The Scottish Labour Party is calling for trains and buses to offer free Wi-Fi, following the tradition of parties not in power of calling for impractical, but populist, measures. The idea is to get people out of cars by improving public transport, and skips over the fact that public transport in Scotland is run by private …
Wifi on a bus going around the cairngorms? How many users with that get? Assuming that the bus has wifi, where would one plug a laptop in? A train is one matter, but a diddy bus pootling around windy b-roads is quite another.
Still, i applaud them for wanting to do it. We need more rural internet access and if this is the way to do it, then it will help 3 or 4 people out.
By the time they got this going...
... the mobile networks will have trumped them with the bettering of mobile broadband, especially in cities... surely it would be better to just offer subsidies to accelerate that, or reduce the cost of tariffs...
i can just see it
My email should be there in about 15 min !!
Waiting for the bus !!
nice idea imagine how many people could download child pornography though !!!
Has nobody thought of the children !!!
but i like the idea of truly anon access though !
"following the tradition of parties not in power of calling for impractical, but populist, measures."
There ain't no such things as a free wifi
OK, a slight mutilation of Heinlen's comment but still true. If bus (and train) companies are required to install wifi, there will be a cost. Since bus companies are commercial enterprises and get their income from passengers, the income needed to pay for this facility will, logically, also come from the passengers. The only way this can happen is by raising fares.
Now, from the number of times I've been stuck in traffic: behind, beside or in front of a bus I can say that in the rush-hour they're full - at least in major cities. Being full doesn't exactly make a bus the most conducive place to try and read your email or surf for pr0n. Especially on that nice, desirable and easily steal-able shiney new internet trinket.
However, at all other times of the day, it's been my observation that a large proportion of buses are less full - or empty, to use a technical term.Under those circumstances it'll be a lot easier to have a quick download without getting nudged, mugged or have the bus's 3G connection running at a crawl. However, it comes back to that empty thing again - there's no-one to make use of it.
Maybe this is part of a thinly disguised plan to get everybody's granny internet savvy. They could combine their free bus passes with internet classes (if only buses had conductors, they could do that) and open themselves up to the whole world of scams, twitter and download piracy. While this is all very nice, socially mobilising and enabling for old folk, it still won't help pay for the installation costs, though.
Not that impossible
On a couple of recent forays to Blighty, I took the bus from Heathrow to Oxford. Not only was the bus equipped with WiFi, there were powerpoints aplenty to recharge my tired laptop. So yes, it's possible, although I suspect the highlands 3G coverage might be patchy.
Even if the train/bus travels through wildernesses not covered by 3G, it's more acceptable to have intermittent coverage than to be completely dE-mailed.
Wifi on the bus
The 'Oxford Tube' bus, between Oxford and London, has free WiFi (well free in cost, you have to provide an email address). It does drop out every so often, but is fine for checking email etc. Im not sure how they do it, but it shows you can do WiFi on a bus!
Or maybe they could, I don't know, reduce the prices of public transport so that it is cheaper than using a car?
I'm sure that'd make it a wee bit more popular...
It's about time some of these people who produce these ideas leant a little about economics. Centrally planned expenditure of this sort is always in considerable danger of introducing economic inefficiencies.
Of course there are some times where the market cannot deliver essential services. For those types of cases, there are such mechansims as universal service obligations, localised subsidies and so on. However, once that moves outside of the realm of essential services to one of consumer choice (and surely WiFi on trains isn't an essential service) then you are into the area of economically inefficient expenditure.
Electric trains could conceivably get access through the power infrastructure. Would work with trams or trolley buses to if they hadn't all been removed from our cities.
I wouldn't advise trying a 240v home mains networking kit from PC World though, the blue smoke might escape...
I have one for them. How about a clean, reliable service that doesn't cost the earth.
Until then, I'll stick to the car, thanks
great can't wait for the headlines....
Main line Train driver runs multiple red lights whilst surfing for Pron on the in-train internet connection and crashes, killing hundreds of passengers and severing a main line route for a month whilst repairs are carried out.
I have vehicles going past my flat, Post office trucks, Taxis, Buses and Police all make my stereo go BBBZzzzzzzzttttttttt!!!!! very loudly...
a very clear indication of extremely high levels of Electro Smog.
Im not that far away from the train station here and every time a train comes in or out, the 20W halogen desk lamp in front of me makes a crackling noise. its either the glass or the transformer. (and yes it makes this noise even when it is switched off!!!!!)
