Railtrack to roll out wireless LAN for travellers

Rail passengers will soon be offered Internet access via a wireless local area network (WLAN) operating at a number of rail...

Rail passengers will soon be offered Internet access via a wireless local area network (WLAN) operating at a number of rail terminals around the UK.

Following a pilot at London Paddington running since November 2001, wireless network provider Megabeam has won a contract with Railtrack to install 802.11 wireless LANs on the national rail network.

When the system is up and running it will provide business rail travellers in the UK with a broadband wireless Internet service. The service is expected to be available in nine London terminals including Waterloo, King's Cross, Euston, Paddington, Victoria, London Bridge and Charing Cross as well as seven other major stations across the country.

The Railtrack contract is part of Megabeam's plan to build a pan-European WLAN network, which it expects to complete in the first quarter of 2003. Ryan Jarvis, chief executive officer at Megabeam, said: "We are rolling out WLANs in airports, rail stations and international hotels across the UK and continental Europe." He said the network is currently live in 18 cities across Europe.

When it is complete, users who subscribe to the Megabeam service will be able to access the Web via the wireless network. Jarvis said users would only need to install a wireless card in order to connect to the service. "When a user launches his Web browser, we launch the Megabeam home page which prompts for a password and username," he explained.

Jarvis said a non-subscriber would be able to access the network using their credit card. "Users will be able to buy access for two hours, a week or a year and can choose whether they want national or pan-European access," he added. Jarvis said pricing for the Megabeam service would be lower than the BT's published pricing of £90 per month for a similar service.

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