UK leads European boom in on-train wi-fi services

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Twice as many net-enabled trains than Euro counterparts

The UK is leading its fellow European countries in the race to provide free broadband on it trains, as the market for services booms.

Even most British resident are probably surprised that its creaking rail service infrastructure is somewhat better than that of Germany and France, with more than double the amount of wi-fi equipped carriages.

Broadband wi-fi has been whacked into around 2,000 train carriages according to consulting firm BWCS, much more than Germany and Italy, with 911 and 995 respectively.  France meanwhile has only 416.

Most of the time the connectivity is provided for free, with only 17 percent of Europe wide trains charging a premium for connectivity.  28 percent use a mix payment model, which allows free use in first class.

The market for broadband wifi services in Europe is set to grow over the coming years, up from €47 million per year in 2011 to €80 million by 2021.

The swift growth in the UK, which has seen even the legendarily ramshackle Megabus coach service providing free connections, is said to be down to competition from a franchise system.

“Competition is the major factor driving train operators to make this investment”, said Graham Wilde, CEO of BWCS.

He added: “The UK has benefited hugely from the franchise system which saw private, entrepreneurial companies take to the rails ahead of the rest of Europe.

“Now, as competition spreads slowly across the EU, companies are scrambling to install wi-fi onto trains.”


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