HS1 Ltd, owner of the grade 1 listed St Pancras International railway station in London, today (13 June 2014) announced that it is rolling out ‘the highest performance Wi-Fi in a public space in the UK, and in doing so, is creating the most advanced internet infrastructure in any train station in the UK’.
The new advertising-supported system, which will be rolled out from today, is the first instalment of a two-phase major upgrade, designed and operated by WIFI Metropolis. The first phase increases the coverage to the entirety of St Pancras International - and the three other HS1-owned Channel Tunnel Rail Link stations (Stratford International, Ebbsfleet International and Ashford International) - with capacity that is ten times the existing system.
Phase two, planned for the autumn of 2014, will increase capacity a further twenty times, with the ultimate goal to facilitate as many as 7,000 users streaming HD content simultaneously and provide them with the potential ability to download an HD movie in less than two minutes.
Through the up-scaling of 24 single radio units to 54 multi-radio Xirrus access points, as well as the upgrade of the internal fibre ring from 200Mb to 1Gb - and ultimately 20Gb – and the installation of two external diverse route 10Gb fibre internet links, St Pancras International’s 48 million annual visitors will now have a strong, smooth and fast connection, no matter where they are and of a quality 200 times greater than previously.
The Xirrus access points support all Wi-Fi protocols and frequencies including the latest 802.11ac standard, which can be configured to provide connection speeds of up to 1Gb.
The installation of the new Wi-Fi is good news for commuters, according to HS1, as they will now enjoy enhanced reliability for leisure and work-related internet usage, as well as for the diverse range of retailers at St Pancras International. For the latter, the new Wi-Fi infrastructure will help attract new customers to the station, as well as provide a path to deliver high definition video advertising to potential consumers.
This announcement marks the beginning of a number of technological developments to take place at the station. In another train station first, St Pancras International is set to release an app in the next few months that will offer commuters access to special offers, the history of the station and local information.
Wendy Spinks, commercial director of HS1 Ltd, said: “As a network we are always looking at how we can improve commuter’s journeys. With the latest figures showing that the number of people accessing the internet using a mobile phone has more than doubled between 2010 and 2013 – from 24% to 53% – now feels like the right time to install the service.
“Whether commuters are rushing to catch a train and want to download the latest film for their journey or find themselves in-between meetings with nowhere to work from, this new technology will completely change the way visitors can use their time in the station.”
Greg Smith, WIFI Metropolis, said: “The objective of building a Wi-Fi network with such great capacity and capability is to make even five minutes of access valuable. In a traditional public implementation, you can barely complete a connection in five minutes - at St Pancras, when fully implemented, five minutes is a two hour movie, a few books, magazines and secure access of your email.
“This ambitious project would not be possible without the innovative commercial partnership HS1 has developed with WIFI Metropolis, which is designed to support the continued renewal of the Wi-Fi technology. The absence of renewal has been the Achilles Heel of virtually every public Wi-Fi project globally, which have suffered from technical obsolescence and no money to upgrade.”