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Train Hotspots

By 2008, train travellers will be spending 420 million dollars per year on in-transit wireless LAN hotspot services, according to the latest report from W-LAN experts BWCS. Figures from Railway Wireless LAN Services indicate that within five years, 625 million people will be travelling on WiFi-enabled trains around the world every year.

According to BWCS, as more and more prime hotspot venues such as airports and large hotels are signed up, attention is turning to so-called 'mobile hotspots' where WiFi has until recently not been feasible. Among this group trains and planes have been quickly identified as offering the biggest revenue potential because of the volume and type of passenger they carry.

BWCS' research has found that today's train hotspot solution providers have already marked out high speed and pendolino (tilting) train services as low hanging fruit and are racing to sign exclusive deals with these operators. For long-distance high speed train operators, onboard wireless Internet connectivity enables them to offer a host of business and entertainment services to their passengers and compete more effectively with short-haul airline services. As well as email and Internet/intranet access, services could include travel information and booking, location-based maps of the train's journey, TV news and programme content, wireless gaming and videos-on-demand.

Along with the opportunities, Railway Wireless LAN Services also highlights the considerable technical challenges that solution providers face in delivering wireless connectivity to trains moving so fast. Kingsland said: "Maintaining reliable connectivity at these speeds and through tunnels is a huge task. So far only a couple of vendors have achieved this in a commercial setting, but others are involved in trials and we would expect the number of public announcements to ramp up considerably over the next 6-12 months."

New technology is bringing wireless Internet access to previously unreachable transport locations such as aircraft, buses and trains. With thousands of people travelling by train every day these so-called mobile hotspots represent a huge opportunity for train operators to generate significant new revenues and to bring their onboard entertainment and business services into the 21st Century. On-train wireless solution and service providers are to gain exclusive access to a captive audience of premium wireless Internet users.

For the first time Railway Wireless LAN Services analyses the players, technologies and business models that are shaping this nascent market. This unique report highlights the technical and commercial challenges of delivering connectivity to high speed trains and sizes both the train and station hotspot markets.

Railway Wireless LAN Services is available as a one-off report or as part of an annual subscription to the BWCS W-LAN Continuum service

Railway Wireless LAN Services is just one of the incisive Market Insight reports that is available to subscribers to BWCS' continuous information service W-LAN Continuum.

Wireless LANs are the most exciting and dynamic sector of today's wireless industry. However like most developing technologies the players, business models and applications are changing almost daily. BWCS believes that this type of market demands a continuous and focused analytical approach that cannot be covered by market reports alone.