You can Wi-Fi on a Train, You Can Wi-Fi in a Plane
By Eric Lin, Thu May 20 23:15:00 GMT 2004

A new survey in the UK shows travelers would happily take trains if they had Wi-Fi. It's becoming an increasingly important draw in the travel industry - planes, trains and hotels are all unwiring.

In a survey of more than 1600 business travelers, 78% said they would use Wi-Fi if it was available on trains. The survey was sponsored by Broadreach, a company that unwires trains, but it was conducted independently. Even if Broadreach could have effected the results in some small way, the numbers are overwhelmingly positive, enough so to show that Wi-Fi is becoming a critical selling point to businessmen.

More than 50% of those surveyed already carry a laptop or other internet capable device with them on their trips. If they don't already bring along a web capable device, they probably would since 72% of travelers said that Wi-Fi on trains could make them choose rail travel over cars or planes. 52% said that Wi-Fi could make their travel time more productive.

It's not just trains, either. Wi-Fi is becoming a draw, as well as an important decision factor for travelers. Earlier David reported that studies show Wi-Fi is taking off in hotels. And talk about taking off, Lufthansa is now the first airline to offer in-flight Wi-Fi on their LA - Munich non-stop.

Broadreach will be conducting trials on a few long-distance routes in the UK this year, with hopes of expanding to 700 trains across the UK. Other railways are also trialing similar technology. More airlines are reportedly interested in in-flight Wi-Fi though few have actually committed to ordering equipment. Travelers trapped in cabin or carriage for hours at a time are probably the population who could use Wi-Fi the most. In fact in Broadreach's survey, they found the longer the trip was, the more people wanted Wi-Fi access. These people are also probably more willing to pay for Wi-Fi since it's not like they can go around the corner and get it for free, nor are most information workers going to go without net access if it's available.