Mobile devices have become ubiquitous in
every area of life over the past decade, and consumers now expect their
smartphones and tablets to work perfectly regardless of where they are and what
services they’re trying to access. In
fact, two in five of
Millennials living in London and earning between £25,000 and £35,000 would be
prepared to give up five percent of their salary for superfast broadband,
according to our recent study, “Your Network: Now Serving Millennials” which can
be downloaded here.
As a result of this demand for
connectivity, there has been unprecedented consumption of data over mobile
networks, with many countries exceeding 100 percent mobile saturation. Despite
this, however, there are areas of high mobile subscriber traffic in these same
markets where mobile connectivity is either severely limited or non-existent.
National rail networks are one such area,
and one that has the potential to generate significant revenues by connecting Millennial
In fact, we’re already seeing countries
invest in rail networks across the region.
For example, the UK government announced £50 million in funding to ensure the provision of free
Wi-Fi on trains across England and Wales from 2017. This was followed by further
consultation in June last year, exploring ways of
improving 3G or 4G mobile connectivity across the nation’s railways.
In Germany and Italy, manufacturers have
recently started building new trains with on-board wireless systems already
equipped, while mobile operators invest in track-side infrastructure. And in
the Nordics, the Öresund train service, a rail link between Copenhagen in Denmark
and Malmo in Sweden, offers its passengers consistent and reliable mobile
coverage, despite being run in co-operation with seven different train
providers across the two countries.
Switzerland was one of the first countries to deploy
wireless services on board trains, which has, in turn, driven the appetite and
usage figures of wireless connections. This
week, more than 1,000 commuters will be able to work or play from their mobile
devices 3,000 meters underground during the 57 kilometre maiden
voyage through the Gotthard Base Tunnel via which rail passengers will be transported from Zurich to Milan in
approximately three hours, reducing current travel time by nearly one hour,
according to an article in the Daily
closely with Alcatel Lucent, CommScope will provide cellular coverage for
high speed train service and reliable public safety communication.
All services will be accessible from inside the train for the entire
duration of the journey – for those taking the maiden voyage on 1st
June and for future passengers once the tunnel opens to the wider public in the
There are, undeniably, challenges in
deploying mobile coverage across rail networks, but the benefits are
wide-ranging. Mobile users benefit from the ability to work or play on the
move, network operators can harness a lucrative revenue stream, and train
operators will not only improve the experience of their customers, but can
advertise their mobile connectivity as a means of differentiating their network
from their competitors’.
With advantages such as these, there’s
little doubt that ensuring mobile coverage will put rail operators on the right