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Wifi on trains?

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SGB1953

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I seem to recall a government announcement from 2014 about wifi on trains, referred to in this URL: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-magazine-monitor-28198237

I can't seem to find much about this since. Can anyone help? I'm not complaining that it hasn't been done, just curious about how it was or is to be done, especially if free to passengers. Knowing nothing about the subject I would expect this to be very expensive to provide.

For example is it realistic to expect this to work in Sevenoaks tunnel, which I think is approximately 2 miles long.
 
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tellytype

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I seem to recall a government announcement from 2014 about wifi on trains, referred to in this URL: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-magazine-monitor-28198237

I can't seem to find much about this since. Can anyone help? I'm not complaining that it hasn't been done, just curious about how it was or is to be done, especially if free to passengers. Knowing nothing about the subject I would expect this to be very expensive to provide.

For example is it realistic to expect this to work in Sevenoaks tunnel, which I think is approximately 2 miles long.

Technically it should work. In reality we live in a country where nobody can be bothered to put in a little effort to make it happen, meanwhile those like me who are technically capable of putting together a vastly improved high speed network for things like this are left sitting on our butts waiting & hoping for someone to care!
 

apk55

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The wifi on Manchester metrolink works quite well. However they appear to have relay transmitters mounted on the overhead every 200m or so. This may be ok for a small system but to cover the network would require 10s of thousands of these devices. Each one would require a power supply and a data connection either via cable or another wireless connection.
 

jon0844

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Our local council has bought a set of LED streetlights that can also be adapted to offer Wi-Fi (and operate as beacons for navigation) but I have no idea if they ever plan to activate said features - which will of course mean extra expenditure.

I think the Wi-Fi network would be a mesh type system, so each access point could provide a jump to the next. I'm not clued up on the impact on speed and latency, but I guess having all roads covered even with a relatively slow speed would still be very useful.
 

Bungle965

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The wifi on Manchester metrolink works quite well. However they appear to have relay transmitters mounted on the overhead every 200m or so. This may be ok for a small system but to cover the network would require 10s of thousands of these devices. Each one would require a power supply and a data connection either via cable or another wireless connection.
The Metrolink is actually quite good, much better than First Bus's equivalent where I always seems to reach the maximum allowance easily!
Sam

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The WIFI on South West Trains is excellent. It always seems to work very well. Its usually also quite fast. The WIFI on Gatwick Express (Govia GTR) is rubbish though. It often doesnt let you connect or sign in. It will keep disconnecting. It also never seems to work in the Patcham / Hassocks / Balcombe / Redhill tunnels.
 

WatcherZero

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Its been mandatory in every franchise renewal since that announcement for either full Wi-Fi trains or stations. Previously it was done with satellite uplinks which was why there wasn't a huge amount of bandwith and pretty high latency. Network Rail is supposed to be providing the lineside equipment for trains to offer a better service. So it will likely be piggy backing on trackside cellular stations every few km.
 
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Master29

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The WIFI on South West Trains is excellent. It always seems to work very well. Its usually also quite fast. The WIFI on Gatwick Express (Govia GTR) is rubbish though. It often doesnt let you connect or sign in. It will keep disconnecting. It also never seems to work in the Patcham / Hassocks / Balcombe / Redhill tunnels.

Maybe they can give GWR a few lessons..;)
 

jon0844

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Some systems use mobile and satellite, others use ground based systems - which can offer higher speeds but needs infrastructure.

It seems Network Rail is going for the ground based system, which presumably also means tunnels can be 'covered'.

I just hope the speed and latency will be worth it, because once you've got 99% geographic coverage on 4G, and 5G on the horizon, the bigger issue is whether it will be able to keep up with demand.
 

infobleep

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The WIFI on South West Trains is excellent. It always seems to work very well. Its usually also quite fast. The WIFI on Gatwick Express (Govia GTR) is rubbish though. It often doesnt let you connect or sign in. It will keep disconnecting. It also never seems to work in the Patcham / Hassocks / Balcombe / Redhill tunnels.
To be fair the Gatwick Express is a pilot scheme.

The Great Western Railway one however isn't. The North Downs Line isn't included in the parts of their network that have WiFi but in 2015 I found it worked well. So they weren't saying all services would have WiFi but all the ones I used did.

