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Author Topic: "free wi-fi on trains across England and Wales from 2017"  (Read 7034 times)
stuving
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« Reply #15 on: January 07, 2018, 09:56:52 am »

I'm still looking for hard data about this plan to provide on-board Wifi and mobile phone services via a radio link to a kind of base station that NR will install on GSM-R masts. The fibre network that would connect those boxes to the world has mostly been built already. I can't find anything to tell me how far the plan has got. That may be partly because I do not know what it is called (my friend Google is so very literal-minded).
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Has anyone else seen anything at all concrete? I've even tried looking for technical articles on how LTE would be used in this application - on the grounds it should be at least a partly-open standard - but found nothing about the UK.

Well, after a bit of a delay, I have found an answer to my questions - it's called project SWIFT. From ISPreview UK:
Quote
ScotRail Trains Test up to 300Mbps “Superfast” On-Board Wi-Fi Service
Monday, September 18th, 2017

Scottish train operator ScotRail has partnered up with Cisco, CGI, Network Rail Telecoms and Wittos to conduct a Proof of Concept trial to enable “super-fast” WiFi on trains (Project SWIFT), which could offer data speeds of up to 300Mbps (allegedly the “fastest in-train Wi-Fi service in the world“).
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The intention behind Project SWIFT, which is being funded by the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) and Innovate UK, is to provide a viable alternative that can offer “internet speeds on the go” of up to 300Mbps (Megabits per second). Currently, those travelling by train between Scotland’s two biggest cities can apparently only “access less than 10% of that capability” (note: c.30Mbps still sounds pretty good for a train but that capacity has to be shared between many users).

At present the new technology has only been implemented on a full-scale train at a test track in Stratford-upon-Avon, although it will now see a “limited duration roll-out” on one of the current fleet of ScotRail trains that operate services between Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The project will utilise existing trackside fibre optic cable to backhaul data from trackside masts. The masts will use unlicensed Wi-Fi spectrum to connect trains to the fibre, with a lossless session handover between masts as low as 2ms (milliseconds). Both existing and newly installed masts will be used along the Edinburgh-Glasgow route to ensure that consistent coverage can be trialled along the line, regardless of tunnels and cuttings.
...
The proof of concept trial will commence later this year, and run until the end of March 2018. After that a decision will be made about whether or not to roll-out the service to more trains, not only in Scotland but also other parts of the United Kingdom.

Project SWIFT hopes to highlight how high-speed in-carriage connectivity will improve the experience for passengers and help train operators provide better, more reliable and profitable services. The project will also investigate what becomes possible when you add data and insight to connections.

So it seems that Network Rail went to talk to the parties concerned with the other bits of their proposed system, on the train and elsewhere, and did not find a single ready-made solution. So they have looked for a partner, and found Cisco, which is a bit of a surprise as they are not known as a radio company. I have not found anything to tell me what the radio link is - I presume "LTE" is still likely to be the label, though it's not very specific, and one source said "unlicensed spectrum" (likewise).

« Last Edit: February 12, 2018, 02:19:02 pm by stuving » Logged
stuving
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« Reply #16 on: January 07, 2018, 10:08:05 am »

On a rather more depressing note, more net/web/phone access on trains means more of being a captive audience for what other people want to get out of you. From 1to1.link:
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Project SWIFT Open Innovation Challenge

The Project SWIFT Open Innovation Challenge is an exciting part of the Innovate UK & RSSB project enabling super-fast Wi-Fi on trains. The objective is to enhance passenger experience in rail travel and Project SWIFT is looking for SMEs to join the ride.

As the first project of its kind, the Project SWIFT project will utilise existing trackside fibre to enable Wi-Fi backhaul, which will require advanced service management and session handover at a minimal 2 milliseconds. Besides aiming to provide 300MB of consistent connectivity, which has to date only been demonstrated in lab environments, Project SWIFT will launch the scotrail.1to1.link, a WiFi connected app store providing real-time open APIs powered by Wittos Connected Intelligence platform. The 1to1.link platform opens opportunities to digitally connect and engage with onboard passengers in a whole new way.

The Project SWIFT Open Innovation Challenge is looking for developers to build applications to leverage the 1to1.link open API platform to address three problem statements in the areas of destination marketing, disruption management & wildcard. You will be able to access a unique set of real-time APIs and engage with a cross-section of stakeholders during an 8-week virtual incubator.

This proof of concept project is a collaboration between consortium partners: ScotRail, Cisco, Level 3 Communications, CGI, Wittos, Intersection Analytics.

Sign up now for access to the Project SWIFT Open Innovation Challenge API and sample data

There's a prize for anyone who knows what "the areas of destination marketing, disruption management & wildcard" are in this context (from 1to1.link, not me, obviously).
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Electric train
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« Reply #17 on: January 07, 2018, 02:19:00 pm »

It would be great if SE Trains and GTR even contemplated fitting WiFi, travellers on GWR by and large have a reasonably good free WiFi if you use Virgin Westcoast as a standard passenger you have to pay for WiFi.

The DfT on the Thameslink Class 700 failed to specify passenger WiFi in the procurement spec despite Siemens and at the FCC pointing out the folly of their ways ..................... now DfT are having to pay Siemens to retro fit WiFi and GTR to operate it ................... oh an pay NR to crash fit the infrastructure ................. you just cannot make this stuff up
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Mark Carne 26 June 2015 - "The challenges of delivering myriad improvement projects while still running a railway seven days a week were simply overwhelming".
ChrisB
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« Reply #18 on: January 08, 2018, 08:47:02 pm »

Virgin West Coast now provide free wifi I understand as long as you book through their own website
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Electric train
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« Reply #19 on: January 08, 2018, 10:37:11 pm »

Virgin West Coast now provide free wifi I understand as long as you book through their own website

Which is pants compared to GWR.

Note the cuddly warm approach to travellers of a certain non-dom  Roll Eyes
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Mark Carne 26 June 2015 - "The challenges of delivering myriad improvement projects while still running a railway seven days a week were simply overwhelming".
ChrisB
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« Reply #20 on: January 09, 2018, 09:34:13 am »

Actually, their wifivid far more stable and unrestricted than GWRs is.
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TaplowGreen
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« Reply #21 on: January 09, 2018, 09:48:59 am »

Actually, their wifivid far more stable and unrestricted than GWRs is.

I agree, GWR's is often hopeless.
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Sixty3Closure
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« Reply #22 on: February 26, 2018, 12:44:14 pm »

I used it for the first time coming back from Swansea last week and it was good at the start of the journey. Less so later on. I don't know if that was because the train was packed or I'd used up my data allowance. I wasn't really paying attention but I think it said after 15Mb of data it would be throttled. I did read that first as 15mbs download but pretty sure it was data. Not a very generous amount and I don't know how much it throttled it back after hitting that.
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ChrisB
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« Reply #23 on: February 26, 2018, 01:01:01 pm »

its data. And the throttled speed depends on the number accessing the wifi at the time.

Either way, if you have 4G, it's quicker when available.
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grahame
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« Reply #24 on: February 26, 2018, 01:04:14 pm »

... said after 15Mb of data it would be throttled ...Not a very generous amount and I don't know how much it throttled it back after hitting that.

I wonder at the graphic of the IET that comes up as you log in, and the advert for 1st class upgrades (on a 158 too!) and wonder if they include that in your allowance.    Strikes me that with a simpler login screen with less graphic content, more WiFi capacity might just be available for the 'real use' ...
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