Free Wi-Fi services offered by the UK’s train operators are going unused by vast numbers of commuters, according to a new study of mobile connectivity on the nation’s rail network conducted by pollster YouGov for mobile communications systems supplier Cobham Wireless.
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YouGov quizzed 2,000 rail passengers around the country to gain insight into their frustrations over the lack of mobile connectivity during their journeys.
While many train companies do provide the option of connecting to Wi-Fi, the survey found a clear preference among 51% of respondents to rely on connecting to the internet via their mobile network operator (MNO).
Asked why this should be so, 63% expressed concerns about the security of Wi-Fi networks on board trains, and 41% had worries about having to share their personal details to connect to it.
“On-board Wi-Fi doesn’t live up to expectations,” said Ingo Flömer, Cobham Wireless director of product management. “Rail passengers would much rather stay connected to the internet via their mobile service because it’s more secure and more convenient to use.
“This is good news for mobile operators and the rail companies looking to improve the standard of service they offer their customers, giving them the opportunity to satisfy the demand for better-quality mobile coverage on trains.”
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The preference to rely on 3G and 4G mobile networks was in spite of widespread frustration over the quality of these networks along major rail routes. Just over half of the passengers surveyed said they were prevented from working during their commute when they would have liked to.
Only 33% felt mobile signal was adequate to connect to the internet, and just under a quarter said it wasn’t good enough.
“In these hyper-connected times, the majority of commuters expect to be able to connect to the internet on trains via their mobile service provider,” said Flömer. “Unfortunately, because of a lack of mobile phone coverage, passengers find it difficult to work during their business commute, unable to browse the internet, send emails or even make phone calls.”