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Heathrow Express gets on-board Wi-Fi

T-Mobile will provide the hot spots for a service similar to the one that runs on the Brighton Express
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

T-Mobile will be providing on-board wireless broadband access on Heathrow Express trains, the operator announced on Tuesday.

The Wi-Fi hot spot service is being rolled out by Nomad Digital, which installed similar connectivity on Southern Trains' Brighton Express route and recently emerged as the preferred bidder to do the same for Virgin's West Coast line.

Although T-Mobile will be the operator for the service on the trains and at the stations, backhaul — the connection that will feed the Wi-Fi hot spots — will come via fixed WiMax, as is the case on Nomad's other projects.

WiMax is a long-distance wireless technology that is only starting to make inroads into the UK. Only last week, a group of analysts claimed the technology would suffer due to poor business cases for its deployment.

"We are constantly looking for ways to enhance our customers' journeys and this is another innovation designed to make using our service as convenient and seamless as possible," said Heathrow Express's managing director Brian Raven on Tuesday. "We know that our customers will appreciate having continual web and email access during their journey just as they appreciate the speed and frequency of our services."

As of early 2007, users will be able to buy access passes on board the train and continue to use them at T-Mobile's hot spots at Heathrow or in London. Similarly, holders of T-Mobile's access passes bought elsewhere will be able to use them on the Heathrow Express.

Precise pricing details aren't yet available, but it's thought that it will be the same as T-Mobile's standard Wi-Fi service, where one hour of access costs £5.

About 5.3 million journeys are made on the Heathrow Express every year, with a high proportion being made by business travellers.

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