How much more will it take before someone cracks down on this madness...
the UK has effectively no upper limit on RF/EMF emissions, they say they have but they are utterly unenforcible, the upshot is that everybody is being physically and mentally effected and i survive long enough i cannot wait for the excuses that our incompetent leaders and comms industry give when its their time to be put up against the wall.
When i was at college all my lecturers (who were all ex-MOD) all stated that Microwave Radiation was incredibly dangerous if used and setup incorrectly... (the best place being on the top of a very tall mast... out at sea)
Yet the governments have abdicated all responsibility for ensuring public health and suppressed all data on cancer clusters and health effects of those living near mobile phone masts and upgraded TV broadcasting towers.
its about time someone really pulled all the NHS data up on home addresses of all cancer patients and Cell towers, I'm sure that will make for interesting reading (if your into horror stories.)
no i don't wear tinfoil hat....... local signal strength of all the cell's is too high, i'd need to be living in a bunker to escape it.
(oh and i used to work for a major 3G Teleco, and no i don't have any personal axes to grind, they paid very well at the time, but sorry i simply couldn't work there or anywhere there is such large buildup of Com's equipment is sited)
oh god im burning.... i'm burning..... ;p
(Though it should be all the politicos and mandarins that are burnt at the stake....
i'm looking forward to booking my tickets for the event.)
Not really that impractical...
...given that we already get free wi-fi on many of the bus and train services up here.
...here we go again..
My 10 reasons
1) Car to work and back 40 minutes. By train 2 -3 hours by bus 2-3 days.
2) I don't get rained on waiting 30 minutes to see if my car may turn up.
3) My car works on Sundays
4) I'm unlikely to listen to some ****'s music played through shitty headphones.
5) My passengers tend to not have BO or smell of piss
6) I'm not likely to get stabbed in my car.
7) It costs about £2 a day by car, £6 by public transport
8) I can carry more than a small bag to work (and withouth the fear of getting robbed)
9) If I decide to pop to the shops on the way home I can.
10) If I decide to work 10 minutes extra, it does not mean I arrive home 1 - 1 1/2 hours later.
What's next? Free WiFi from every deckchair on the Titanic?
It's laughable that you can haul hundreds of people hundreds of miles at a time, yet still charge them more than it would cost them individually to each drive a private vehicle. Try investing and regulating (or better yet, re-nationalise) if you want people on the trains. And if you want populist policies, build some more steam trains...
One bit of info probably missed off...
...and let's get the English tax payers to foot the bill! What a bunch of suckers we are!! Let's chisel the land open and push them out into the North Sea!
Nice post, now why don't you go and get a degree in Physics. They'll cover, amongst others, minor things like the difference between ionizing and non ionizing radiation. You're talking absolute crap - what did you do the telco? Because you sure as heck wasn't an engineer.
Wow, this will be useful!
Except for the part where they'll use it as another excuse to raise ticket prices and put yet more people off using public transport whilst spending huge amounts of money to implement a technology that's likely going to be outdated within a decade, superseded by improved wireless and cheaper mobile broadband technologies, and in an era where improved mobile data services and speeds mean that the use of a laptop 'on the move' is becoming less and less popular as mobile phones take over their previous roles as internet service devices.
But aside from that, it's brilliant: At least I'll be able to use my laptop on a bus where the seating is barely adequate to fit my legs in! What a fantastically well thought out plan!
And we wonder why government IT projects have such a high rate of failure combined with such a high level of spending. Dumb, short-sighted ideas that are based on hype, rather than level-headed thinking.
hmmm laptop on Glasgow bus...
A sure fire way to attract the attention of a local ned who will stab you, take your laptop and sell it down the pub for a shot or 2 of brown.
Also, back to IT, wouldn't this be better served by the existing 3G network. I'm going to assume that the minister has no clue how the interweb works (he is labour). The bus WiFi would be routed through the 3G network as the trains and Oxford tube is. So why bother, if you want internet on the go use 3G.
Beer icon, as that's sold in the same place the ned will sell your laptop
On the wires...!
There's a fairly substantial electrification process going on up here. Some kind of induction system on an extra wire ought to do the trick.
I have internet access in my car.
It's called HSDPA - and yes, I even have a cigarette-lighter adapter, so my laptop can get a charge or run on the battery (or alternator when the engine is running.)
Of course, driving and using my notebook might be a little bit challenging, but that isn't the point. If I need to check my e-mail, I can pull over at a service station or lay-by and check it without having to get out of the car.
However, it does make long train journeys (Düsseldorf to Berlin, for example) more than interesting. Considering the speeds reached by the German ICE trains, the cell handover works better than I expected it to: I do not know of many people outside of Germany who can surf at 280km/h.
