UK is first class for train Wi-Fi in Europe

Commuting sucks time, not productivity... OK, it just sucks

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

On-train wireless internet connectivity is growing fast in Europe - but even faster in the UK, which now has more than 2,000 Wi-Fi equipped carriages.

This supposedly makes passengers far more productive during their waking hours, much to the annoyance of rail operator HS2.

Tech consultancy BWCS has been looking at the figures, and reckons on-train connectivity will be worth €80m by 2021, compared to the paltry €47m it was worth last year, but it’s the UK leading the way as travellers spurn expensive cellular networks to hook up to in-carriage wireless.

Our nearest competitor Germany has, we're told, 911 Wi-Fi equipped carriages, and Italy only 995, but that's still well-connected compared to the French total of 416. Most passengers are getting access for free too: only 17 per cent of carriages are billing for access, and even then it's generally only the proles (standard class) who have to pay.

That's bad news for High Speed Rail though, as the justification for HS2 (the £17bn high-speed London/Birmingham connection) assumes all travellers are entirely unproductive during transit and thus the 30 minute reduction in travelling time benefits the economy.

Should those passengers start doing useful things in the train then the numbers fall apart, so best stick to LOL Cats and Facebook updating whilst being whisked between the cities.

On-train Wi-Fi in the UK is generally back-hauled to the track side using proprietary infrastructure, often WiMAX, with ADSL connections then routing the traffic back to a proxy to make everything appear seamless. WiMAX is well suited to the speed of a thundering train, though 3G might work fine for much of the UK's aging rolling stock.

In Germany they can use LTE, as the local networks having started deploying 4G connectivity, but that applies to the passengers too. For reading email, 3G connectivity isn't bad from a train in the UK, as long as it's not going too fast and one doesn't venture too far from the capital. LTE should eventually make on-train Wi-Fi redundant as it's just as fast, but it will be a while before it's just as cheap as well.

So while Blighty might be lagging behind in 4G, and unable to get fibre optics into more than a handful of homes, at least it can be proud that it has more Wi-Fi-equipped trains than anyone else in Europe. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Mighty Blighty broadbanders beg: Let us lay cable in BT's, er, ducts
Complain to Ofcom that telco has 'effective monopoly'
BT said to have pulled patent-infringing boxes from DSL network
Take your license demand and stick it in your ASSIA
Yahoo! blames! MONSTER! email! OUTAGE! on! CUT! CABLE! bungle!
Weekend woe for BT as telco struggles to restore service
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Ofcom tackles complaint over Premier League footie TV rights
Virgin Media: UK fans pay the most for the fewest matches
FCC: Gonna need y'all to cough up $1.5bn to put broadband in schools
Kids need more fiber, says Wheeler, and you'll pay for it
prev story


Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.