A First Class ticket to better connectivity
By John Aloy: Managing Partner for Passenger Services, Telefónica UK
Picture the scene. It’s 5am on Monday morning. You’re setting off on a long train journey to a distant office, coffee in hand, with a to-do list as long as your arm. But you’re feeling optimistic. Hours of uninterrupted productivity stretch ahead, and you’ve got every intention of clearing your inbox, finishing that research, and joining all those important conference calls.
But the connectivity on board the train has other ideas. Thanks to a myriad of dropped calls and frustrating wifi log-ins, you end up arriving with even more to do than when you set out. And with a bad temper to boot.
Don’t worry – there’s hope on the horizon. With the implementation and licencing of access to the roadside and trackside carrier-grade networks, there’s every opportunity to make strides in this area and drastically improve the experience for end users.
Granting access to these networks means that travel operators won’t have to buy proprietary networks every time they need connectivity, which could significantly reduce costs. Traditionally, there is an inclination for the travel and transport industry to manage their own networks – but as the benefits in security, flexibility and cost savings mount up, it’s no wonder that change is looking likely. My O2 colleagues and I are pushing this agenda hard with Government and the agencies who own the networks. There is huge potential in creating positive impact for both rail networks and their passengers.
The benefits are diverse and numerous. By providing this access, as operators we would act as an enabler in providing voice and data connectivity onto the rail network. It would also open up a new revenue stream for Network Rail by selling access to the network to carriers that want to use it. And it’s not much of a leap to consider the knock-on impact on the economy, as people will become more productive and be empowered to optimise their travelling times, as travel during the day will be considered core working hours with the need to all travel at traditional peak times being diminished.
It’ll introduce healthy competition too, giving new players the chance to compete with traditional networking. This will give their networks the chance to carry data across the length and breadth of the country. Having built the original FTNx trackside network for Network Rail, we are in a strong position to support this activity if it goes ahead.
For me, this is a classic example of a win-win situation. There are hefty cost savings to grab hold of, and encouraging competition between players in the market ultimately drives the best value for end users and ensures continued innovation. Most importantly, there will be a positive end result for the passengers. Let’s keep our sights on the destination – better connectivity for everyone.
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