Mobile & Wireless Photos: How Dubai's driverless trains get their wi-fi

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By Natasha Lomas   www.networks.silicon.com

The Dubai Municipality is in the process of constructing the Middle East’s first fully automated, driverless metro system. Once completed the Metro will have 47 stations served by 87 trains, and is eventually projected to carry some 355 million passengers per year.

Not content with a full fleet of robotic trains, the Dubai metro will also boast blanket wi-fi connectivity on all trains and stations.

An information notice on the Dubai Metro informing passengers of the wi-fi network
(Photo credit: philcampbell via Flickr.com under the following Creative Commons Licence)

The first phase of the project went live back in September with a rollout which included 10 stations, using a wi-fi system provided by UK-based company Nomad Digital. But how does the system work and what kind of kit is involved?

Trackside wireless base stations and WiMax radios are located at regular intervals along the route to create a corridor of wireless coverage through which the trains travel.  A Nomad Digital employee is pictured above installing equipment at one of the Metro stations.  Photo credit: Nomad Digital
Trackside wireless base stations and WiMax radios are located at regular intervals along the route to create a corridor of wireless coverage through which the trains travel. A Nomad Digital employee is pictured above installing equipment at one of the Metro stations. Photo credit: Nomad Digital
Every train is also fitted with Nomad Digital's ruggedised R3500 broadband gateway, pictured above.  The gateway can use a range of WAN backhaul networks, including 3G, HSDPA/HSUPA, Edge, CDMA-2000, EV-DO, UTMS W-CDMA and WiMax. In Dubai, the system uses mobile WiMax and HSPA as backhaul for the wi-fi service.  Photo credit: Nomad Digital
Every train is also fitted with Nomad Digital's ruggedised R3500 broadband gateway, pictured above. The gateway can use a range of WAN backhaul networks, including 3G, HSDPA/HSUPA, Edge, CDMA-2000, EV-DO, UTMS W-CDMA and WiMax. In Dubai, the system uses mobile WiMax and HSPA as backhaul for the wi-fi service. Photo credit: Nomad Digital
The company also installed this GPS/Ethernet switch (pictured above) on each train, which can convert the system's GPS signal to IP data for connection to on-board applications such as passenger information systems.  Photo credit: Nomad Digital
The company also installed this GPS/Ethernet switch (pictured above) on each train, which can convert the system's GPS signal to IP data for connection to on-board applications such as passenger information systems. Photo credit: Nomad Digital