The use of the 900MHz spectrum for LTE services could compromise rail safety, claimed the UK chairman of the Rail Freight Group, Lord Berkeley. The peer said that the planned use of the 900MHz band was 'quite close' to the frequency being used for the introduction of train driver communications.
The warning was given as the UK government pushed through an Ofcom directive that forms the first stage of the planned auction of LTE spectrum intended for 2013.
Speaking during the peers' debate, Lord Berkeley warned that LTE could be a serious issue for the railways--"it could cause accidents, 'going through signals at red' in the old terminology".
He added that the updating of 6,000 trains drivers' cabs with digital communications was largely complete, and it could cost [in a worst-case] up to £100 million to contain and eliminate interference to trackside and train systems.
"'It is extraordinary that things have got this far,"' he told peers. '"We seem to be getting into a situation where, on the railways and the broadband, we are seeking to comply with EU-wide rules which appear to conflict."
Lord Berkeley added that the cost of any modification to the drivers' communication should be borne by either the transport department or the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which was promoting the LTE broadband auction.
Earlier this year, the cable set-top industry raised fears that LTE could cause interference to TV reception in consumer homes, albeit that the cellular infrastructure vendors seemed unaware of the potential problem.
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