New Delhi: With 5 MHZ spectrum worth about Rs 30,000 crore in its kitty, the cash-strapped national transporter, Indian Railways, amid opposition from private sector, has finally won the battle over spectrum after prolonged negotiations.
Newsclick had reported in August 20, 2019 that Railways is likely to get free spectrum for signal upgradation.
Had it not come for free, it would have been tough for the public behemoth to acquire spectrum on payment basis, as the Railways is currently reeling under severe financial strain with expenditure exceeding from its earnings.
While passenger earnings are not showing any considerable increase, freight earnings are on the downslide owing to the economic slowdown.
Indian Railways is going ahead to utilise the spectrum for getting live feed of all running coaches and installing the advanced signalling system to enhance passenger safety and security services at rail premises.
Besides, the Railways will use it for IoT (Internet on Things) based asset monitoring system, passenger information display system and installing European T rain Control System Level 2 on its network.
Though the public transporter had demanded 10 MHZ spectrum in premium frequency from the telecom department, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has recommended 5 MHZ free of cost.
The spectrum is essential for the Railways to modernise its age-old signalling and telecommunication system to match the requirement for speeding up trains, a must for its survival and competing against other modes of transportation.
The spectrum will be used for installing ETCS Level -2 and real-time monitoring of the rolling stock, according to a senior Railway Ministry official.
The ETCS Level-2, a proven automatic train protection system, is required to avoid train accident/collision on account of human error of Signal Passing at Danger (SPAD) or over speeding. It also puts automatic brake once the train moves beyond allowed speed.
The 5 MHZ, valued at about Rs 30,000 crore, will be given to the Railways free of cost for non-commercial purpose.
The spectrum cannot be used for any commercial gain and will be used for only enhancing security and passenger amenities, said the official and added now ultra-high speed 4G-based communication network will be installed along rail routes.
The spectrum will enable transmission of live feed video from moving train and sent the same to the control room which will enhance the safety and security in the rail network.
At present, the national transporter has eight spots in 900 MHz band for mobile train radio communication and GSMR (Global System for Mobile Communication for Railways). As GSMR is becoming an obsolete technology, the Railways have now decided to adopt LTE (long term evolution) technology for achieving broadband communication along the track.
The writer is an independent journalist based in Delhi.