Free internet planned for Swiss train stations

Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) plans to equip around 100 train stations in Switzerland with free internet access over the next three years while improving mobile telecom services on its major routes.

Free internet planned for Swiss train stations
Photo: SBB

The state-owned railway unveiled the plan on Thursday, noting that the first 20 stations will be equipped with free WiFi access this year, with the rest by the end of 2015.

“I am pleased to offer access to modern communications to our customers in our stations,” Andreas Meyer, SBB’s CEO, said in a statement.

“This complements the reception in our trains, which we are continually improving with telecommunications operators,” Meyer said.

SBB said it will be installing telecom repeaters in the railway carriages of trains on its major routes to improve reception for passengers using mobile devices, such as smartphones, tablets and computers.

The rail operator said it is expecting demand for mobile communication services to grow in the future.

“Easy and stable access to mobile services and rapid connection to the internet have become significant factors in the satisfaction of customers during their trips,” SBB said in a news release.

Three-quarters of the carriages used on main lines will be equipped with the latest generation of repeaters by the end of 2013, with the rest installed by the end of 2014, the company said.

Swiss mobile operators (Swisscom, Sunrise and Orange) are also expanding their 3G and 4G/LTE telecom networks along rail routes, SBB said.

In this way, gaps in the network coverage are progressively being eliminated, which will allow for better telecom service on Swiss trains, the rail operator said.

It is not clear how long the internet access will remain free at train stations.

SBB said it would for a period “not yet determined”.
Tages Anzeiger reported online that Zurich, the busiest station in the country, will have to wait until 2014 at the earliest before its gets its free WiFi service.
The first stations to get free internet service will be in smaller towns with the 31 largest stations having to wait at least a year, the newspaper said.

Negotiations are still ongoing as to who will equip the stations with the necessary technical equipment, SBB spokesman Christian Ginsig told Tages Anzeiger.

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