Ferrovie del Gargano is one of the largest commuter railroad in Apulia, Italy and most of its passengers were experiencing a disconnected journey every time they were commuting by train. In 2015 the company decided to enhance passengers experience and the CIO Francesco Settimo started a project to provide broadband WiFi on board of its trains to allow the railroad passengers to be productive during their commute. The service is provided free of charge to all passengers who use the train service, leveraging a low total cost of ownership (TCO) provided by Fluidmesh wireless solution for WiFi on trains.
Due to the limited coverage and limited performances of the cellular infrastructure along the train routes, Ferrovie del Gargano chose to connects its trains to the fiber network along the track deploying Fluidmesh wireless solution for train to ground connectivity. Leveraging Fluidmesh train to ground wireless network, today Ferrovie del Gargano enjoys not only a continuous connectivity in areas with limited cellular coverage but also low annual recurring expenses associated to cellular data traffic, because most of the data is sent over the license-free 5 GHz wireless link.
Ferrovie del Gargano WiFi system can connect to the Internet via both Fluidmesh trackside wireless network and a cellular LTE router on board, providing redundancy and minimizing operational costs related to the use of cellular SIM cards. During the trackside wireless network design, Fluidmesh focused on all those areas of the track where cellular coverage was poor and lacking adequate performances. The wireless solution for passengers WiFi deployed by Ferrovie del Gargano demonstrates how dedicated trackside wireless networks operating at 5 GHz are the most cost effective solution to provide connectivity in areas with limited LTE coverage. At the same time the on-board system integrated by Sistel leverages the existing LTE infrastructure in certain sections of the track where the system was not deployed yet and the cellular coverage was strong.
The on-board system employs two Fluidmesh radios per train connected with two high-gain dual-polarized MIMO antennas and one multi-SIM cellular router. The system takes advantage of Fluidmesh proprietary wireless MPLS in order to select the optimal route to reach the Internet in real time. Fluidmesh base stations are deployed along the track every two to five Km providing continuous coverage in all those sections of the track where LTE coverage was limited.
“Connecting their laptop in a train passengers expect the same users experience they are accustomed to in their workplace or at home” comments Francesco Settimo, Ferrovie del Gargano CIO “It is a major challenge to meet passengers’ expectations unless a railroad decides to become a real telecom expert deploying a solution designed for train to ground communications.” Mr Settimo adds “Fluidmesh demonstrated a unique expertise in these complex wireless systems and a track record of successful deployments across Europe that nobody else was able to match”.
“We looked at many different technologies to connect commuters’ trains to the Internet” comments Roberto Festa, Sistel Project Manager “Fluidmesh guided us in how to design the system in a cost effective manner and demonstrated us to have the only wireless solution with seamless roaming. We have been impressed by Fluidmesh proprietary technology and by their support and know-how. Pretty soon in the design process we understood that leveraging a dedicated trackside WiFi system in conjunction with an LTE router was going to reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) for our client compared to a 100% LTE-based solution.”