The Gold Coast City Council in Australia has contrived what could mark a new twist in the tale of how best to deliver WiFi along train tracks. The innovative idea developed by the council involves a super-fast broadband network laid alongside the newly built light rail routes. The council plans to use this to boost broadband and WiFi access for its citizens – as well as passengers.
According to reports in the Gold Coast Bulletin, the council has built its own fibre network along the length of the 13km light rail route, capable of delivering internet speeds up to ten times faster than the Australian National Broadband Network and boasting enough data capacity to support 50,000 businesses.
The network is due to go live early next year and will offer, what the council believes will be, “one of the fastest public WiFi networks in Australia”. The main hotspots will be located in Southport, Surfers’ Paradise and Broadbeach. The three WiFi zones will each stretch about a kilometre north-south and hundreds of metres inland from the coastal and Broadwater foreshores. Later investment will spread the signal further across the city.
To maximise its Au$5.5 million investment, Mayor Tom Tate told the Bulletin the council had obtained a carrier licence to allow it to sell off bandwidth to other carriers. “We’re the only local government council in the country to do this (build a carrier-grade network of such scale),” he said. “It’s for our residents and visitors but commercially we will also generate a cash-flow stream that will benefit our city and be reinvested into digital infrastructure.”
The fibre-optic cable, which boasts a capacity of 1Gbps has been fed through PVC pipes laid during construction of the light rail system to save costs. The council has also leased an optic-fibre line from Broadbeach to Coolangatta, with plans to extend its own network south during future expansion of the light rail route.
The rail-side network looks set to become an interesting test case for train companies and rail administrators around the world who are considering similar solutions for how best to supply trackside wireless connectivity.
A spokesman for the council told the newspaper that “The fast WiFi cannot come quickly enough for foreign tourists shocked by the slow speed of our broadband.” The City is due to host the Commonwealth Games in 2018.
On-board WiFi, trackside networks, the growing market for passenger WiFi services and on-board entertainment formed the main subjects of the recent WiFi on Trains Conference hosted by BWCS (www.Traincomms2017.com ). For more information on 2018’s event please contact Ross.Parsons@BWCS.com
This year's Train Communications System Conference was sponsored by Icomera (Gold), Nomad Digital (Silver), Fluidmesh (Bronze), 21Net (Cocktails), LetsJoin (Lunch Day 1) and RADWIN (Lunch Day 2).