Posted by Jen C. on Wednesday, June 26th, 2013
Once one of the only methods of traveling long distances, rail travel has fallen by the wayside the last few decades. In an instant society where you can get cross country in a few hours by plane, it’s easy to see why people choose cars and planes instead of train travel. Rail operators are hoping that amenities like WiFi hot-spots and other infotainment will persuade business travelers back to the rails. Currently the rail industry offers WiFi on trains in about 90% of their rail operators in the United States and 75% in Europe. Since WiFi on trains can be used the entire time (as opposed to blackout times in flight) and it’s more widely available than WiFi in air travel, rail operators are hoping that they may offer an amenity that will increase rail travel in the near future.
Airlines are getting on board with WiFi as well. Currently WiFi is only offered on about a third of commercial planes in the US and it’s a paid service. GoGo is currently the largest in flight provider of WiFi services. Their services start at $14 for an in-flight pass which is expensive especially on short flights. They are having trouble getting consumers to bite. They currently hold the market on in-flight WiFi services, however in late 2012, Jet Blue released the news that they will be offering free “basic” WiFi on flights summer 2013. This will be the first free offering of WiFi in the US market for air travel. With Jet Blue rolling out their free WiFi services, it will definitely start the race with other airlines to be competitive.
Professionals who travel for business a lot know the limitations of working on the road all too well. You can have all of the mobile devices in the world, but if you can’t access what you need to get the job done, you won’t be productive. WiFi has become a staple in hotels, bookstores and coffee shops, all places where business professionals are found, so why not on airplanes and trains?
There are many benefits to WiFi availability for business travel. On a cross country flight or train ride, you are losing precious working hours while traveling. By being able to access WiFi, you can stay in touch with the office via Skype or email. You can conduct a meeting at 30,000 feet. Unfortunately when in the air, you can’t rely on your cellular network to access the internet. With bus and train travel, using your cell phone service may be shoddy from area to area, so reliability is questionable.
There is no doubt that access to WiFi on trains, planes and buses can boost productivity while an employee is traveling, especially if they are traveling abroad. An employee that travels overseas will be subject to international calling and data charges. International charges can add up. Although the technology is there, it still has a long way to go.
Keeping employees mobile is always a challenge for any business. It becomes even more apparent when your employees are on the road (or on the rails). Do you need help keeping your traveling employees mobile while on the road? We can suggest wireless devices or plans that will take care of your business’ wireless needs.