Laser Technology Enhancing Mobile Signal on German Railways: Also Effective in Czechia

The coverage of railway networks has been consistently improving yearly, yet there are still areas where mobile internet coverage is non-existent. Laser technology is now employed in neighboring Germany to enhance the quality of connectivity, specifically aimed at improving regional train experiences. Interestingly, a virtually identical technology is already used in the Czech Republic.

German rail operator Deutsche Bahn (DB) uses laser technology in a pilot project to enhance mobile signals in Bavaria, Berlin, and Brandenburg. Daniela Gerd Tom Markottenova, responsible for rail digitalization at DB, stated that laser technology should provide passengers with up to a hundred times better mobile signal reception. “The results are more than impressive,” exclaimed Markottenova.

Modern train carriages face several challenges in facilitating seamless mobile signal propagation. The spread of mobile signals is hindered not only by the metallic structure but also by windows, which are coated for thermal insulation.

Although this preserves thermal comfort for passengers, it significantly hampers the quality of the mobile signal. Electromagnetic waves struggle to penetrate the metallic barrier posed by these coated windows.

To address this issue, DB has decided to use lasers to disrupt the metallic layer on the windows of selected regional carriages, allowing the mobile signal to flow freely. Instead of a uniform coated film, these windows have a mesh structure that retains thermal properties.

Some new trains already come equipped with these modified windows. For instance, the high-speed train ICE 3neo exhibits significantly improved signal quality compared to its older versions. Low-floor ICE L trains, set to carry passengers for the first time in Germany in 2024, also feature windows capable of transmitting the mobile signal.

For older carriages, the mentioned laser technology will ensure passengers do not lose mobile connectivity, eliminating the need for window replacements while preserving thermal comfort.

“We don’t need any new window panels, a significant advantage in environmental protection. The financial savings from this solution are undeniable,” added Markottenova.

Notably, the German railway is not pioneering lasers for this purpose. The Czech Railways has employed the same technology to ensure robust mobile signal strength inside train carriages. The first trains to utilize this technology hit the tracks in 2021, specifically the InterJet trains operating between Prague and Western Czechia.

The Czech Railways stated then, “InterJet is the first train in Central Europe to have special windows to enhance mobile signal in the train carriage area.”