Success Stories Fluidmesh enables onboard WiFi on the new QLine in Detroit

Transport infrastructure that accommodates how we work and travel in the modern age is essential, and never more so than in areas that are undergoing a period of exciting development and renewal.

M-1 RAIL which owns and operates the QLine – is vitally important to the City of Detroit. The recently launched streetcar serves an area undergoing $7 billion in economic development, and spans 20 stations at 12 locations in downtown Detroit. The Woodward Avenue Streetcar will serve upwards of 10,000 new homes, and around 5 million square feet of new commercial space within the next decade. In short, downtown Detroit is thriving once again, and the QLine, which plays a crucial role in connecting the city, is likely to undergo further improvement and extension in the future.

Areas undergoing social and economic redevelopment need modern communications infrastructure, and that includes reliable internet service for passengers and commuters, both at stations and while in transit. With the ability to access WiFi services for free, QLine passengers can now choose to travel and work at the same time, or even spend their commute catching up on social media or entertainment services. The Fluidmesh solution allows transportation providers to deliver hundreds of megabits of bandwidth to their customers by creating a seamless wireless connection between on-board radios and an array of trackside radios.

Fluidmesh’ ease of connection to high speed fiber networks allows an equally easy flow of data to and from a data center. With an integrated system designed by Rocket Fiber, the seamless pairing with a market-leading solution with a reputation for stability and reliability also meant that the fully-owned solution wouldn’t create further operating expenditure in the future. Initial deployment was fast, too, at around six weeks.

Urban environments hold their own issues for the deployment of wireless radio systems, as clean lines of sight are difficult to establish, and interference can affect performance. Fluidmesh addressed the issue by deploying radios at an average distance of 500m apart. The wireless technology also employs a “seamless handoff” technique, which allows the radios to predict performance and anticipate environmental challenges, thus minimizing any loss in performance.

This implementation of Fluidmesh on the QLine will be instrumental in the rebirth of downtown Detroit, adding value for commuters and visitors alike.