CityRail extends Wi-Fi trial

55 gigabytes downloaded by 10,000 users over first two months

CityRail operator RailCorp has extended a public trial of free wireless access at Circular Quay in Sydney until March, attributed to its wide appreciation and success with commuters.

However, the public transport agency is yet to confirm whether the trial will extend to other stations or on trains.

The trial, first reported by <i>Computerworld Australia</i> in June last year, was established in September as a means of experimenting with public wireless in Sydney. Two previous bids to deploy free wireless access across Sydney CBD have been scrapped, intended to provided basic browsing and email access, enforced by speed and download caps.

According to Transport NSW, more than 10,000 users used the free Wi-Fi network, available while waiting for the train at Circular Quay station. The users generated 26,000 sessions and downloading 55 gigabytes (GB) of data during the first two months of the initial trial. Statistics from the agency indicate the most popular users were 20 to 29-year-olds with smartphones, though up to 96 per cent of commuters surveyed said they would appreciate access to free Wi-Fi.

A spokesperson confirmed with Computerworld Australia last week that, as a result of the high levels of support, the trial would be extended for a further three months, despite some outages since September.

“There were one or two short outages over the trial period, which is just a part of the trial process as we decide on the best hardware configuration,” a RailCorp said in an emailed statement.

The additional trial would complement existing attempts to provide Wi-Fi access on other public transport, including the Manly Ferry and Metrobus 10 service.

NSW Transport Minister, John Robertson, said the trial would indicate whether free Wi-Fi is extended beyond Circular Quay in the future.

“As each trial progresses we are learning more about the technology, the challenges of providing internet services on public transport, and how to overcome them,” Robertson said in a statement

“Every trial get’s [sic] us one step closer to rolling out these sorts of technologies across our broader public transport network.”

The Queensland Government implemented its own trial of free wireless hotspots allowing internet access on trains themselves rather than stations.

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