Sweden's rail stations to roll out Wi-Fi

UK WISP The Cloud floats into Scandinavia

Sweden's railway stations are to gain public Wi-Fi hotspots, with the first 55 sites coming on line by the end of January 2005, it emerged today.

All 178 stations are to be equipped with WLANs by UK WISP The Cloud, which also announced today the formation of its first continental subsidiary, The Cloud Nordic, and re-iterated plans to expand into other European states during the next 12 months.

The Swedish enterprise is the result of a deal signed with Jernhusen, the state-owned company which manages real estate associated with the country's rail infrastructure, including its stations.

The deal marks the latest step in an increasing interest in railway travellers exhibited by wireless ISPs. With airborne Wi-Fi pretty much owned by Boeing's Connexion and Tenzing, UK WISPs have turned to rail as a the next key transport mode for business travellers of the kind who might not only make long or frequent journeys but have the desire to access corporate email and the Internet while they're on the move.

The Cloud's rival WISP, Broadreach Networks, for example, has already installed access points at a number of Network Rail-run stations here in the UK, along with Virgin Trains First Class Lounges. It is also working with Virgin and other train operating companies to put Wi-Fi into carriages.

The Cloud will initially roll out hotspots at 55 stations by the end of January 2005. No timetable was given for extending the service to the remaining 123 sites in Jernhusen's care. The APs will be sited on station concourses, though the deal calls for the WLAN coverage zone to be extended to platforms, parking areas and adjacent retail sites. Again, no deadline for this stage of the project was made public.

Customer access to hotspots will be delivered through local service providers, The Cloud said. ®

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