Money to Boost Train WiFi Down Under(15 May 2017, BWCS Staff)
Australia has joined the small band of countries around the world whose governments are willing to offer public money to help boost WiFi on train services. Last week Malcolm Turnbull’s Canberra-based administration announced plans to pour AU$12 million (US$9.85 million) into adding WiFi to trains and improving mobile cellular coverage along rail tracks in New South Wales.
A government statement said “This programme will establish mobile and internet connectivity along the train route between Hornsby and Wyong." Under the terms of the recent budget, AU$5 million will be given towards the project in 2017-18, AU$5 million in 2018-19, and AU$2 million in 2019-20. The state legislature is now expected to facilitate planning and access to land along the rail corridors and pay for additional towers or signal relay stations.
Poor connections have long been a problem for rail companies wishing to launch or improve on-train WiFi services delivered via cellular signals to the trains. In 2015, BWCS and Banedanmark, the Danish rail authority, worked with all of the country’s four national mobile network operators and two train operators to generate a firm commitment to providing better coverage along the routes. It remains to be seen if other national administrations will follow this example of collaboratively working towards a common goal.
According to the Australian Government’s Budget for 2017-18, expenses for the entire communication sub-function under the Department of Communications and the Arts and the Australian Communications and Media Authority are estimated to increase by 75.7% between 2016-17 and 2017-18; and 9.9% from 2017-18 to 2020-21. “The estimated increase primarily reflects movement of funds for the Mobile Black Spots Programme from 2016-17 into 2017-18 and increased expenditure for the Regional Broadband Scheme.” the government said.
Trackside networks and the growing market for on-train passenger WiFi services will all be fully examined at this year’s WiFi on Trains Conference hosted by BWCS. For more information on the upcoming event please see www.Traincomms2017.com or contact Ross.Parsons@BWCS.com .
This year's Train Communications System Conference is sponsored by Icomera (Gold), Nomad Digital (Silver), Fluidmesh (Bronze), 21Net (Cocktails), LetsJoin (Lunch Day 1) and RADWIN (Lunch Day 2).