Jochen Apel, VP of Nokia’s Global Transportation Segment


Rail Professional Asia Pacific sat down with Jochen Apel, VP of Nokia’s Global Transportation Segment at AP Rail 2017 in Hong Kong


‘Nokia is the mission-critical railway solutions provider for a safe, on-time and connected journey. The company offers a complete end-to-end railway communications portfolio, including the GSM-R solution, LTE, reliable transport (IP/MPLS and optical), cybersecurity and IoT platform, combined with a dedicated professional service team with proven turnkey capability and a global presence.

Nokia’s highly secure and resilient wireless and fixed communications networks designed for urban, mass transit, main line and freight rail operators are based on industry standards to guarantee interoperability, safety, reliability, efficiency and long-term support.’


How has Nokia’s rail program developed over its lifetime?


‘Nokia has more than 30 years of experience in the railway industry with the most complete E2E portfolio and professional services. We are the market leader with more than 20 GSM-R networks and more than 80 mission-critical railway networks deployed and live.’


What is Nokia’s vision for its rail program?


‘Although the railway sector is very much focused on safety and on-time journeys, we see that passenger experience is becoming more and more important to our customers. Also, passengers and commuters have increasingly high expectations toward railway operators.

In the past, the most important parameter in the customer experience was on-time travel. Fast forwarding to today, comfort, including all-time connectivity, is essential. This drives network operators toward converged mobile and fixed networks, carrying multiple services over one network.

Adoption of LTE technology, as well as IP/MPLS, is a must to be able to stay competitive in an increasingly automated world. These mature technologies will also help railway operators to further improve their operations. Predictive maintenance and a complete digital map of the entire operations will drive Opex reduction, but also help railway companies to compete with OTT players like Uber.’


How does Nokia see this playing out in the Asia Pacific region?


‘Asia is experiencing high growth in the construction of new railway infrastructures, mainly driven by rapid urbanization and expansion in metropolitan areas. The railway supply and services market is foreseen to grow at 2.6 per cent CAGR over 2016-2021, according to UNIFE.

China and India will continue to lead the region in terms of the number of new lines and kilometres of track. However, government financing from China and Japan will further accelerate the pace of railway construction, especially in the under-developed economies.

In particular, the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative by the Chinese will spur economic integration and development of new connectivity between Asia and Europe. Asia is a key region for Nokia to invest resources to cover the different markets comprehensively.’


Tell us about the LG CNS that Nokia is currently working on in Kuala Lumpur?


‘LG CNS is the communication systems integrator for the Klang Valley MRT Line in Kuala Lumpur. LG CNS selected Nokia to provide a mission-critical backbone transmission network based on internet protocol/multi-protocol label switching (IP/MPLS) technology to support a variety of passenger and operational services, including passenger information and security systems, wireless transmission and operational support subsystems, such as supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), maintenance management system (MMS), automated fare collection (AFC) and more.

Nokia’s IP/MPLS network solution has a well-proven track record, having deployed in more than 30 railways, but mainly in Europe. Outside Europe, railway operators in Asia are beginning to understand the benefits of this technology and how it will lower their total cost of ownership (TCO). IP/MPLS is matured and standards-defined by the IETF/IEEE and is operationally used by all telecom service providers.

Nokia’s IP/MPLS solution is not only future-proofed, it is engineered industrially for mission-critical requirements expected by railway operators. We have railways in Europe deploying this technology to carry mission-critical voice, as well as train control signalling (ERTMS and CBTC). Compared to its competing solutions, IP/MPLS offers unparalleled features, such as support of legacy TDM interfaces, layer 2/3 VPN, sub-50msec fast reroute, traffic engineering, network isolation and cybersecurity.

Nokia is pursuing several rail opportunities in Malaysia, such as MRT Line 2 and LRT 3, to name a few. We are also in discussion with MCMC on the frequency allocation to support LTE /4G implementation for railway communication.’


What is Nokia’s presence like in other countries across the Asia Pacific region?


‘Nokia is a market-leading supplier of mobile communication networks to many telecom service providers in the Asia Pacific region and, therefore, currently has a presence in almost all countries across the region. Our goal is to leverage the strong footprint we have to expand our enterprise business into other verticals, such as railway.’


In which markets was the technology first tested?


‘LTE in railways was first adopted in Korea, where Nokia is supplying a complete new LTE network. Other early adopters were mining companies in Australia or South America, which started using LTE technology very early for their railway track between the mine and the sea port. The starting point of IP/MPLS adoption was in Europe, where IP/MPLS is now the de-facto standard technology for railway networks able to carry multiple services, including mission-critical applications like train control.’


How do you see Nokia’s rail technology being utilized in other cities across Asia Pacific?


‘As far as railway is concerned, Europe is leading the world, in terms of IP/MPLS technology adoption and references. We’re seeing that Asia is rather conservative in adopting newer communication technology and also risk-averse.

Having said this, many rail operators have started to realize the advantages and benefits that IP/MPLS brings. A good example is Malaysia, where this technology is now in operational use. Other countries, such as Korea and Australia, have also started adopting.’


Which existing Metro systems, like Bangkok, Singapore, Seoul, Hong Kong and Manila, do you think would benefit from this technology?


‘All metro lines, either greenfield or brownfield, can benefit from our IP/MPLS technology. There is no limitation whatsoever that will prevent operators from adopting IP/MPLS as their core data communication network.

We also have experience in helping our customers migrate and transform their networks from legacy technology to IP/MPLS. Our Asia Pacific region customers can rest assured that they can entrust their network technology with Nokia.’


Are you watching the new Metro systems under construction in Hanoi and Jakarta and the expansions in Bangkok and Manila?


‘As a company, Nokia Networks is present throughout the Asia Pacific region. We are monitoring almost all the markets where public infrastructure development is the underpinning growth of the economy, so of course Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, The Philippines, Indonesia are front and centre in that aspect.

We will see more urban transit and inter-city railway lines, including high speed lines, in the next five years.

Nokia is expanding its footprint within the railway industry. We’ve been the market leader in mission-critical networks for railways for many years in various technology areas.

While Europe remains a strong market for Nokia, Asia Pacific is the hottest one for sure. Railway companies in the region will benefit from our long-lasting experience in wireless and wireline railway networks.

Adoption of new technologies like LTE and IP/MPLS are a must to stay competitive and serve the increasing expectations from passengers. Nokia has the broadest portfolio, strongest integration capabilities and most experienced workforce in the market when it comes to railway networks.’