By Naomi Graychase
March 04, 2008
Thanks to a WiMAX network that joins forces with Wi-Fi, 3G wireless, and CDMA, commuters in Stockholm will get free broadband Wi-Fi access on busses.
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Nomad Digital, the company responsible for the first wireless broadband service on-board a train system (the Brighton Express from London to Brighton, 2005), the longest in-tunnel service (the Heathrow Xpress from London to Heathrow Airport, 2007), and the longest WiMAX roll-out (on the UK’s West Coast mainline, Virgin Trains, 600km and growing), has begun to deploy a WiMAX network that will allow bus passengers in Stockholm, Sweden to get free broadband Wi-Fi access while on board.
Passengers on the one-hour Stockholm to Norrtalje route 676 commuter bus (below) will be part of a pilot project to test the feasibility of broadband access and applications—such as real-time news video–for the Swedish capitol’s public transport authority Storstockholms Lokaltrafik (SL).
The broadband connection will be available to users via their Wi-Fi-enabled devices during the entire route. Passengers will also be able to watch LCD screens on the buses, showing news and weather video clips from Swedish national broadcaster SVT. Real-time journey information will be displayed on LCD screens, as well, including the number of minutes to the next bus stop, time to destination, and connection information.
SL depot staff will use the network to monitor the pressure on all of the busses’ tires, both while a bus is in service and while it is at the bus depot, using handheld devices. This will enable faster maintenance turnaround times. Driver performance can also be monitored in real-time to optimize braking and acceleration, in the hope of reducing vehicle wear, fuel consumption, and the environmental impact of the busses.
The system may also be used to improve security, with closed-circuit cameras on buses monitoring incidents and feeding live video back to central control centers. During the pilot, only recorded demonstration images will be transmitted, however.
The Nomad system integrates network coverage from two 3G operators, WiMAX base stations, and the Nordisk Mobiltelefon digital NMT CDMA2000 network. When coverage gaps in any individual network are encountered, the Nomad system instantly switches to an alternative network to ensure seamless broadband service.
“Its WiMAX over Wi-Fi,” says Peter Jackson, Director of Press Ahead, which is handling the publicity for Nomad. “Passengers receive a Wi-Fi signal to their laptops via a Wi-Fi access point on the bus and then the data is transferred from the bus using WiMAX.”
The pilot, which began in late February, will last a minimum of six weeks and will be followed by extensive passenger consultation by SL. If the pilot meets with success, the network will be rolled out to Stockholm’s entire public transportation system.
Naomi Graychase is Managing Editor at Wi-FiPlanet.