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Global access aggregator and end-point security provider iPass punts: Thames Online, which operates Wi-Fi along a 10-mile stretch of that well-known river in London, will allow iPass customers to roam onto their network. The network reaches 250,000 residents, and sees 2,000 daily users who commute along the river or work at locations nearby. iPass resells access from over 50,000 hotspots worldwide to corporations through a single login and unified, electronic billing.
The GNER train operator will have Wi-Fi-based Internet access on all Mallard trains by Aug. 2006: They originally had expected it no earlier than May 2007. GNER operates the East Coast Line from Kings Cross in London through Peterborough, York, Newcastle, and Edinburgh.
Telabria, National Express pair for on-bus Internet access: While this press release isn’t online anywhere yet, the two companies have apparently released the news that Telabria equipment will be used in a trial of on-bus Internet access via Wi-Fi. The 010 London to Cambridge route will offer Wi-Fi service with the uplink provided by a 3G cellular data connection which they rate at “up to 300 Kbps.” The network will get a speed bump through a Telabria upgrade later this year when UK mobile carriers upgrade to HSDPA, which could provide as much as 1.5 Mbps of downstream bandwidth. The service is available for free at the moment, but when it’s out of trials, the two companies said the platform will allow mobile carriers to offer bus service as an add-on to existing customers.
National Express serves 18 million passengers per year across 1,000 routes in the UK. There’s a flyer on the National Express site in PDF form that has no real additional information (image at upper right).
Hopling, KPN installed service in 20 major and 50 smaller stations for the National Dutch Rail Authority: Hopling uses mesh networking to provide service across the larger stations, and simpler points of service for the smaller ones.
Scotland and England have Wi-Fi populating trains left and right—or east and west, north and south: The latest addition is a plan to add Internet access via Wi-Fi on trains between Edinburgh and Glasgow. This article notes how the private firm GNER has been installing Internet service on its routes and plans full coverage by 2007, while Virgin Trains is testing such an offering. First ScotRail runs the Edinburgh-Glasgow line, and will try to roll it out quickly.
Megabeam is extremely happy with usage uptake on its A1 and A4 service area Wi-Fi (in italiano): The service is offered in nearly 20 stops along the A1 (Milano to Bologna) and A4 (Milano to Brescia) highways. The number of connections doubles every month, Megabeam says in this report. Rates are €6.50 for 60 minutes (in one block), €12.90 for 24 hours, or €19.90 for 100 minutes across the entire Linkem network in one-minute usage increments.
First Great Western and First Great Western Link plan to offer Wi-Fi at all their stations: The Cloud will install the hotspots in the 85 stations, starting with ten that should be available this summer. Users will be able to work on the train, uploading and downloading information via the Internet when the trains pull into stations.
UK trains have been aggressive in rolling out Wi-Fi services. This particular announcement is interesting because it may be simpler for First Great Western to deploy the hotspots in stations only, rather than along the entire line. Such a deployment will be less expensive for the rail operator to build and maintain and can still be very useful for train travelers.
Thalys service from Paris to Brussels had 4 Mbps down, 2 Mbps up via satellite: The European train operator in conjunction with 21Net, Siemens, and Garderos pulled off these speeds at 300 km/h. The pilot project runs for three months on a single train, but Thalys says they’ll equip all 28 trains with this service if the pilot is successful. Each passenger receives their login information when they get a seat assignment, which is a clever way to promote the service.
I’ve traveled the rails in Europe and know that it’s a no-no to talk on your cell phone in the train cars—at least en première classe. Will VoIP over broadband undermine the social order?
It might not be long before most of the UK has Internet access on the rails: It looks like yet another group, this time Cisco and QinetiQ, want to provide Internet access to rail passengers. The UK appears to be a crucible for this kind of service and competition, with now three competing providers: Broadreach, Icomera, and this latest entrant. They may face a shortage of trains to equip!
The Brighton Express uses pre-WiMax gear to achieve 60 miles of coverage at 100 mph: Peter Judge reports from the London-to-Brighton line that although coverage is yet contiguous—that’s still to come—the service offers seamless performance across each base station zone by relaying Wi-Fi in the carriages to WiMax base stations along the route. T-Mobile is involved in this unwiring—which was carried out by Nomad Digital—and is offering the service at no charge while they tune the system.
The estimate is that the 37 802.16d-based Redline devices will need to be increased to 60, or a density of about one per mile, to provide complete coverage. The limit on speed right now is the ADSL backhaul of 2 Mbps per base station. The service switches to GPRS when out of range of WiMax bonding three GPRS devices. Only one train out of 15 is equipped so far.
T-Mobile will charge £5 per hour or £13 per day for service starting in June.
The London to Edinburgh line will see Wi-Fi on all coaches by 2007: The COO of GNER says that the Icomera-supplied GPRS-linked Wi-Fi service has seem remarkable increases in usage: 50 percent more users within five months of adding its 10th Wi-Fi equipped train. That sounds like a story problem: “If 100 Wi-Fi users are simultaneously downloading Page 3 girls on a train traveling north at 60 km/h…”
First-class passengers will pay nothing for service; standard-class pay £2.95 for 30 minutes. The company has added a Web site on its Wi-Fi service, too.
T-Mobile said that it will trial wireless Internet access on the high-speed ICE trains in Germany: The trial will start in the third quarter and will also include hotspots in 20 German train stations. If the results are good, 80 trains stations and all Deutsche Bahn high-speed trains will get it. No other details so far on the equipment to be used or how the onboard Wi-Fi access will be backhauled.
T-Mobile has launched a free (for now) broadband wireless Internet service on the Brighton to Victoria express train service in the UK: Commuters will access the network via Wi-Fi. Most of the headlines around this story proclaim that T-Mobile is using WiMax for the backhaul. Nomad Digital Rail is building the network for T-Mobile. It’s not clear which vendor is supplying the broadband wireless backhaul equipment but it appears to be a vendor that plans to deliver WiMax-compliant equipment eventually.
Typically, these types of application use either satellite or cellular to backhaul the network. A broadband wireless technology like WiMax can support much higher bandwidths. It has long been my opinion that these types of Internet access offerings, made to captive audiences like commuters, are a great idea. This Brighton trip takes 55 minutes and I know that if I had that commute each day I’d be willing to pay in order to be able to get Internet access and be productive.
T-Mobile plans to introduce the service on other train lines this summer, when it will begin charging for the service.
T-Mobile has been one of the most aggressive cellular operators to pursue Wi-Fi and now it is showing its willingness to employ other wireless technologies that will allow it to achieve its goals. It’s great news for the WiMax industry to have a major player like T-Mobile employing a WiMax-like technology.