Free Wi-Fi for Rail Passengers in Utah

By Naomi Graychase

June 13, 2008

UK-based Nomad Digital announced today that it has secured its first contract with an American rail line. The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) is using Nomad Digital’s technology to provide free Wi-Fi to all passengers on-board its new FrontRunner commuter rail line.

UK-based Nomad Digital announced today that it has secured its first contract with an American rail line. The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) is using Nomad Digital’s technology to provide free Wi-Fi to all passengers on-board its new FrontRunner commuter rail line.

To deploy the on-board network, Nomad worked with Salt Lake City-based Wasatch Electric. Together, they provide high-speed wireless broadband connectivity for the 12 double-decker trains on the new 40 mile FrontRunner commuter rail line between Ogden and Salt Lake City, UT. According to Nomad, in the six weeks since the railroad opened for business, the number of passengers using the Wi-Fi service has risen from 300 per day (at the start of May) to 700 per day currently.

Clair Fiet, UTA’s Chief Technology Officer, said in a press release today, “A high-speed and free Wi-Fi Internet connection for passengers is a key part of getting people out of their cars and onto the train. Every day more and more of our customers are realizing that one of the many benefits of riding by train is that they can use their commuting time productively—whether it be for information, entertainment, or work—rather than focusing on the road.”

According to Nomad, which has deployed many similar networks in other countries, including Stockholm and England, this network is the fastest network that it has architected.

“Through the deployment of high-speed Redline WiMAX radios, and a trackside fiber network for the backhaul, we have created the fastest Wi-Fi network in the world available to rail passengers,” said Nigel Wallbridge, Executive Chairman of Nomad. “Taking advantage of a fiber optic network along the route, UTA’s wireless network is designed to give a premier Internet service to passengers, as well as enable future plans for media delivery and other services.”

According to Nomad, ridership of public transit is rising rapidly in the US in response to high gas prices and the desire to reduce pollution. The company expects that rail line operators will turn to Nomad to provide passengers with Internet access as a way to further entice them onto trains.

Nomad is currently working on the world’s longest broadband corridor for Virgin Trains on the UK’s 600km London to Glasgow route. It is also deploying networks for the Dubai Metro and Norwegian State Railway.

For more on Nomad Digital, read “Taking it to the Rails: WiMAX on Trains” and “Stockholm Tests WiMAX for Commuters,” and “Around the World in 80 Nodes.”

For more on in-vehicle Wi-Fi, read “Is In-Vehicle Wi-Fi a Boon For Commuters?” and “Keeping the Trains On Time,” and “Boston Commuters to Get Free Wi-Fi.”

Naomi Graychase is Managing Editor at Wi-FiPlanet. She lives in Western Massachusetts.



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