Oh, and on certain German routes, there is already WiFi access - just not to Berlin (yet.) The trains themselves are all equipped with routers, Wi-Fi transmitters and even an on-train Web and DHCP server (so even if you cannot actually get net access on the route you are travelling, at least you can surf some Deutsche Bahn content.) Not bad for a company that's still mostly state-owned.
I for one...
welcome our free wi-fi, summer holiday loving bustard overlords!
NationalExpress trains from Aberdeen to London have free wifi the whole length of the route, using satellite for the backhaul. Citylink buses from Glasgow to Edinburgh also have wifi.
I suspect that intercity bus services will slowly roll this out regardless of what Labour demand, but I doubt First Scotrail will bother unless someone makes them.
They're not really calling for it on every local bus service, though? That would be hugely stupid.
Already happens on the way there
East Coast mainline (Kings X to Edinburgh) has onboard wifi and power.
Not installed because of some government interference either.
Now in the old (pre-privatisation cock-up) days the Intercity whisked you on to Aberdeen and you could have had another couple of hours browsing/working. Instead you stop at every station twixt Auld Reekie and the Granite City and for what feels like long enough to search for a unsecured network on the nearby estates.
Now if we had a properly run public transport system it would either:
1)probably already have been wifi-ed satisfactorily
2)the job would have been farmed out to some friend of a minister to enhance his stock options.
Well volunteered that party
If the costs came from the fares, taxes or politicians' expenses then the internet access would not be free. If we take them at their word, then they are going to pay for this out of their party and personal funds. I thank the Scottish Labour Party for their generous offer.
What about current major train services?
The current situation - where travelling from Basingrad to Waterloo (45mins) 3G "data service" is basically unusable is pretty darn shoddy though.
I'm sure they (mobile phone companies) know where the blackspots are, but then why should they fix it - they'd only be providing the service you had paid them for. If the phones worked better at least I'd only have to listen to annoying twits once, rather then hearing "hello? are you there?" ten times.
Do some research before writing an article please..
There already are trains and buses in the UK with wifi. National Express East coast has free wifi on all it's trains without the need for trackside wimax repeaters. It uses a 3g data connection backed up by a satellite link (all provided by a company called icomera who sell plug and play mobile data boxes for buses and trains)
Everything ZaNu Liebour do is free for the Jocks.
Anyway, you wouldnt catch me using a laptop on a train in Scotland for sure.
Wifi already on buses
I know that several new buses in the south wales area have it. Never tried it though.
Sorry, but as some have pointed out, this is ridiculous.
1. At one point, round my neck of the woods, police travelled on a bus route because of abuse and vandalism - in fact, I think they changed the bus route altogether in the end. So buses are quite notorious for trouble and thieves looking for a good place to pick up some valuable tech might start using the buses more - joy.
2. Never mind being fed up of the headphones next to you, what about the laptop digging into your seat space as well.
3. @Lionel Baden, imagine how many sick people could UPLOAD child pornography from the (dis)comfort of their bus seat?
4. What about privacy? At least on a train, you might not have someone peering over you but it would be harder to get privacy on a bus.
5. if the reception is as good as the time keeping of buses round here during rush hours, you can forget it.
6. Oh yeah, and they will up the price for this - count on that.
Shite. Intercity buses have rolled out wi-fi and mains electricity here in Sweden already.
Of course in a country that can't even roll out a usable broadband connection to most homes, it may very well be impractical alright.
We already have free wifi on some Glasgow bus services, mostly ones to Edinburgh or the airport. I used to use it to check my email and start working on my to do list for the day while travelling to work. Never had any issue with neds being interested in my pda, they probably all thought it was an ipod anyway. It worked a hell of a lot better and faster than the arthritic, crippled service Virgin charge for on the west coast mainline whenever I have the misfortune to travel to England.
See we're not so backward as you all thought.
WiFi- it's easy to do on busses. Slap a 12/24V-powered router on the bus.
It's the internet connection for that WiFi that's difficult.
But yeah, I agree with the guy above that they'd be better off paying 3G providers to improve their coverage and go totally HSDPA/HSUPA all over the country. They can pay for it with the increased money from the ban on alcohol promotions up here- and, given that this was intended to stop people being as ill/violent they'll have plenty of excess left over from the NHS's funding to use up as well. Not to mention the increase in fuel duty.
Labour in Scotland...
Clearly out of policy ideas again, no suprises there.
Free parking in hospitals
Free university education
... and now they want Free WiFi on public transport.
Gordon Brown, Tony Blair, Alastair Darling - all Scots who won't give the English any of these benefits...
