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Swiss fiber optic and communications technology company Huber+Suhner has developed a new rooftop antenna for use by the Ostdeutsche Eisenbahn GmbH trains operating throughout Germany to enable DAB+ radio broadcasts throughout train carriages. The project was in conjunction with German company Paxlife Innovations GmbH, which specializes in passenger information, content and digital services onboard delivery for transport operators.
PaxLife Innovations started the project by reaching out to numerous vendors operating within the DACH region. The company says it realized there were no suitable antennas on the market capable of supporting the DAB+ frequency bands. Any solution supporting the DAB+ service requires either a very large antenna or a small antenna that can incorporate amplification and filtering techniques to improve the signal strength adequately. However, this approach leads to overall poor signal quality.
PaxLife approached Huber+Suhner to develop a unique antenna to cover the DAB+ Band III operating between the 147-240 MHz frequencies. The antenna utilizes the bands without the need for amplification or filtering, providing the exact signal quality required to listen to public radio. This antenna is integrated within the company’s Sencity Rail Multi system, which provides a height of only 90mm while offering additional support for 4×4 Cellular 5G, 2×2 Wi-Fi and GNSS for a total of eight ports.
Huber+Suhner had to create a solution that could support the multi-ensemble hybrid radio receiver developed by PaxLife. This receiver connects to a DAB+ and GNSS antenna and onboard ethernet LAN. The system also needed a new, unique radiator to enable strong, reliable reception. To this end, Huber+Suhner sourced external experts to contribute to the project, leading to the creation of a prototype radiator that surpassed all internal expectations and was ready for use from the onset.
The new antenna enables rail operators to enhance their passenger offering by leveraging DAB+ for additional 300 Mbps of data reception aside from 4G/5G, using PaxLife Innovations’ hybrid radio service for interruption-free reception and embedded CDN. This enables automatic podcast catching onboard and supports radio stations, podcasts and other on-demand content, including the complimentary audio library of broadcasters.
Ostdeutsche Eisenbahn expects the service to be operational in several trains by the end of Q1 2023.