This article first appeared in the Railway-News magazine, Issue 2 2023.
Are your customers satisfied with their on-board Wi-Fi experience? Are you noticing more and more of them watching, or trying to watch, streaming video services such as Netflix, Amazon, ITV or Disney?
Customer surveys tell us three important trends: rail passengers are frequently frustrated by on-board Wi-Fi, rail passengers’ choice of travel is influenced by their desire for satisfactory Wi-Fi, and consumers are turning to streaming services in droves. Put these three together and rail operators are facing a perfect storm.
Delivering a good Wi-Fi experience on trains has always been difficult. The challenge to meeting customer expectations for on-board internet access has only intensified since the pandemic. As streaming services become the norm, consumers expect to be able to stream their favourite shows wherever and whenever they choose.
Streaming – an efficient, real-time alternative to downloading media files – has exploded in popularity since the pandemic began. Virtually every passenger boarding a train carries a device capable of playing high-definition streaming video (a smartphone). Some carry two or even three (laptop and/or tablet). Further, the Ofcom Media Nation UK 2022 study found that 67% of passengers subscribe to a streaming video service and the average UK household subscribes to 2.3 streaming services.
Moreover, rail passenger surveys show that good quality internet access on-board is increasingly important to the overall satisfaction of travellers. Passengers now choose travel plans based on whether there will be good Wi-Fi provided – even in hardto-reach locations such as trains. IPSOS passenger research suggests 41% of all adults (16–75) and 64% of young people (16–35) would be more likely to consider taking the train over other modes of transport (e.g. car, plane, etc.), if train companies provided fast, reliable on-board Wi-Fi. Computer Weekly reports that for business travellers, this figure rises to 79%. Blocking access to streaming services to protect internet access for other passengers browsing and doing email is no longer going to suffice.
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Explore how rail operators can give passengers what they really want — access to streaming, high-def internet video.
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