However in 2016 it went down hill. Now I heard board a train with WiFi that works. I get the WiFi details so how the train has WiFi. It just doesn't work.

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rebmcr

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The wifi on Manchester metrolink works quite well. However they appear to have relay transmitters mounted on the overhead every 200m or so. This may be ok for a small system but to cover the network would require 10s of thousands of these devices. Each one would require a power supply and a data connection either via cable or another wireless connection.

The new Metrolink signalling system is based on WiFi technology, and the public WiFi just piggybacks on that infrastructure.
 

[.n]

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The WIFI on South West Trains is excellent. It always seems to work very well. Its usually also quite fast.

The WiFi on SWT is not excellent.

Its good when it works however it often does not allow sign in (especially since the recent change of the sign in page from 192.168.x.x to swt.passsengerwifi.com). The APs in each carriage don't have enough capacity on for the carriage to allow everyone to login. The one hour disconnect it annoying too (though to be fair that's not a major grumble from me). And lastly there are loads of connectivity blackspots on the network.
 

AM9

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[.n];2723572 said:
The WiFi on SWT is not excellent.

Its good when it works however it often does not allow sign in (especially since the recent change of the sign in page from 192.168.x.x to swt.passsengerwifi.com). The APs in each carriage don't have enough capacity on for the carriage to allow everyone to login. The one hour disconnect it annoying too (though to be fair that's not a major grumble from me). And lastly there are loads of connectivity blackspots on the network.

Surely the one hour disconnect feature is a consequence of excessive demand for the installation. I would expect this to be a feature of all free to user wi-fi installations in the future.
 

rebmcr

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[.n];2723572 said:
The WiFi on SWT is not excellent.

Its good when it works however it often does not allow sign in (especially since the recent change of the sign in page from 192.168.x.x to swt.passsengerwifi.com). The APs in each carriage don't have enough capacity on for the carriage to allow everyone to login. The one hour disconnect it annoying too (though to be fair that's not a major grumble from me). And lastly there are loads of connectivity blackspots on the network.

Does the A record for swt.passsengerwifi.com differ for each unit? If not, you could 'manually cache' its IP in your hosts file, and get to the login page without needing a DNS query each time.
 

jfabraham

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[.n];2723572 said:
The WiFi on SWT is not excellent.

Its good when it works however it often does not allow sign in (especially since the recent change of the sign in page from 192.168.x.x to swt.passsengerwifi.com). The APs in each carriage don't have enough capacity on for the carriage to allow everyone to login. The one hour disconnect it annoying too (though to be fair that's not a major grumble from me). And lastly there are loads of connectivity blackspots on the network.

On the Portsmouth line the state of the wifi is now such that I no longer try it, particularly since the last log in variant. If SWT are paying for it, they should stop.
 

[.n]

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Does the A record for swt.passsengerwifi.com differ for each unit? If not, you could 'manually cache' its IP in your hosts file, and get to the login page without needing a DNS query each time.

I tend to use either my phone or Kindle to connect though she I next use my laptop I will check.


In reply to the other posts, yes I understand the reason for the one hour disconnect, yes in my experience can say that I have never had as many problems with WiFi on other routes (but then its been a paid for service)


Last week I managed to connect to SWT WiFi on 1 occasion out of about 15, but then its currently free, so I can't grumble that much, I just appreciate the times it does work.
 

greaterwest

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Does the A record for swt.passsengerwifi.com differ for each unit? If not, you could 'manually cache' its IP in your hosts file, and get to the login page without needing a DNS query each time.

192.168.100.1 seems to still work for allowing me to log in, when the log in page is actually working - and I use SWT wifi very frequently.

When neither 192.168.100.1 or swt.passengerwifi.com load (seems to be more often than not recently) the wifi is still of some use to me as it allows Facebook (and Messenger) to work without signing in anyway!

The actual coverage is amazing, it seems to have very few weak/black spots!
 

Comstock

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This suggests free isn't always worth it.

You get what you pay for. 4G is better if you really need wi-fi.

Yeah that's pretty much how I feel. There are exceptions, but free services tend to be pretty much worth the price you pay for them.

