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CGI, Eutelsat OneWeb and Icomera to pilot improved broadband communications for train travel through seamless hybrid satellite and terrestrial networks

CGI (NYSE: GIB) (TSX: GIB.A) is running live trials to demonstrate how integrated low-earth orbit satellite and terrestrial communications networks can provide seamless, low latency broadband connectivity on Britain’s rail network. The pilot, run with partners Eutelsat OneWeb, part of the Eutelsat Group, the world’s first GEO-LEO satellite operator, and Icomera, a leading provider of integrated connectivity solutions for public transport networks, aims to demonstrate how constellations of communication satellites can seamlessly fill gaps in terrestrial coverage and provide additional capacity in a cost-effective way.

The trial, which is connected to the Satellites for Digitalisation of Railways (SODOR) project supported by the European Space Agency (ESA) and UK Space Agency (UKSA), will support the evolution of rail transport through access to uninterrupted real-time communications systems that could improve passenger experience, enhance safety and increase automation.

Due to the impact of terrain and terrestrial network congestion, many rail passengers will be familiar with dropped calls and poor WiFi or mobile coverage. To demonstrate overcoming this challenge in rural settings, the trial will take place on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway late this month, using test equipment installed on a rolling test-bed, including Icomera’s multi-carrier gateway. Icomera’s SureWAN aggregation algorithm will be used to wirelessly connect the test bed to the terrestrial and satellite networks. Demonstrating the ability of the hybrid network to support varied passenger and operational uses, cost-effectively from one common infrastructure will be a key component of this pilot scheme.

Jaime Reed, Vice President Consulting Services for Space Data Platforms and Applications at CGI in the UK and Australia said: “Integrating terrestrial and satellite networks can provide a cost-effective solution for always-on connectivity. Satellites can provide the missing coverage needed for large transport networks. At CGI we have been leading the way in making these complex integrated networks a reality and we are very much looking forward to working with our partners to further address these challenges so that we can bring these capabilities to market.”

“The digital transformation of the railway has been underway for more than a decade, but we are now entering a particularly exciting phase. New technologies such as Eutelsat OneWeb’s Low Earth Orbit satellite network will enable use cases and applications that we can hardly even imagine today. Critical to all of these applications will be a highly advanced, flexible and automatable communications system that ensures the capacity, responsiveness and security that railways will require” said Drew Brandy, Head of Land Mobility at Eutelsat OneWeb.

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