UK Ferries Get Wi-Fi

By Naomi Graychase

April 15, 2008

Crew members on Wightlink's Isle of Wight ferries will soon have Wi-Fi access on board for real-time GPS-based ship location monitoring and other essential tasks.

UK-based Moovera Networks announced yesterday that the Wightlink Isle of Wight Ferries, which serve communities in the South of England, will be deploying Moovera’s Wi-Fi solution on board its ferries.

Initially, the service will provide in-ship broadband Internet connectivity to the crew only and will not be available to the 5.5 million passengers the ferries carry each year, but Andrew Willson, Wightlink’s Chief Executive says that his organization is “laying the foundation for public Wi-Fi hotspot services.”

Wightlink has equipped ferries running between the Isle of Wight and the mainland towns of Portsmouth and Lymington with the Moovbox M Series mobile broadband gateway, which provides broadband Wi-Fi access and real-time GPS-based ship location monitoring.

The implementation of on-board Internet is part of an ongoing modernization program undertaken by the Wightlink line that includes the commissioning of three new ships. With eight car ferries in the fleet, Wightlink carries 1.2 million cars, and almost 200,000 coaches and freight vehicles each year.

The Moovbox M Series will provide the ships with  Internet access at speeds up to 3.6 Mbps by creating a bridge between a vessel and a 3G HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) cellular broadband network from T-Mobile. The Moovbox offers Ethernet connectivity for ship systems, secure Wi-Fi for crew laptops, and includes built-in GPS for real-time fleet tracking.

“The Moovbox mobile broadband gateway has been well-proven on land-based transportation such as buses and coaches, so it was a natural transition to apply the same technology to coastal marine applications,” said Jim Baker, founder and CEO of Moovera Networks in a press release Monday. “Wightlink’s deployment on passenger ferries is the largest of its kind in the UK to date, and creates a solid platform for a host of vessel and passenger-oriented services in the future.”

For more on Wi-Fi on trains and buses, read “Is In-Vehicle Wi-Fi a Boon For Commuters?,” “Around the World in 80 Nodes,” and “Taking it to the Rails: WiMAX on Trains.”

Naomi Graychase is Managing Editor at Wi-FiPlanet.



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