Kingston Communications Business Services unit has won and delivered a contract to provide the communications service between train and Internet on the GNER East Coast Mainline Rail Service. The GNER service, popular with business travellers to London, the North East and Scotland, now offers passengers using the service 'always on' Internet and e-mail access, the first train operator in the UK to deliver this service on a moving rail vehicle.
The initial order was for a total of 35 mobile SIM Cards to be installed on 10 refurbished GNER Mallard trains.
GNER has already equipped 25% of its trains with Internet/email access and the service is growing popular with customers. In a customer survey, the vast majority of users said they would definitely use the service again and 88 percent said they would recommend it to friends. Just over 70 percent of people using the GNER Wi-Fi service have been checking and sending email, while 42 percent have been accessing corporate networks and 30 percent have been checking GNER's online travel information. Instant messaging has also been a popular application.
The service is also encouraging passengers into First Class where the service is complimentary. (Customers in other carriages pay £4.95 per hour)
Martin Shaw, Project Manager, GNER, said: “We expect passenger numbers to increase when business travellers realise just how easy the service is to use: far more productive for long distance journeys than being sat on a cramped plane or attempting to drive. We hope that this service will provide GNER with additional appeal when we bid to secure the franchise beyond April 2005.”
Should GNER retain its franchise, the company intends to equip a further 29 trains.
The underlying technology on the GNER trains includes a satellite downlink to the train and mobile phone networks for the uplink back to the Internet from the train. A wireless LAN (local area network) runs throughout First Class and Standard carriages, enabling passengers to connect through an on-board server onto the Internet. The service uses both GPRS and GSM data. The Wi-Fi service is provided by Icomera and is supported by network based IVR (announcements etc), also delivered by Kingston.
“This is a great example of how we like to do more than pay lip service to ‘partnering’ with our customers to help meet their needs, driven by the business first and foremost, rather than being driven by the technology” said Gary Young, Managing Director, Kingston Communications’ Business Services.
“GNER has been a Kingston customer since October 2000. We were already providing great value outbound calls from GNER’s call centre in Newcastle and inbound calls to 08457 48 49 50 National Rail Enquiries, among other numbers. We believe that we have a uniquely strong rapport with customers. Because we offer a wide, vendor independent portfolio of services we often become their end to end provider, matching technology with their business needs.”
Notes to Editors:
About the Kingston Group
Kingston Communications is a leading provider of communications solutions, providing a wide range of voice, data, internet and contact centre services to businesses and public sector organisations throughout the UK.
Kingston is a converged communications company with expertise and experience in both telecommunications and enterprise networking, supported by its own 2200km broadband network. As such, it is ideally positioned to meet the infrastructure, equipment and connectivity requirements of modern organisations, for whom communications is a strategic consideration.
Kingston’s national capabilities have been built on its strong foundations within East Yorkshire, where the company has been providing leading edge services to residential and business customers for over 100 years and where it has been a pioneer in the use of ADSL technology.
In December 2004 Kingston acquired 100% of the shares of Omnetica Holdings Ltd, specialists in the provision of converged IP networks.
The Kingston Group also includes Eclipse Internet, an established and growing broadband ISP that delivers internet connectivity and services to businesses and consumers throughout the UK.
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