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BDUK Gifts Northern Rail GBP750k for On-board Train FREE WiFi Upgrade

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015 (7:43 am) - Score 851

Commuters travelling on Northern Rail’s trains from Leeds and Bradford (England) can now access free on-board wireless Internet (WiFi) connectivity thanks to a new scheme that has been funded by £750,000 from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK programme. This appears to be the first on-train scheme that BDUK has funded.

The joint initiative between Northern Rail, Leeds City Council, City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council, BDUK and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority means that those who travel using Northern’s electric trains, which operate between Leeds – Skipton and Ilkley – Bradford Forster Square, can now access a 20Mbps capable free WiFi network with “unlimited entertainment“.

Apparently the “high-quality” entertainment content, which includes audiobooks from Audible, games, music, local and national news and even some popular TV shows streamed via Sky’s NOW TV platform, comes courtesy of content provider Spoken Ink and in order to support better performance much of this will be stored (cached) locally on Icomera’s on-board hardware (i.e. no need to gobble valuable Internet bandwidth for every repeat stream).

Rob Warnes, Planning and Programmes Director for Northern, said:

We’ve seen a great take up in the on-board WiFi, registering over 100,000 users so far and customers have been telling us they love the speed as well as the content.”

Ed Vaizey MP, Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy, said:

Providing free WiFi on public transport and in public spaces is just one of the ways we’re boosting connectivity across our cities. It is great to see the positive impact this is already having for commuters in Bradford and Leeds. With continued investment in superfast broadband we will ensure our cities continue to be attractive places to live, visit and do business in.”

It should be noted that the new funding stems from the BDUK managed Urban Broadband Fund and its “Super-Connected Cities” programme, rather than from the semi-separate “rural” broadband budget that is governed by the same office. Never the less some will no doubt feel that such money could be better spent elsewhere.

Otherwise we note that the related press release mentions “20MB” for MegaBytes per second, when it should probably have expressed that as 20Mb for Megabits. Not a big problem, after all it only represents eight times the speed difference.

Leave a Comment
12 Responses
  1. Avatar TheManStan says:

    Doesn’t this go beyond the remit of BDUK?

    This looks like a nice to have rather than solving the issues of poor BB connections in urban areas… elimination of BB gaps should be a priority over this kind of project.

    1. Avatar No Clue says:

      Better than overbuilding areas.

    2. Avatar TheFacts says:

      You should contact the relevant council for an explanation.

    3. Avatar TheManStan says:

      Better to overbuild an area to eliminate gaps than to spend on something that does nothing to solve the main problem facing BB consumers.

    4. Avatar No Clue says:

      Erm if you “overbuild” how is that eliminating “gaps”?

    5. Avatar TheManStan says:

      reply below

  2. Avatar adslmax says:

    Free WiFi on trains is always congested.

  3. Avatar TheManStan says:

    Erm… Overbuild means to build on top of existing infrastructure.

    VM abuts an area which has no fast BB. OR puts in a FTTC cabinet, this covers the gap and VM area. That is overbuild.

    1. Avatar No Clue says:

      That is not what is happening though, BT have been using tax payers money to rollout in areas that already have services. That is what overbuild is, BT overbuilding in an area which already has a “superfast 24+Mb” capable network.

      They have did it to a B4RN project, they have done it down in Kent and they have overbuilt with tax payers money in Essex.

      Id sooner my tax payers money is spent on a service be it fixed land line, Public transport internet schemes or basically anything else where they is no current decent service.

      Areas which were a mish mash of have and have nots were initially meant to be done under BTs commercial scheme. Instead of filling in the odd street which may not have coverage they often roll out with tax payer money to the whole town, or in the case of Essex basically the entire county that already had a 24+Mb product.

    2. Avatar themanstan says:

      Which is this instance is a cut your nose to spite your face attitude.

      It´s irrelevant which company is delivering the service, that´s not the issue, it´s financial responsibility.

      The issue is priority of the project to deliver proper BB to businesses and residential consumers. This is a clear case of not economical use of funds, these funds could have given up to almost 4,000 households and businesses the option of some form of usable BB. And probably half that for gap filling.

      The vast majority of users of this service will simply use it for Facebook… a real benefit to the local economy… sic. the fact that the article highlights it´s entertainment value…

    3. Avatar No Clue says:

      “It´s irrelevant which company is delivering the service, that´s not the issue, it´s financial responsibility.”

      Of which BT had none with their rollout in Essex where a 24Mb+ service already existed.

      Choice is good, wasting money to just give choice for choice sake is not.

  4. Avatar anon says:

    Yet the West Coast Mainline (London Midland in particular) remains unusuable for much of the journey. Especially if you’re on on Vodafone.

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