target audience: TECH BUYER  Publication date: Jul 2023 - Document type: IDC PlanScape - Doc  Document number: # US50559823

IDC PlanScape: The Power of 5G for the Railway Industry

By:  Massimiliano Claps Loading


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To underpin these investments, railways must modernize their connectivity infrastructure, because legacy connectivity capabilities are obsolete and fragmented across use cases and railway lines as well as increasingly exposed to security threats.

Railways need to design strategic road maps and action plans to migrate to the next generation of 5G (and then 6G) technologies to take advantage of enhanced reliability, security, and performance. In the context of the 5G migration, the FRMCS will play a particularly important role in replacing GSM for railways (GSM-R). It must be noted that IDC does not expect all use cases to converge onto 5G, for all types of railways, from urban to suburban to interurban. Other technologies, such as WLAN and satellite, will continue to play a role; nonetheless, a 5G-centric road map will offer railways the opportunity to rationalize their connectivity environments.

The road to 5G is not without barriers such as difficulty in securing funding, the risk of adopting technology without widespread availability of precedent customer stories, and complacency with existing technologies. Railways will have to:

  • Make strategic choices about deployment model, high-priority railway lines, and use cases to build clear 5G/FRMCS investment cases that help secure funding.
  • They need to shift to a new mindset and skills that see 5G/FRMCS not just as a move away from GSM-R, but also as an opportunity to move forward to innovate.
  • They need to be proactive in working with standards bodies such as 3GPP, UIC, and technology vendors to influence solution road maps that can deliver reliable, interoperable, secure connectivity capabilities that support business innovation.

This IDC PlanScape provides railway operators and railway network executives with a framework to make strategic choices about the deployment of next-generation 5G solutions. It also elaborates on the stakeholders to be involved, the investments to be made, and the benefits and risks.

"5G/FRMCS is not only a switch over to a new standard — it represents an opportunity for railways to push the boundaries of customer-centric service innovation and intelligent, safe, and sustainable operations. But to get it right, railways must align strategic road maps, organizational change, and collaboration with the ecosystem," said Massimiliano Claps, IDC EMEA's lead transportation analyst.


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