Global information tech leader Huawei (News - Alert) announced this week that it will deploy Zambia's first Global System for Mobile Communication - Railway communication infrastructure. Huawei has partnered with Zambia Railways Limited and Bombardier Transportation to place signal tracking mechanisms along the Chingola-Livingstone railway line, all part of a project costing $51 million.
The GSM-R protocol is an internationally-recognized standard for railway communications. A subset of the European Rail Traffic Management System, the system can handle communications between trains moving up to 300 mph without any disruption in signal.
The Zambian government first supported enhancement of the Chingola-Livingstone railway with a grant of $120 million to be applied to signal-tracking upgrades. Now, the GSM-R technology will help further increase the safety of the line by enhancing its communications capabilities. In the company's statement, Fan Wen, managing director of Huawei in Zambia, commented on the nature of the project.
"For railway lines with underdeveloped fixed networks and rare optical resources, a reliable wireless network solution is crucial for achieving enhanced safety and management efficiency," he said.
Huawei is charged with designing the digital radio system. It will utilize its own Advanced Telecommunications Computing Architecture-based computing system in both the railway's core network and in its distributed base stations. The ATCA system will allow for better network performance, less power consumption, and increased reliability compared to other standards such as Carrier Grade Rack Mounted Servers. The entire infrastructure project will also rely on microwave transmissions between critical and non-critical systems, such as between train signals and closed-circuit television.
This is not Huawei's first foray in the railway projects of this type. The company has over 20 years of experience in various communications endeavors, and it previously worked in Turkey to upgrade the country's Kayas-Kayseri line with GSM-R technology. The terrain of that specific line in Turkey is known for being difficult to manage, causing officials to expect the project to be challenging. Indications of progress on that project should bode well for the future success in Zambia.