Telecoms regulator Ofcom is making available a new spectrum license that will allow train operators to offer passengers broadband access via satellite links.
Some train operating companies already offer Wi-Fi access to customers, which is delivered though a series of terminals located alongside the train tracks.
Virgin Trains on the West Coast Line is currently conducting trials for Wi-Fi access on one of its trains which like GNER's already live offering on the East Coast Line, combines Wi-Fi access technology with access supplied by mobile phone operator networks.
The new Ofcom satellite licence will allow train operating companies to install so-called satellite earth stations on trains to provide broadband via satellite.
This could enable train operators to provide faster and more reliable mobile broadband connections for customers.
Wireless satellite “hot spots” on trains would allow services to be delivered direct to laptops or handheld devices from an on-board transmitter, enabling customers to download content and to potentially make voice over internet protocol )VoIP) calls on the move, said Ofcom.
The cost of providing access via satellite could be more expensive though, which could be reflected in the access costs passed on to the end-user.
The new satellite licence will cover the 14-14.25 GHz band, where similar systems already operate on ships and aircraft. The licence is available on demand, under Ofcom's usual rules for licensing.
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