Window treatment process should improve signal strength on Belgian trains

Belgian passengers have long struggled with connectivity problems during their commutes. But thanks to a new manufacturing process for windows, these problems could soon disappear, writes Le Soir on Tuesday.

Train carriages are made of metal, which blocks radio frequencies. One solution would be to install special equipment in the trains, such as wifi routers, but this was deemed too expensive by train operator SNCB. However, window manufacturer AGC has introduced a new process that should improve connectivity on trains.

Train windows contain a thin, invisible layer of silver that improves thermal insulation, senior account manager Anthony Robin told Le Soir. His company has developed a technology that uses a laser to remove a small part of this silver layer. In this way, the layer retains its insulating properties while allowing radio frequencies to pass through like normal glass. It is also future proof, allowing frequencies up to 6G to pass through.

Process to take time

The silver layer in newly manufactured windows has already been modified, but treating windows currently in use will take time. "The laser treatment can be done in a few hours, but it has to be done during maintenance, at a pace dictated by the railway operator," says Robin. According to SNCB, priority will be given to InterCity trains.

SNCB also highlights the role of Belgian telecom operators in improving signal strength on trains. Some sections are not yet well covered, the company says. A royal decree obliges those operators to guarantee good coverage on the 15 most popular railway lines by September. For the other lines, the government has released an 11 million euro subsidy to replace masts and install 5G antennas.



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