Vodacom recently switched on 2G, 3G, and LTE coverage in the Gautrain’s underground stations at Rosebank, Sandton, and Park.
To provide underground coverage at these stations, Vodacom used distributed antenna systems located throughout the three stations.
Each of these systems is connected via fibre-optic cable to network equipment located in Rosebank.
This network means that users waiting for a train can now make and receive calls, and use the Internet. However, when they leave the station they will lose connectivity.
Good news is that underground station coverage is only the first phase for Vodacom. The proposed second and third stages of the project will see in-tunnel coverage and in-train coverage.
The three stages of Vodacom’s proposed Gautrain Rapid Rail Link cellular roll-out are as follows:
- Phase 1 – provide cellular coverage throughout the three underground stations, Park, Rosebank, and Sandton.
- Phase 2 – provide cellular coverage while travelling in the 15km of underground tunnels between Park, Rosebank, Sandton, and Marlboro Station.
- Phase 3 – provide improved cellular coverage inside the train with an on-board repeater.
An on-board repeater in the Gautrain will improve coverage and quality while in tunnels and above ground by amplifying the received signal inside the train.
Gautrain tunnel coverage
To achieve coverage inside the underground Gautrain tunnels, radiating cables which are installed inside the tunnels will be used.
If only this solution is used, a high number of remote units and high power levels will be needed because of signal losses while penetrating the train.
However, using directional antennas in the train and an on-board repeater system, the signal will not suffer the same losses. In this case less remote units and lower power levels are needed.
The diagram below shows Vodacom’s Gautrain tunnel coverage design concept.
How the on-board repeater system will work
The on-board repeater system will involve installing two donor antennas on top of a Gautrain carriage.
Directional antennas will then be installed in electrical cupboards inside the coach.
The images below provide an overview of how Vodacom will provide in-train coverage for the Gautrain.