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National Express trials in-coach Wi-Fi

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UK coach firm National Express has launched a trial which has seen Telabria's mSystem mobile Wi-Fi hotspots installed on coaches between London and Cambridge.

The scheme means travellers on the National Express's 010 London to Cambridge route will be able to access the internet on the move via their Wi-Fi enabled laptops, PDAs and other handheld devices, at no extra charge above their ticket price.

Each coach on the route will carry Telabria's mSystem MobilAP-3G, a multi-radio system that combines an 802.11b/g access point with 3G data network backhaul. The kit, aimed at the public transport industry, offers net access at speeds of up to 300Kbps wherever there is 3G network coverage. The only difficulty might be opening up laptops and working comfortably on cramped commuter coaches.

National Express chief engineer Gerry Price said: "We are very excited about the potential of this trial and the benefits it will bring to our customers, particularly those on busy commuter routes who increasingly see the value of staying connected before they reach their place of work and after they leave. But it's not just the business community who will benefit. Mobile communication is increasingly being seen as a pre-requisite by a wide variety of travellers on the move."

While the National Express trial will provide internet access to passengers for free, the mSystem MobilAP-3G features integrated support for user authentication and billing, enabling operators to charge for net access.

3G data coverage is available to over 60 per cent of the UK population, with GPRS data coverage extending to over 95 per cent. UK mobile operators including T-Mobile and Vodafone are planning upgrades for existing 3G networks to HSDPA (High Speed Packet Download Access) during 2006, which will see download speeds increase to over 1.5 Mbps. Telabria expects to support HSDPA within the MobilAP product line later this year. ®

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