Nokia and Vodafone have entered the final stages of negotiation to ink a deal with the Victorian government for the deployment of LTE networks through the metro rail network.
The primary purpose of the new network will be to improve communications between rail operators by upgrading the existing digital train radio system. But as a side-effect, the installation is also set to improve mobile phone coverage for Melbourne commuters on the Vodafone network.
Nokia and Vodafone first approached the state government back in April 2015 with a pitch to install new 4G equipment across metropolitan rail assets.
Victorian treasurer Tim Pallas announced today that their bid has made it to stage four of the five-stage market-led proposals process, which means the telco pair will now enter exclusive final-stage contract negotiations to bed down the terms of their offer.
Should the deal go ahead as expected, the rollout will take six months and deliver Metro Trains, Public Transport Victoria and VicTrack better and faster asset maintenance alerts, better location tracking and arrival times for train services, and high capacity signalling.
The government has promised there will be no disruptions to commuters as a result of the installation works.
The talks are occurring in the lead-up to the expiry of the state government’s current digital transport radio deal, which will end in 2018.
The existing network was also built by Nokia. It faced a number of costly budget blow-outs during its lifespan.