chance for transport authorities to monetize their infrastructure and lead more people to travel with the metro.
In this paper, we examine how 4G/LTE deployment may constitute an innovative source of revenues to the transport authorities. In order to enable 4G/LTE deployment, radio operators and transport authorities have to agree on a business model which shall present advantages to both parties. This first step proves to be very difficult, due to the challenges tied to the implementation and operation of 4G/LTE in the premises of an underground metro. Hence, we need to explore several strategies to find the most adapted business model before installing a public radio system in this context.
The first part of the final paper will present the constraints leading the deployment of 4G/LTE in a confined space. It focuses on the key differences between a newly constructed metro and an existing one, with the goal to optimize the investment costs (CAPEX). The following points are key parameters in selecting the most adapted solution:
• Legislation and Regulation provide insights to optimize the deployment of 4G/LTE network in regard of broadcast regulations and the issue of responsibilities.
• Infrastructure constraints, which can arise before, during and after 4G/LTE deployment, in particular regarding the civil work.
• Technical requirements, where three main subjects shall be taken into account:
o Network Access, which connects the station to the outside world;
o Active Components, which manage the LTE network and require network access;
o Passive Components, which allow users to connect to the LTE network, It comprises antennas and cables installed in tunnels and stations and connected to active components.
• Health & Safety concerns related to radio waves and the reduced exposure provided by 4G/LTE.
• Political and economic constraints, where several limits may slow 4G/LTE adoption: CAPEX/OPEX, responsibilities, property rights…
In a second part, we assess the best business model to invest in a 4G/LTE system for existing and newly constructed underground metros based on the constraints presented before. We explain how CAPEX and OPEX can be optimized, and how transport authorities can access an innovative source of revenues by relying on radio access network-sharing (RAN-Sharing). However, the best technical solution is not necessarily the most suitable: we present the main reasons why cooperation with and between public radio operators is highly difficult in an underground tunnel. We explore the advantages and drawbacks of a joint-venture between a transport operator and a telecom operator, which must guarantee cost reductions and fair competition to all operators.
In a third part, we study the case of a newly constructed metro and discuss how public operators can weigh in the balance to push 4G/LTE deployment forward. The final paper will provide some details on the latest developments of the Riyadh Metro (6 lines with opened and underground sections), where public radio operators and the transport authority have already started to discuss on the deployment of 4G/LTE in the metro premises.
In conclusion, 4G/LTE can represent an innovative source of revenues for transport authorities. However, they shall develop innovative strategies as soon as today, due to the several constraints arising before, during and after the deployment of 4G/LTE in underground metros.
Association for European Transport