I don't care for politics much, I'm just curious if the Scots pay an additional income tax - else how do they get all these free benefits and we in England don't ?
Wardriving that comes to you
Wardriving that comes to you - in Soviet Scotland, etc., etc...
Two bus services here in ireland already offer wifi
Only in Scotland...
Ah, that would be because that's where all the Labour hierarchy will be going back to when they loose the next election!
WiFi off the bus
We tried an experiemt a little while back on the M40.
We were shadowing an Oxford Tube (@ about 70) on the straight bit near Beaconsfield. It ha
d all this blurb on the back about comfort , etc and WiFi. So I thought why not give it a go. Got the iPod out, logged in to the bus and surfed all the way to Ickenham.
I feel I should point out here that the mighty fine town of Reading has managed to persuade most of the buses that operate in and around the town to provide free wifi on the move to their customers.
The Oxford Tube
As an earlier coward has pointed out the Oxford Tube has 'free' on board wifi. I've found that this service was good enough for streaming internet radio through itunes on my laptop. I was also able to download the install files for an evaluation of Nero (no internet connection at home then, thanks BT!).
I understand it's provided by a box that connects the wifi to a 3g connection from vodaphone. So it's not faster than using a 3g dongle or the like but doesn't (directly) cost you anything.
I think mandating wifi provision on coaches (i.e. long distance, not local bus services) would be a great idea. I don't see how it's compatible with European law though.
(Now this bit might seem a bit odd, but any requirement that a bus operator had to have custom kit fitted to their vehicles to operate in Scotland would mean that larger firms couldn't just move their vehicles around the EU and would so amount to a measure having an equivalent effect to a qualititative restriction on the free movement of goods and so would probably therefore be what lawyers technically call an 'epic fail')
A notionally left wing party wants if to happen therefore it can, anyone who tells you otherwise based on "hard economic facts" or "laws of physics" or "bleeding common sense" is an evil Thatcherite who reads the daily mail.
Another example of the north-south divide
Let the workers in the south east of England pay for the piss head pron junkies in Scotland sadly w**king themselves silly on the bus. Of course they have to use public transport, the only ones with a job are MPs and the rest can't get a car on the dole (yet).
It's time for Scottish devolution so we can stop paying for their pathetic, pointless projects.
They can keep the whisky, we'll keep what's left of the oil and gas (no, it doesn't belong to them, it's UNDER THE SEA not their poxy little country).
The time has come for the English to rise up and overthrow this vile corrupt Scottish establishment. We've been paying for their mistakes for 400 years.
Anybody can see that this isn't going to work. Mobile broadband is bad enough when you're sitting still; but in a moving vehicle, where the connection keeps getting lost and re-established, and with more than one person trying to use the bandwidth, it's going to be a disaster.
When are people going to realise that the Internet is not the answer to everything?
If they really wanted to find out how to improve public transport North of the Border, what they need to do is ban all Ministers in the Scottish Parliament from owning a car for a year, so they can see how people have to manage.
Wow, thanks for that. These comments were worth reading just for the enlightenment that yours provided. Do you dress yourself ? Someone else helped you use the computer didnt they ?
NXEC and Virgin have it.
So why not Scotrail? The main commuter lines would only need the same satellite and 3G access that NXEC offer. I travel between the Motherwell and Edinburgh every day on one of their trains and whilst the service isn't perfect it is very usable. That train goes through some extremely backwater places too.
Okay if I go to google.com it thinks I'm in sweden because of who provides the trainband service, but it's free.
@AC Re: Sighhh... #
So of course your own personal circumstances mean that any expenditure on public transport is a complete waste of money. I look forward to your input on what my supermarket should sell, and of course what you would like to watch on TV.
To those talking down the idea.
You're fucking idiots.
It's not impossible. It's not impractical. Most of you seem to be talking about how it's in parts of London, and I understand you Southerners daren't step out of your safe zone, but if you did you'd find the whole East Coast mainline, that's London to Edinburgh already has free wifi and has done for years.
It's possible because it's already been done in parts of the country including one of the most important and longest train routes in the UK. It's not exactly hard to stretch it to the remaining lines.
Sure it's harder on buses but again it's already been done on some, so again, not impossible.
London > Aberdeen
Used that route last week, on my iTouch was pretty damn good and didn't need to verify my non existant @example.com email address (though, without net access, how could I!)
They block access to iPlayer and such, but i imagine that would be easily bypassed.
One nice trick was on their login confirmation page was a map showing where you where, similar to the in-flight screens you see.
Deutsche Bahn content?? Man, you surf some kinky stuff on those German trains!!
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