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Technology / Hardware

Full speed ahead on-board ScotRail as Cisco develops super-fast WiFi

Cisco and Partners have announced the development of super-fast Wi-Fi on-board trains across Scotland to better passenger experience.

Funded by Innovate UK and RSSB the trial will bring together CGI, Network Rail Telecoms and Wittos to work in collaboration with Cisco, users will be able to experience internet speeds of up to 300Mbps on the go.

ScotRail will trial the fastest in-train Wi-Fi service in the world as part of the Superfast Wi-Fi in-carriage-for Future (SWIFT) project, aiming to deliver top quality and high speed Wi-Fi along the train paths between Glasgow and Edinburgh on an 18-month trial.

Full speed ahead on-board ScotRail as Cisco develop super-fast WiFi
ScotRail takes on-board super-fast WiFi with Cisco

Currently, train passengers travelling between Scotland’s two biggest cities Glasgow and Edinburgh receive less than 10% of that potential on the go. The increased Wi-Fi speed will allow travellers to stream a music service uninterrupted and download programmes within two minutes.

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Across existing on-board train mobile services a total of 33% of internet enquiries failed, not just affecting users but industries across the UK. For example, due to lack of internet hours of productivity is lost, online shopping opportunities are limited and unsatisfied passengers. Therefore, having efficient internet technology provides a huge opportunity for the UK as a whole.

Scot Gardner, Chief Executive, Cisco UK & Ireland, said: “Project SWIFT embodies the art of the possible. If the UK is to truly benefit from what digital technologies have to offer, then connectivity has to be a given – even when travelling at 140mph.

“If only a fraction of the time that we spend travelling is made more productive, the potential for commuters, the train companies and the UK as a whole is immense.”

With around 40% of train routes encountering numerous tunnels, cuttings and black-sports across the UK, the use of 3G/4G networks along trainline’s are blocked.

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According to a recent report by National Infrastructure Commission revealed the UK falls behind the majority of countries across the UK for 4G coverage, behind South Korea, USA, Greece, Souh Africa, Denmark and China.

Rob Shorthouse, ScotRail Alliance Communications Director said: “We are delighted to be a part of this project. Our customers consistently tell us that one of the things that they expect on their journey is fast, reliable Wi-Fi.

This pilot scheme, which we are undertaking on behalf of the entire rail industry, will allow us to fully understand how we take our current on-train WiFi to the next level.”

The trial is expected to begin later this year, until the end of March in 2018.
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