The number of commuters using wireless (Wi-Fi) Internet access while onboard National Expresses East Coast railway line has increased from 30,000 to over 100,000 (January), following the introduction of a FREE Wi-Fi service.
Previous owners, GNER, charged £4.95 an hour in Standard accommodation and offered the service as a complimentary extra in First Class. New owners, National Express, estimate that 85% of laptop equipped customers choose to use the Wi-Fi service at some point during their trip.
The 2Mbps on-board link (shared between passengers) is delivered by a combination of satellite and mobile 3G/GPRS networks. Alan Hyde, head of communications at National Express East Coast, claims that FREE Wi-Fi is attracting customers that would have previously gone by air:
"Anecdotally, major employers along the East Coast route tell us that the addition of Wi-Fi is another reason for them to switch from air to rail, as it is much easier for their employees to stay in touch and keep working while on the move."
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