The Austrian Federal Railways is the national railway system of Austria, and the administrator of Liechtenstein's railways. The ÖBB group is owned entirely by the Republic of Austria and is divided into several separate businesses that manage the infrastructure and operate passenger and freight services.
Live broadcasts of popular events such as football matches present a significant issue for both train operators and passengers, yet OBB were adamant they wanted to take their passenger experience to the next level and with Nomad started the discussions as to how to take on this challenge.
The train’s WiFi connectivity is not capable of sustaining individual passengers all attempting to stream media onto their local device at the same time. The available bandwidth quickly becomes exhausted while the issue of short connection outages and delays impact directly on streaming media directly from the internet. There are also cost implications for the customer of a high volume of passengers streaming video using cellular networks.
Nomad has offered preloaded video content as part of its media and infotainment platform for some time, however providing passengers with uninterrupted access to televised live events has always posed unique challenges. Conventional methods of delivering TV over an IP network are not able to cope with breaks in communication caused by tunnels and areas of low network coverage. ÖBB’s management were very keen to screen live football matches from UEFA 2016, so Nomad mobilised a cross-functional team to develop an innovative solution to meet the challenge.
The Live TV solution is the result of close collaboration between Nomad and ÖBB. The product was delivered in time for the UEFA championships, and is running on selected ÖBB Railjet trains and is now part of Nomad’s product suite.
As part of a wider suite of enhanced technology solutions, Nomad’s next generation 3500P provides the platform to enable a fully upgraded connectivity service and integrated media server. This 3500P upgrade provides the very latest in integrated passenger connectivity solutions through faster router technology via enhanced packet delivery and true carrier aggregation, upgraded access points and new-generation modems, offering a scalable and reliable future-proofed solution and an operational application hosting environment.
In addition, Nomad’s connectivity solution supports the launch of ÖBB’s integrated passenger portal, which delivers a full media and infotainment platform with rich content and a Passenger Information System (PIS), providing passengers with fully synchronised and integrated real-time journey and service information.
The technology has the capacity or the future integration of advertising content, offering a financial incentive for the operator.
A suite of multiple on-board connectivity and passenger information solutions have been implemented to improve the passenger experience. These have leveraged Nomad’s next generation 3500P product series across the ÖBB intercity Railjet fleet - with new faster router and media blades based on updated and powerful Intel technology, with cooling fans to control heat. This innovation has been combined with enhanced technology implemented to improve the passenger experience including upgraded Access Points with 802.11ac and Gigabit switch capabilities, new generation modems, and new modem-based GPS-based technologies.
To deliver live broadcast TV, Nomad developed and installed hardware and software in the OBB NOC which acts as a hub to collect media from ORF - Austria’s primary broadcaster – who provide the content.
Our unique software (patents applied for) manages the media and stays in contact with software running on each train. The on-train software maintains a local buffer of media such that it can withstand periods with little or no connectivity whilst allowing passengers to continue to view the broadcast uninterrupted, not dependant on off-train bandwidth.
The product was originally planned to deliver media only to passenger’s own devices but we were also able to work with ÖBB to deliver the TV broadcast to the PIS screens located in each carriage which required development and integration with existing systems.
Building on a strategic 10-year partnership with ÖBB, Nomad designed, integrated and deployed multiple on-board connected passenger services, which have been rolled out across ÖBB’s Railjet fleet of 420 Siemens train carriages, which serve Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
The stand-out feature amongst a host of fully-integrated enhanced passenger solutions, is Nomad and ÖBB’s world-first live broadcast TV solution over IP for the rail market. The launch of the on-board live broadcast TV tied in with UEFA’s Euro 2016 kick off, allowing passengers to keep in touch with the latest scores by watching the games live on selected trains, significantly enhancing their experience and providing a solution no other European train operator had managed.