Free wireless Internet access planned for Metro and trams next year
Helsinki City Transport (HKL) is to install a free wireless Internet network (WLAN) in its Metro trains and stations. The network is scheduled to operate from the beginning of next year, says systems specialist Harri Perkiö from HKL.
The WLAN has already passed preliminary tests.
Surfing the internet in the Metro is possible already today, but the connections provided by teleoperators are not cost-free, while they are also slower than the upcoming free WLAN network.
Initially the wireless network should have been opened in the Metro already by the end of last year.
According to HKL superintendent Klaus Niskala, the project miscarried as a result of bureaucracy, when the City of Helsinki did not grant permission to open its internal network for public use.
A total of 110 base stations are to be set up on the Metro routes in the course of the spring. The Metro carriages are to be equipped with the required technology next summer.
Actually the free WLAN connection is just a by-product of the project. The new network will be primarily needed for the information displays which are to be installed in all Metro trains. The displays will show passengers advertisements and where necessary information relating to traffic disturbances.
In the future, the network will be used by security staff, who will be provided real-time monitoring of the CCTV footage from Metro carriages.
Furthermore, HKL also intends to introduce the wireless network in all trams in the course of the current year.
According to HKL Development Manager Kerkko Vanhanen, the WLAN connection already operates in half of the trams.
However, one problem complicates the use of the Internet in trams. Today it is not possible to access the network using certain common smartphones. According to Vanhanen, the problem is caused by the start page technology, which the internet browsers of some smartphones are not able to interpret.
”This problem will be solved when browsers develop further. We are also considering whether or not we should replace the technology with another”, Vanhanen reports.
Even the Finnish Railways VR plans to start testing wireless connections in commuter trains during the current year. According to Regional Director Kari Pekka Rosenholm, the connections will initially be installed in a few new Sm4 series trains.
The trial will not benefit passengers just yet, as VR intends to open the connection first for its own personnel only.
In the near future, WLAN connections are also to be installed in all buses in the Greater Helsinki area. For the time being, it is uncertain whether or not the network will ever be opened for public use, says Kimmo Sinisalo who is responsible for information systems at the Helsinki Metropolitan Area Council (YTV). The connections are to be built primarily for a new information system relating to tickets and timetables.
Helsinki Mayor Jussi Pajunen has repeated the view of the city, which is to leave the establishment of a comprehensive wireless network to private enterprises. The City of Helsinki's IT Manager Tuomo Karakorpi agrees, saying that the current free wireless Internet network in a number of public spaces in Helsinki is not widely used.
At present, free WLAN connections are available in a number of locations in Helsinki.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Helsinki opens free wireless Internet network (22.9.2006)
Free wireless Internet access planned for parts of centre of Helsinki (24.2.2006)
Helsinki WLAN hotspots
Helsinki City Transport HKL
Helsinki Metropolitan Area Council (YTV)