Old Europe Steams Ahead
Europe’s rail industry looks set to make a belated entrance into the 21st century following predictions the continent will trounce neighbours in the rollout of onboard wireless LAN hotspots (see Train Hotspots Hot).
The news will no doubt send Britian's mass of freaky trainspotters into a frenzied state of hysteria [Culture ed. note: A trainspotter is a Brit wonk that collects the numbers of different locomotives. And, no, we don’t know why either.]
According to the latest report from the crystal ball gazers over at BWCS -- Railway Wireless LAN Services -- within five years 625 million people will be traveling on ‘hotspotted’ trains around the world every year, creating a potential market worth $420 million.
Over half of these journeys will be made in Europe, eclipsing levels of hotspot development elsewhere. Despite recent efforts to kickstart the train hotspot market across the pond (see Canadian Trains Get WiFi and Rail Commuters Want Internet), North America’s onboard hotspots face a somewhat cooler rollout:
And don’t expect the big boys to play a lead role either. BWCS senior analyst and report author Peter Kingsland reckons this market is one for the specialists, such as Sweden’s Icomera (see WLAN's Head of Steam). “It looks like the hotspot networks will not be provided by the usual big names,” he proffers. “Train operators will, though, be looking to provide roaming agreements with the likes of BT Openzone and T-Mobile.”
For the sake of Kingsland’s statistics, let’s hope the U.K.’s train operators are more effective at rolling out this technology than reaching their destination on time [ed note: or serving a decent cup of coffee].
— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung