How Improved Wi-Fi Services Will Propel the Post-Pandemic Recovery

It’s been more than two decades since Icomera deployed the rail-industry’s first commercial onboard Passenger Wi-Fi service, creating the market segment. In the years since, fast and reliable connectivity on the go has evolved from being a luxury consideration to an essential service, keeping travellers connected for both work and leisure purposes.

Undoubtedly, the public transport sector has been hit hard by COVID-19, and there remains a need to restore passenger confidence in travel by rail, bus and coach. However, the shift in working patterns that’s occurred as a result of the pandemic has also brought exciting new possibilities. One recent survey found that 76% of respondents had transitioned to hybrid home and office working; employers are becoming ever more open to employees working from any location, and employees are keener than ever to take advantage of their commute to carry out work-related tasks (such as sending emails, participating in meetings, and undertaking research). If a passenger’s journey can contribute towards their working day, and not disrupt it, then public transport will become the obvious and most effective modal choice, while also easing the congestion of traditional peak travel hours. The value of enhanced Wi-Fi connectivity for business travellers is already being seen – Public transport was listed as one of the most popular means by which people chose to participate in Zoom conference calls last year, for example.

But to deliver on its productivity promise, it’s vital that the Wi-Fi on offer on vehicles not only works, but works well; indeed, a quality, reliable Wi-Fi connection can prove as important as seat availability or punctuality in enhancing the passenger experience. This consideration is especially important if operators are to be more successful in attracting ‘Generation Z’ – digital natives born since the mid-1990s – to travel by public transport, rather than using the next modes of personal transport (e.g. ride-hailing services and autonomous vehicles). Less likely to drive cars, and more acutely aware of issues around the climate emergency, this demographic group could be key in helping drive the return to public transport post-pandemic. However, Generation Z are also the most discerning group of consumers to cater for, raised in a world of near-instant delivery of services and with very high expectations of quality and reliability.

With over two decades expertise in pioneering Wi-Fi on the move, Icomera meets this requirement by delivering the best possible Internet connectivity for passengers via its fully integrated platform. As Johan Ekstedt, Icomera’s Head of Product Management, states: “Our multi-modem mobile connectivity and applications routers utilise our SureWANTM technology to aggregate all available radio frequencies across multiple carriers. When the connection from a particular mobile network operator is lost, the router retains all other available connections, ensuring reliable connectivity even in regions with sparse network coverage.” Icomera’s Wi-Fi solution is supported by ICONIC, a suite of cloud-based tools which empower operators to configure, manage and monitor their onboard network, and the Icomera Network Operations Centre (NOC) which can provide unrivalled support, as well as offering enhanced services when required, such as managing Wi-Fi related enquiries from a client’s passengers.

Icomera’s Chief Operating Officer Anders Schantz adds: “It’s important to note that the very same mobile Internet connectivity that delivers passenger Wi-Fi can also be used to support a wide range of other services. It can be leveraged to display live safety messages, track passenger load and incidents in real-time, collect passenger feedback, and monitor onboard systems, for example.” In this way, connectivity can deliver supporting applications which further improve the passenger experience, enhance operational efficiency, and help maintain better safety and security. This approach maximises the benefits of onboard Wi-Fi, allowing operators to adapt and refocus their systems to meet the evolving challenges of the post-COVID future.

Read our new Wi-Fi guide to learn more about how we deliver the best possible connectivity for your passengers…