The UNITEL committee focuses on developing and implementing the future interoperable railway communication system (FRMCS/Next Generation), the inherent successor of GSM-R, as part of the future ERTMS.


brings together the major railway telecommunications products suppliers and companies that have significant experience in current GSM-R and future railway systems.


With over 35 different European railway communication systems in use, the European Railways decided to work together to achieve inter-operability by using a single communication platform. They identified their shared requirements and various technologies were evaluated.

GSM was chosen as the best technology because:

  • It is widely proven
  • It is highly interoperable
  • It is a hugely successful global standard

Railway operators, institutes and industries have established common activities to specify, to test and to approve the systems needed. The GSM-R standard and its continued development are managed by the European Railways under leadership of UIC (International Railway Association) and European Union Agency for Railways and it benefits from the support of the European Commission and railway bodies.

GSM-R is the wireless communication standard for railway networks. It has been developed under European Union sponsorship to assist railways in achieving their goals of network interoperability, reduced operational costs, improved safety at higher speeds and delivery of new services for the benefit of the railway operating companies and their passengers.

GSM-R is built on GSM technology and benefits from the economies of scale of its GSM technology heritage. It is a cost-efficient digital replacement for existing incompatible in-track cable and analogue railway radio networks.

The standard is the result of over ten years of collaboration between the various European railway companies, with the goal of achieving interoperability using a single communication platform. GSM-R, standardised in EIRENE, is part of the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) standard and carries the signalling information directly to the train driver, enabling higher train speeds and traffic density with a high level of safety.

UNITEL members are today active in customer projects in more than 30 countries around the globe, deploying about 200.000 km of tracks with GSM-R infrastructure for voice and ETCS, providing more than 11.000 Dispatcher Terminals, 90.000 Onboard Devices (CAB and ETCS EDOR), 85.000 Handhelds and Test Modules as well as 45.000 GSM-R radio modules. Several members are providing full integration capabilities for complete end to end systems.

30 Countries

200.000 km

11.000 terminals

90.000 devices

85.000 modules

45.000 radios

On GSM-R long term support:

Due to the large amount of GSM-R equipment installed and the fact that the railways need to extend the life-cycle of the system, the UNITEL members are committed to support GSM-R products and solutions at least until 2030 including:

  • Maintenance of GSM-R systems hardware/software
  • Life cycle management
    Support of CCS TSI / EIRENE requirements
  • Mitigation of Interferences
  • Migration towards IP
  • Enabling Coexistence and Migration towards FRMCS

Concurrently the supply industry requires the full support of infrastructure managers and railway undertakings in order to maintain a healthy GSM-R market by investing in extended support agreements, refreshes and upgrades.

For more information please find the following GSM-R Long-term Support Statement – Statement from the members of the UNITEL Committee on the railway telecommunications supply industry’s long-term support of GSM-R, July 2021

On FRMCS – Future Railway Mobile Communication System

An important part of the ERTMS strategy is the evolution of the Railway operational communication system to the Next Generation, to overcome obsolescence, and enable the implementation of future broadband applications and to provide independence of Railway applications from the underlying network technologies.

Therefore, the UNITEL is in active cooperation with the UIC, the European Union Agency for Railways and other Railway Stakeholders across Europe in defining and specifying FRMCS as next generation Railway operational communications as well as the migration from GSM-R toward this. This will additionally result in an update of the EU legal framework in order to guarantee and maintain technical interoperability across Europe. UNITEL member are also heavily involved in standardization groups within ETSI, 3GPP and ECC CEPT.

As members of the Industry Group and as the key suppliers for the worldwide installed interoperable ERTMS/ GSM-R systems, we gathered invaluable experience over the last 15 years, which will be used to ensure the seamless migration from GSM-R to the Next Generation.

Please find more information in the position paper “EU funded and coordinated FRMCS pilot projects – The key to successful introduction of the next generation railway communication system, July 2019”, available here and from “Successful Transition to FRMCS – UNIFE Position Paper on the Key Success Factors for the transition to FRMCS, September 2021” available here.


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