Connected today and beyond with fiber optic solutions from HUBER+SUHNER

Written by 

Antonio Sequeira

Market Manager

Rail passengers and operators are demanding a superior online experience while on the move, forcing the industry to respond. For both legacy stock and brand-new trains, it is vital that on-board networks are able to manage the rising demand for high bandwidth services, specifically Close-Circuit Television (CCTV), 4K media streaming and in-carriage Wi-Fi connectivity.

Fiber optics (FO) products hold the key to overcoming this unprecedented demand, but the use of this technology within the railway industry is not a completely new concept. Having worked with customers to develop tailored FO solutions since the early 1990s, HUBER+SUHNER has established itself as a market leader in the field, offering adaptable, customisable and easy-to-install solutions which offer the scalability and upgradability required for efficient communications.

Disruptive-resistant communication networks
Traditional communications systems sent radio waves along copper cables to different data points. FO technology instead involves information being coded within a beam of light, which is then sent across pipes made of plastic or glass, providing a quicker, more efficient way of transporting information. Operators who used legacy copper solutions may find that the system in place struggles to handle 1Gbit of data, whereas customers who leverage FO solutions can expect over ten times the capacity, with the potential to handle an unparalleled 100Gbit in specific application scenarios.

The solutions provided by HUBER+SUHNER are also perfect for monitoring systems found in environments high in electrical noise, or ones in control of the subsystems sensitive to this, such as traction control systems. Electromagnetic interference (EMI) is the build-up of unwanted noise or interference within an electrical path or circuit which is generated by an external source. Legacy copper systems can suffer disruption owing to the EMI generated by working in areas next to or close to electrical equipment. FO solutions are resistant to these interferences, and are galvanically isolated, meaning they remain unaffected.

A future-ready approach
Current and legacy rolling stock are already reaping the benefits of fiber optic solutions. Through its extensive range of adaptable solutions, HUBER+SUHNER has provided customers with an upgradable infrastructure bandwidth, allowing them the opportunity to upgrade and enhance their onboard equipment without the need to replace the already existing fiber optic infrastructure.

The FO solutions on offer from HUBER+SUHNER have been developed and thoroughly tested to withstand the exact same requirements as the previous legacy systems. The latest solutions are able to provide the same durability as the legacy copper systems, but with increased performance and reliable high-data-rate transmission. Subsequently, they demonstrate excellent resistance and reliability despite even the harshest environments, at any point during its life cycle.

Compatibility is key
In comparison to legacy copper cabling, FO solutions are lighter and have greater flexibility, having a much smaller diameter which is compatible with modern train designs. FO cables are easier to handle and install, meaning train designers and engineers can accommodate this type of FO solution in a much more compact way, maximising the available interior space for commuters. These solutions have also been designed with compatibility in mind, working seamlessly with products created from a variety of other providers.

For the operators carrying out retrofit projects on the older trains within their fleet, these cables can pass through tighter areas where space is practically non-existent. They have also been designed to be up-to-date with the latest railway standards. This includes vibration & shock compliancy to EN 61373 Category 1b and 2, as well as fire safety compliancy to EN 45545-2 HL3, meaning all operators can expect a modern, optimised service from its trains, no matter the age of the rolling stock.

Tailored support from the forefront of innovation
With over 25 years working and developing FO solutions, HUBER+SUHNER has established itself as a market leader within the industry, offering customers bespoke solutions that can be tailored to suit their specific needs. Through its dedicated Research and Development team, HUBER+SUHNER has the knowledge and expertise to remain on the cutting edge of fiber-optic technology, and customers can expect build-to-print, co-design or full design solutions due to its approach to in-house engineering and manufacturing. Consequently, over 3,000 trains around the world continue to benefit from the multiple FO solutions provided by HUBER+SUHNER.