River Thames ferry passengers benefit from Wi-Fi boost


Passengers using ferries on the River Thames will now be able to use Wi-Fi on their smartphones and tablets, following a deal to deploy a wireless network on a 27-mile stretch of the river.

Wi-Fi network supplier Global Reach has deployed Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi indoor and outdoor ZoneFlex products for its public hotspot infrastructure along 27 miles of the River Thames and on-board Thames Clippers London River Ferries to support the more than 30 million passengers carried each year.

In addition to providing public Wi-Fi access through its own Thames Wi-Fi hot zone-branded service, the firm is to support wholesale and international roaming services across the stretch of river.

BT broadband subscribers will be able to access the network free-of-charge via Global Reach's white-label service. Transport for London, the authority that runs London's transport network, will use the Wi-Fi infrastructure for private services such as real-time location-based information, tracking boats, network monitoring, timetables, CCTV surveillance and other services.

Global Reach deployed Ruckus ZoneFlex 7782-N, carrier-class 2.4/5 GHz 802.11n outdoor access points (APs) to deploy at main piers on the Thames. In addition, 24 Thames Clippers London river ferries were equipped with ZoneFlex 7363 802.11n indoor dual-band Smart Wi-Fi access points, along with 3G backhaul and ZoneDirector controllers at the Global Reach network operation centres, to provide centralised administration and remote management.

Since the equipment was deployed, the network has seen "a significant increase in the signal strength as well as the number of concurrent users and sessions we are able to support at any one given time," according to Chris Spencer, Global Reach's CTO.

In a separate agreement, Global Reach has deployed Ruckus ZoneFlex 7762 outdoor dual-band 802.11n access points on street furniture in Leeds and Bradford to provide a completely free City Wi-Fi service. The service is being managed and maintained by Global Reach for Virgin Media Business. The two companies previously worked together to roll-out Wi-Fi on the London Underground.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.