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Tenders and Workplans

Pilot phase beginning for High-Speed Broadband on Thalys trains

21 Apr 2005

Train travellers journeying between Brussels and Paris are now getting more than a just smooth fast ride. Thanks to support from ESA Telecom, the UK based company 21Net has begun a pilot service bringing High-Speed Broadband Internet access to all passengers taking a trip on Thalys.

The initial 3-month pilot phase is underway, and will test the performance of the technology as well as gather customer impressions. The technology allows passengers aboard one of the trains on the Brussels-Paris line to connect to the Internet with Wi-Fi enabled laptops. The system developed by 21Net, ensures that all passengers on each carriage receive equal access to the data flow.

Wi-Fi Internet Inside

21Net antenna

This connection is made through a tracking antenna located on the train itself. This innovative satellite-tracking antenna design includes specially developed software that maintains a link with the host satellite even while travelling at high speed and for long distances.

The system includes onboard video servers, providing news, weather reports and even films; all streamed straight to a passengers' laptop.

"Everyone is eager to begin accessing the Internet onboard trains," explains Mr Fermin Alvarez Lopez of ESA Telecom. 21Net's technology is certainly making this become a reality. And the collaboration between all involved is clearly a strength of the project."

Internet onboard trains

"Improving the travel experience

"This quickly emerging need to access Internet while on the move requires flexible solutions. Having access to e-Mail or Web-browsing at both reasonable speeds and costs enormously improves what is called 'the travel experience'. Putting industry, service providers, train operators and of course passengers in a win-win situation," states Mr Alvarez Lopez.

Beyond this pilot project ESA is interested in actively promoting a European wide initiative to facilitate the uptake and subsequent consolidation of broadband Internet to trains opportunity. In this respect, ESA is coordinating a forum of train operators to promote pan-European solutions.

To read more about 21Net's project 'Broadband to Trains' just click on the links provided on the right of this page.

All images ESA - Philippe Sebirot

Last Update: 14 Aug 2008
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