Wouldn't it make more sense to get the mobile companies to put more masts near railway lines so that people can use the data plans they are already paying for??
 

ainsworth74

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However, does any other TOC manage to offer anything better?

I've always found Scotrail wifi to be excellent. Best that I've used. VTWC wifi was good a few years ago but I think it's go downhill since then.
 

jon0844

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Yeah that's pretty much how I feel. There are exceptions, but free services tend to be pretty much worth the price you pay for them.

Wouldn't it make more sense to get the mobile companies to put more masts near railway lines so that people can use the data plans they are already paying for??
They are. Many new sites from EE as it will be providing coverage for the emergency services, while Vodafone and O2 are upgrading all their old 2G (and useless 3G) sites to 4G. Vodafone is also switching a lot of 2G to 3G, but with sufficient back haul so you'll actually get more than 0.01Mbps or similar!

By 2018, expect big improvements from all. By 2020, EE should be giving 4G to pretty much all land mass, so that will mean railways and motorways covered. Speeds won't necessarily be amazing, but I'd expect 10-15Mbps or more. Elsewhere, speeds will be offered of 600Mbps or more!
 

swt_passenger

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Its been mandatory in every franchise renewal since that announcement for either full Wi-Fi trains or stations. Previously it was done with satellite uplinks which was why there wasn't a huge amount of bandwith and pretty high latency. Network Rail is supposed to be providing the lineside equipment for trains to offer a better service. So it will likely be piggy backing on trackside cellular stations every few km.

There's a slight problem with this, because IIRC from a planning perspective Network Rail were only allowed to build their GSM masts under permitted development rights because of their essential operational role for signalling and safety.

There was something I found online a few years ago that explained there was effectively a ban on adding any other commercial facilities, although it may of course have been overtaken by events since.
 

najaB

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There's a slight problem with this, because IIRC from a planning perspective Network Rail were only allowed to build their GSM masts under permitted development rights because of their essential operational role for signalling and safety.
That's correct. Of course, there't nothing stopping them from going through the planning process to install new sites - other than the crippling cost and long time delay.
 

jon0844

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It's certainly not quick, and certainly not cheap.

Mind you, every now and then the networks get lucky..

http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/1476...f_council_s__terrible_oversight_/?ref=mr&lp=8

Given the congestion in and around Brighton, I am amazed people are still upset about masts being erected that improves signal, battery life on phones and reduces radiation from the handheld devices.

Surely since the 1980s we've got used to cellular transmitters, just as we have with TV aerials and satellite dishes (or today, wheelie bins of varying colours)? I see them, but never really notice them (IYSWIM).

I remember Vodafone having problems in a town, which demanded better coverage, but couldn't get panels erected on a church spire (the best position for coverage) because the church was claiming that the airwaves would be used to transmit pornographic material. This was a while ago, but Vodafone still ended up opting to pick another location at detriment to the area.
 

najaB

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Given the congestion in and around Brighton, I am amazed people are still upset about masts being erected that improves signal, battery life on phones and reduces radiation from the handheld devices.
Highlighted the key word for you. That's all people hear - I'd wager that less than one in ten of the population could explain the difference between ionising and electromagnetic. All they know is that masts emit radiation, and that's got to be bad.
 

northwichcat

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The Metrolink is actually quite good, much better than First Bus's equivalent where I always seems to reach the maximum allowance easily!
Sam

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I don't think Metrolink has a maximum allowance.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Highlighted the key word for you. That's all people hear - I'd wager that less than one in ten of the population could explain the difference between ionising and electromagnetic. All they know is that masts emit radiation, and that's got to be bad.

Better dispose of all those rocks giving out background radiation then!
 

WatcherZero

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There was something I found online a few years ago that explained there was effectively a ban on adding any other commercial facilities, although it may of course have been overtaken by events since.

They aren't allowed to add extra retail or commercial office space without planning permission, though they are allowed to add office space for their own use.

Generally with Cellular towers once its up you can do what you want with it, though you do need fresh permission if you want to increase the height of the tower.
 
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najaB

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Generally with Cellular towers once its up you can do what you want with it, though you do need fresh permission if you want to increase the height of the tower.
Not in this case, however. In a nutshell BR were able to bypass the planning process because the towers were replacing existing sites and were to be used for purely operational purposes.
 
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