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Lithuanian Railways Tackles Connectivity Issues with Starlink Satellite Internet Trials

Lithuanian Railways Tackles Connectivity Issues with Starlink Satellite Internet Trials
photo: LTG/Lithuanian Railways Tackles Connectivity Issues with Starlink Satellite Internet Trials
24 / 04 / 2023

The Information Technology team of Lietuvos Geležinkeliai Grupė (LTG) is implementing a project to assess the possibilities of improving internet connectivity on trains.

Currently, trains travelling through forested and remote areas of Lithuania have intermittent internet connections. The LTG IT team has already tested several solutions available on the market and will soon start testing Starlink satellite Internet connectivity on one of the trains of the passenger transport company LTG Link. The three-month pilot project aims to evaluate the potential of the next generation of the Internet.

Wireless internet connection (Wi-Fi) on trains is crucial for passengers using it for their own use and for the convenience of paying for services with a payment card.

"I am pleased that Lietuvos Geležinkeliai is trying to innovatively solve a problem often raised by customers, which, for so long, has not been overcome in cooperation with traditional telecommunications companies. I hope that the satellite Internet connection will prove to be a success and that all passengers will be able to enjoy uninterrupted connectivity throughout their journeys," said Minister of Transport and Communications Marius Skuodis.

The first contacts with Space X, a leading space company, were initiated by the Ministry of Transport and Communications in early 2021. Shortly afterwards, Space X set up its own subsidiary in the country, Starlink Lithuania. They started operations in Lithuania at the end of 2021.

According to the Minister of Transport and Communications, Starlink Lithuania is about broadening the use of Internet services and giving consumers a choice. It is also demonstrated by the example of the Lithuanian Railways.

"We are looking at all the solutions available on the market to improve wireless Internet services on trains when they pass through forested, less populated areas where Internet connectivity is intermittent. We want to be able to ensure a stable, uninterrupted and fast connection throughout the journey. We have already tested and evaluated several other solutions available on the market, and we will soon start testing satellite Internet connectivity on trains," says Vytautas Bitinas, Director of Technology at Lietuvos Geležinkeliai.

"The testing of Starlink equipment will assess whether the stable and fast Internet connection can be maintained along the entire train route. It is expected that satellite Internet will be automatically activated in sections where the usual Internet connection is weakened so that both satellite and mobile technologies will be used effectively during the testing.

The three-month test of Starlink equipment on one of the LTG Link trains is scheduled to start in the second quarter of this year. A contract worth €6,864 has already been signed with Venn Telecom of Belgium for the necessary equipment and testing services.

"We are continuously developing solutions for train passengers to encourage more sustainable train travel and improve their experience. When travelling by train, most customers want to have an opportunity to work uninterrupted while travelling from one part of Lithuania to another, listen to music or podcasts, or watch movies. Internet connectivity on trains is influenced by the number of passengers using the Internet, the geographical location of the train, and the operator towers along the route. This pilot project will help us assess how we can ensure seamless internet connectivity across the country, even in sections where it is still lacking," says Linas Baužys, CEO of LTG Link.

LTG is working with the country's mobile operators to offer better wireless Internet to customers travelling by train and has also tested an onboard amplifier. However, it is crucial to look for additional innovations to further enhance the quality of the internet connection.

Source: LTG