eLTE firsts for Africa

15 February 2017

Algeria's Houari Boumediene Airport handles 10 m passengers each year, but the government is building a new terminal to increase capacity 14m.

Algeria's Houari Boumediene Airport handles 10 million passengers each year, but the government is building a new terminal to increase capacity 14 million.

Huawei has claimed a couple of firsts for Africa using its eLTE system.

It says this is the first LTE broadband trunking solution to provide voice and video dispatching, and claims it “greatly increases” the efficiency of an emergency or control centre.

The company says its eLTE systems are based on advanced wireless broadband technology, and provide 100Mbps downlink and 50Mbps uplink throughput.

As a result, it says a single network can support multimedia trunking, voice and video scheduling, high-definition video surveillance, ultra-remote data acquisition, and mobile office services. Other features include a compact core network, distributed base stations, and terminal devices that can be used in harsh outdoor environments.

Earlier in 2016, Huawei announced that it had won the bid for a broadband trunking project in Algeria that is said to be the first commercial deployment of an eLTE system at an airport in Africa. 

Houari Boumediene Airport in Algiers handles 10 million passengers each year but the government is building a new terminal to increase capacity 14 million.

TETRA was used at the airport for routine scheduling and dispatch. But the technology’s narrowband system proved insufficient for broadband data transmission, mobile video surveillance, or multimedia dispatch.

What made matters worse was that ground handling services were being carried out in a complicated and noisy environment, making voice dispatch error-prone and thereby increasing security risks. 

Huawei provided a system capable of interworking with the existing TETRA platform to improve the accuracy and efficiency of ground dispatch. It supplied an eLTE core network, base stations, trunking terminals, multimedia dispatching, and other devices and systems.

The vendor said its real-time, large-bandwidth eLTE platform will enable the airport to carry out multimedia trunking dispatch, video surveillance, and other applications on a single network that covers both indoor and outdoor working areas for the ground staff.

To cope with noise in the airport, Huawei’s system supports throat vibration mic earpieces, noise-cancelling headphones, and additional accessories to guarantee voice trunking performance. 

The company added that eLTE can offer complete video dispatch and real-time monitoring services through backhaul of onsite images to the command centre. It also provides an open eSDK for interconnection with third-party airport applications. 

Huawei claimed another first for eLTE in 2015.

After providing the communications systems for the Addis Ababa City Light Rail Transit (AACLRT) project, it claimed that it had become the first company to use LTE in an African metro railway system.

Addis Ababa is Ethiopia’s economic centre and transportation hub. It also is the headquarters of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the African Union.

However, its outdated transportation infrastructure had become a bottleneck, preventing economic growth in the fast-growing city.

Until recently, the main methods of public transportation were overcrowded buses and minibuses. A new metro rail system was therefore envisaged to reduce traffic congestion in Addis Ababa, boost economic growth in Ethiopia, andusher in a new era of urban light rail construction not only in the country but in Eastern Africa.

In 2015, a trial of the Addis Ababa Light Rail, Africa’s first modern urban light rail system, began operations.

Built by China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group Company, the first phase of the project involved the construction of two railway lines that span 31km and included one control centre and 39 stations, two of which are underground.

Huawei was contracted to provide several key technologies including end-to-end eLTE and related communication systems for AACLRT’s railway line which connects urban centres and industrial areas throughout the capital. 

The Ethiopian government wanted the system to be based on advanced technologies that would not become obsolete within the next decade.

In addition, the system would need to meet diverse service requirements, facilitate O&M, and reduce costs.

Furthermore, a train-to-ground wireless communications system also was required to provide train dispatching and ticket data transmission services.

Huawei created an end-to-end eLTE system for Addis Ababa city light rail transit project.

Huawei created an end-to-end eLTE system for Addis Ababa city light rail transit project.

In order to avoid duplicating network capacity and to minimise the investment required for each device, Huawei says it based the AACLRT’s system on a single backbone network that supports multiple services, including communication, signalling, SCADA and fare collection.

The vendor says its eLTE network operates on the dedicated LTE TDD 400MHz frequency band to avoid interference from external wireless signals.

The company also claims it provides more stable trunking services than analogue train dispatch communications systems.

It provided eLTE broadband-trunking, handheld terminals and also customised the EV750 vehicle-mounted devices and dispatching systems for train drivers provided by another project partner, Shenzhen Communication Technology.

Huawei says that just one of its eLTE cells provides a wireless network that covers 1.2km, and requires just four baseband units and nine radio remote units.

The vendor adds that eLTE’s ultra-wideband technology enables wireless dispatching and various other services, including voice trunking and real-time wireless transmission of ticket data over a single-network, thereby reducing the need for trackside devices and lowering maintenance costs.

As urban rail transit systems are increasingly using video applications, Huawei created a bespoke version of its integrated Digital Urban Rail Transportation solution for the AACLRT.

This train-to-ground communication platform uses LTE HD video and optical transmission technologies, and includes all necessary service systems such as: wireless, transport and IP-based fixed networks; communication power supply; telephony; and CCTV.