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Waves of Electronic Entertainment are Spreading through the Pendolino

Since mid-July, a wireless connection to the world’s most widely used network has been available on all SuperCity Pendolino connections…

V Pendolinu se šíří vlny elektronické zábavyIn seven class 680 units, passengers can now use the on-board wireless network free of charge to connect to the internet with the highest quality available. The on-board portal also allows you to follow the journey online from cameras mounted at the front and rear of the Pendolino.

The Wi-Fi project on the Pendolino is entering its culminating phase. It has been in preparation since the spring of 2011, when ČD specified its requirements and announced a selection process for a supplier. In the autumn of 2011, the company SIMAC Technik ČR, which offered know-how and service for a five-year term, won the competition with an offer of just under CZK 20 million. The installations in all seven train units took place over eight months. A month-long period of test operations beginning on 15 July 2012 was intended to eliminate bugs so that – once in full operation – the system would offer the most reliable on-board wireless services on Czech trains.

Coverage by all three mobile operators

Great emphasis was placed on the reliability and stability of the connection. “For this reason, the system uses the services of all three domestic mobile operators and is assembled from the best available and tested components,” explains Petr Vondráček from the Department of Products and Sales at ČD’s General Directorate. The connection to the internet makes use of all data transfer technologies offered by the operators. It is thus based on the principle of fast CDMA or 3G as well as now relatively slow EDGE technology, which, shamefully, domestic operators still offer in some locations. “The on-board system selects the fastest available technology, although this is limited by availability during the journey. Thus, at several points on the Prague – Ostrava route, passengers may experience a slowing or brief loss of their internet connection. This is most prevalent in the vicinity of Brandýs nad Orlicí and Hoštejn,” says Petr Vondráček.

Nevertheless, initial findings are more than satisfactory, and random sampling has revealed a data transfer speed of 2.6 MB per second for most of the journey. This is also a great achievement because in the interest of ensuring a high-quality connection, access is blocked to sites which overburden the system. This concerns mainly sites for updating operating systems and other software, but also sites providing streaming video (including YouTube). Security measures prohibit access to sites with illegal content, as well as uploads to similar sites over the on-board network.

See the route like the train driver

The on-board portal not only provides a free connection to the internet; from the main site you can also determine the train’s current position, its estimated arrival time and the current weather at the destination. You can read updated news on news sites, purchase your ticket for the next train, reserve a seat or make a selection from the menu of the on-board bistro. But the on-board portal does even more; it offers a data stream from cameras mounted at the front and rear of the Pendolino! Thus, with the help of a laptop screen, passengers can get a view from the train driver’s cabin without leaving their seats. An online portal is gradually becoming a cornerstone for the development of modern services in other trains as well. By all accounts, Wi-Fi on the Pendolino is at the start of a revolution which could yield interesting results in the area of electronic services on ČD trains. We therefore believe that the seven “networked” Pendolinos will not remain alone for long.

VÁCLAV RUBEŠ

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