GNER offers passengers 'always-on' internet service

Kingston Communications has delivered the system to provide a passenger internet service on trains along the GNER East Coast...

Kingston Communications has delivered the system to provide a passenger internet service on trains along the GNER East Coast Mainline rail service.

The service offers passengers "always on" internet and e-mail access, the first train operator in the UK to offer such a service on a moving rail vehicle. Virgin Trains offers internet connectivity in its first class rail lounges at selected stations.

So far GNER said just more than 70% of people using the Wi-Fi service have been checking and sending e-mail, while 42% have been accessing corporate networks. Instant messaging has also been a popular application.

The service is available for free in first class carriages and costs £4.95 per hour in standard class.

The underlying technology on the GNER trains includes a satellite downlink to the train and mobile phone networks for the uplink back to the internet from the train.

A wireless Lan runs throughout first class and standard carriages, enabling passengers to connect through an on-board server onto the internet. The service uses both GPRS and GSM data.

GNER is currently fighting to hold onto its franchise however, so further expansion of the Wi-Fi service is dependant on GNER being successful in its bid.

Martin Shaw, GNER project manager, said GNER plans to equip a further 29 trains with internet access if it retains its franchise.

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