Wi-Fi On-Board Trains: Key Considerations for Rail and Metro Operators

Our world is becoming 100% connected, with continuous connectivity a basic commodity. Connectivity ‘dark spots’ are becoming fewer and smaller, and as such they stand out to customers as poor user experience. One of the major remaining dark spot environments is the transportation industry, specifically rail and metro.

For a growing number of people, connectivity has become an important factor in choosing a mode of travel. A great deal of train and metro riders are daily commuters. This means they will be travelling two times a day, five days a week (at least). Even a short 20-minute commute (for the lucky ones) adds up to a significant amount of time in which they cannot afford not to be connected.

Rail and metro operators are realising that always-on connectivity is no longer a luxury but a must, and are steadfastly working towards providing their passengers with Wi-Fi connectivity onboard trains. A variety of solutions are available and rail and metro operators need to balance various factors and decide which solutions makes the best business case for them. Factors that need to be considered include:

Throughput

High throughput is a must. Several operators have poured a significant amount of money into solutions which have failed to deliver enough capacity. The only thing more frustrating than ‘no connection’ is a ‘slow connection’. Current demands have reached as high as 100Mbps per train, and are likely to more than double in the near future.

Naturally, a proven existing high throughput solution, with a solid roadmap for future enhancement will be required. With this in mind, operators are looking for solutions that will be able to serve trains during rush hour. A proven existing high throughput solution, with a solid roadmap for future enhancement will be required.

Deployment challenges

Deployment along the track or in metro tunnels is typically a major challenge. This challenge is amplified by the fact that any work near the tracks will require stopping the train service. Solutions requiring dense trackside deployments will greatly increase the project cost and time to deploy.

Control

Once installed, the operator usually desires full control of the system. Cellular based solutions leave the system under the control of cellular provider and rail and metro operators have no control over degradations in service or coverage issues.

Overall cost

Each rail and metro environment is different. Operators will have to plan out the business model most suitable for their end clients. Some provide free browsing while monetising on additional services such as advertising. Others find a suitable payment plan appealing to commuters. Commuter profile, competing transport modes, and added service options will all dictate the monetisation approach, as well as any governmental / municipal funding or regulations. Regardless, the operator will want to reduce its initial expenses. Some of the methods to do this:

  • Choose an option that requires fewer trackside installations
  • Ensure careful planning prior to deployment stage in order to achieve optimal results
  • Use a phased project methodology. Monitor existing deployments as the project rolls out to further optimise your cost-performance balance
  • Assure a high performance level. High throughput, combined with strong QoS mechanics, will give the operator flexibility to introduce additional services like targeted advertising, PIS, CCTV, etc

In a world where the explosion of the internet and the use of Wi-Fi have created enormous demands for connectivity, forward-thinking train operators are turning to RADWIN to enable them to maximise the amount of onboard bandwidth they can deliver to passengers.

To meet passengers’ Wi-Fi demands entails establishing a dedicated trackside networks and not relying exclusively on commercial cellular networks. By implementing the FiberinMotion® train-to-ground solution, rail and metro operators can deliver Wi-Fi onboard trains with the highest quality, throughput and reliability to customers.

For more information on the company’s FiberinMotion® train-to-ground solution, please contact RADWIN.

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