There is a demand for free public wifi access for all customers to use whilst they are travelling. With this provision time spent travelling can be spent productively by customers who have smart phones.

Using mobile data services such as 3G or 4G (LTE) is an extremely power intense operation and significantly reduces battery life. An on-board wifi connection only requires a low power connection, thereby extending battery life.

An October 2012 study in Western Europe asked 1,000 passengers how they intended to use their mobile devices en route. The results are shown below:

Example: Pilot project for the installation of a 4th Generation passenger wifi in Dubai

In 2009 the entire bus fleet was replaced in preparation for the launch of a new bus network and integration with the new Dubai Metro.

During the vehicle specification stage, in early 2008, a study was conducted to ascertain the public demand for wifi service provision on buses.

The results of the study showed that the large majority of bus passengers in Dubai didn’t own a mobile device that was capable of either connecting to wifi or using the Internet in general.

Based on this research together with the high cost of both equipment and mobile data charges a decision was made not to install wifi at that time.

In late 2010 the same survey was conducted and, due to the ever decreasing cost of technology in general, more than 50% of passengers now carried a phone capable of connecting to wifi networks.  At the same time both Etisalat and Du announced that they would be deploying 4G (LTE) networks in Dubai.

We are running a pilot project using on vehicle wifi routers connecting to both mobile networks.  We are working closely with the system vendor and the mobile networks technical teams to improve the reliability of the service.

Over the period of the pilot we have gained a significant amount of knowledge with regards to 4G networks and data connections on moving vehicles.

The pilot phase is due to end in June 2013 and has been judged as a success. We are assisting in the process of writing the tender for expanding the system in 2014.