In a time where mobile devices have become standard in nearly all aspects of life, it is almost expected to be able to act instantly and adapt continuously, making the availability of the Internet essential.
The benefits of implementing a WiFi solution for customers are clear. For example, SJ, the national rail provider for Sweden, credit on board WiFi with bringing an extra 2 million passengers to their service, from whom the revenue far outstrips the costs of offering the WiFi. It’s an issue that almost all corporate, enterprise, SMBs and government organisations have been confronted by in this age of relentless, disruptive change.
The InterCity Group, New Zealand’s largest land transport network, was no exception.
“We had been looking at Wifi for our InterCity services for a number of years, so this wasn’t something that happened over night for us,” says Daniel Rode, InterCity general manager of marketing and online sales.
The problem wasn’t finding willing providers; the problem was finding the right one.
“I personally dealt with three or four different suppliers in the past, trying to come up with a WiFi solution that we could install across our vehicles and provide WiFi to our customers,” says Rode. “Everything we looked at previously was just really basic plug-in hardware. We were going to pay a lot of money for something that really didn’t provide a lot of features or benefits for us or our customers.”
InterCity IT manager Sacha Ball says that what they were after was a solution that would provide their customers with a good experience while still providing InterCity with some control.
“I think we were really unable to find anything that fit our requirements,” Ball says. “We looked at different WiFi solutions, but we really wanted to make sure that if we rolled something out it was going to be a quality solution that worked, not something that we had no control over and no idea what was happening.”
Rode and Ball assert the moment that the Icomera solution was presented to them by NSP, everything just fell into place as it ticked all the boxes.
“The Icomera solution was really the first one that actually had effective granular control. For example, it enables us to ensure that all customers on the bus have a chance to use the WiFi, it’s not just first in, first served,” Ball says. "We can also access the reporting to see what is happening, which all works really well."
NSP Managing Director, Brent Larsen spent a considerable number of hours searching for a dedicated transportation communications gateway that would offer governments, councils, operators and passengers an open, scalable and agile platform to deliver communication services.
“We understood there was an increasing demand to be connected,” Larsen says. “The challenge was to find a device that offered more than just WiFi, which would integrate or complement other services that transportation organisations wanted to deliver, like passenger information, digital media, CCTV or payment gateways.”
Larsen says that when NSP teamed up with Icomera, they discovered an organisation that had a proven track record for delivering communication solutions in various transportation sectors, with tens of thousands of devices in a number of solutions around the globe.
“Their desire to continually advance the technology to meet the growing needs of operators combined with upgrade paths to extend the lifespan of their products reflected their understanding of the business," Larsen says. “This struck a chord with us, and is evident with the new virtualised platform release to deliver greater capability and integration opportunities”
InterCity underwent a major rebrand around two years ago with the aim to promote their focus towards customer service – the Icomera system has helped them accentuate that, as they’re now the only full-service national operator with unlimited WiFi coverage (with some restrictions on streaming due to a lack of 4g in some locations).
"There are competitors out there that also offer WiFi solutions, but we are the only full-service national operator with WiFi coverage on every single service we offer,” says Rode.
With a further point of difference, the Icomera solution also enables Transport Operators to monitor, track and manage their solution in real time providing a range of data in meaningful info-metric dashboards. This additional service has proved to be invaluable in running their business.
Rode and Ball agree that having the Icomera system on all their buses provided monumental benefits and has been a profitable investment.
“Whilst I can’t give you specific numbers and data on the related benefits in terms of dollars, cents and growth, I’ve got no doubt that us having WiFi on our vehicles for our customers has made a huge impact on their choice, their preference and also to our brand in general.
The team at InterCity were pleasantly surprised both at how easy the Icomera solution was to roll out once they had committed and also the coverage they receive New Zealand-wide. This is in addition to Icomera not only providing mobile WiFi for InterCity, but also offering a consistent feed of GPS data across their entire fleet.
“One of the reasons we did hold off installing WiFi units in the past was because we weren’t able to utilise GPS services,” Rode says. “These units, however, did – it was a really strong part of the WiFi solution for us.”
“That data is shortly to be pushed out via our app, so that customers will have live tracking of where their vehicle is before it arrives – they will then be able to use that information to determine exactly when they will be picked up, which will be incredibly useful,” Rode says.
There is little doubt then, that the start of a digital revolution in transport is under way - a revolution that will change the way we travel forever. Icomera calls it the Connected Journey, and it’s only just the beginning.
If you decide to move forward with Icomera, you will get a unique solution that is tailored to your needs and you will be looked after over the long term. This service enables them to deliver the Connected Journey with what they assert to be the best platform, the best solution and the best connection - just ask InterCity.
Icomera is the world's leading driver behind the accelerating global movement of being always connected, providing cellular broadband gateways delivering Internet connectivity to market and offering much more than just passenger WiFi. Their award-winning products are deployed across a range of applications - they can deliver internet connectivity on rail, road and sea and are currently serving millions of Wi-Fi users each year.
Network and business solutions firm NSP is the sole system integrator for Icomera in New Zealand. The company supplies Icomera Internet solutions for freight, passenger transport, public safety, enterprise and municipal network applications.