Algerian trains speed to wireless networking

Algerian railways operator Société Nationale des Transports Ferroviaires (SNTF) has begun deployment of a GSM-R-based wireless networking system, the first in Africa.

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By  Eliot Beer Published  September 4, 2006

Algerian railways operator Société Nationale des Transports Ferroviaires (SNTF) has begun deployment of a GSM-R-based wireless networking system, the first in Africa. GSM for railways (GSM-R) is a communications technology developed for use by rail operators in Europe, based on the GSM mobile telecoms standard. SNTF’s system is being supplied by Nortel, one of the main providers of GSM-R equipment. “The international GSM-R standard is a key component to upgrading the Algerian railway communication infrastructure. It is part of a much larger railway infrastructure project, including the construction of new conventional and high speed lines, upgrades of signalling systems and other railway infrastructure,” said Ali Leulmi, central director of infrastructures at SNTF. ”As a world leader in GSM-R, Nortel ensures for this first phase, along the El Gourzi – Touggourt line, that we are equipping our railway service with the most advanced communication technologies.” The GSM-R technology allows railway operators to maintain constant contact with trains, crew and maintenance staff. Each train maintains constant contact with the control centres, via a dedicated data connection across the GSM-R network. GSM-R also allows railway staff to communicate, with individual and group calling options available. GSM-R systems are designed to be very secure, with high levels of redundancy built in to the infrastructure. “Nortel has been challenged by SNTF to provide this first phase of SNTF’s project with a solution that matches the growing need for communication in a fast expanding network,” said Ramin Attari, vice president for the Middle East at Nortel. “This contract is a result of Nortel’s long term commitment to the Algerian market and our role as a major telecoms player in Africa, with over 20 years in the region.” Nortel’s partner, SNEF, will work on the specific implementation. “Our local channel partner, SNEF Algeria, will supply construction, installation and commissioning support. SNEF and Nortel share the same commitment to enhancing network quality and reducing the overall cost of operations,” said Vincent Pratlong, Algeria operations director, SNEF. “Our local experts will work closely with the Algerian railway SNTF to realize the first GSM-R network on the continent.”

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