German train operator Deutsche Bahn is pushing ahead full steam with plans to improve passenger WiFi connections. From this week, free WiFi will be available at over 100 stations across the country. It marks another step in the company’s efforts to improve digital connectivity for all of its travellers.
Free WiFi at stations means that passengers will no, longer be forced to used paid-for services at major hubs including Berlin, Cologne, Munich and Hamburg as well as smaller stations like Trier, Straubing and Sylt.
Free internet access has been available to passengers on DB’s long-distance trains for some time. However, coverage has been reportedly patchy. At the end of last year, the operator said it had set itself the ambitious aim of constructing a uniform WiFi network which will enable passengers to switch seamlessly from train to station to train without a break.
A mixture of poor coverage on some lines crossing the German countryside and the effect of heat-insulating windows in blocking mobile signals has led to difficulty with using mobile phones on board and occasionally curtailed WiFi access.
Newer trains have mobile signal repeaters fitted in them and the latest long-distance carriages to arrive on the tracks will boast some frequency-permeable window panes.
Deutsche Bahn is spending euros one billion on 30 new ICE-3 express trains, supplied by Siemens. The trains which will run on a new high-speed line between Munich and Cologne by the end of 2022 will offer improved mobile connectivity thanks in no small part to windows specially manufactured to allow the mobile signals to permeate them.
In the meantime, the arrival of seamless connectivity from station to train and vice versa marks a strong step forward for the train company in its battle to expand WiFi access across its network.