Stockholm Tests WiMAX for Commuters
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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 applicationssuch as real-time news video--for the Swedish capitols public transport authority Storstockholms Lokaltrafik (SL).
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 Stockholms entire public transportation system.
Naomi Graychase is Managing Editor at Wi-FiPlanet.