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With ThalysNet, half a million international passengers surf broadband Internet on Thalys trains
Nokia Siemens Networks, 21Net and Telenet provide travelers with seamless Internet experience on high-speed European railway
"Since its commercial launch the service has gained huge momentum, with 60% of those accessing ThalysNet being frequent repeated users" said Olivier Poitrenaud, chief executive officer of Thalys International. "With ThalysNet, Thalys remains the only highspeed international rail operator providing WiFi Internet access and our customers clearly value this service,".
The success of onboard mobile broadband is borne out by passengers' usage patterns: one out of four Comfort 1 service passengers is a ThalysNet user and access via handheld devices such as PDAs or Smartphones has doubled in the last six months, suggesting a growing preference for such WiFi enabled devices. ThalysNet customers use the service for internet browsing, email and connection to corporate networks via VPN.
As of November 2009, Thalys passengers planning to travel in Thalys Comfort 2 can purchase Internet access prior to their trips on www.thalys.com in the dedicated "WiFi Internet on board" section and benefit from promotional prices such as buy 3 get 4 or buy 7 get 10 Internet vouchers.
Thalys is a product of the groups SNCF, NMBS, DB AG and NS. Thalys is a member of Railteam, an alliance between the most important European highspeed rail operators; of CER (Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies) and the UIC (International Rail Union). 2009 was the year of Thalys' "metamorphosis": 100% of its equipment now comes with WiFi, new onboard catering, the coaches were renovated, a new design and the trains are faster. With Thalys, Amsterdam and Cologne are now at only 1h53min and 1h47min from Brussels. To date, 75 million passengers have travelled between Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Cologne with Thalys.
21Net is a European operator who established the world's first bidirectional satellite communications system capable of delivering high speed Internet to high speed trains. Initially sponsored by the European Space Agency 21Net was the first provider to technically demonstrate the provisioning of broadband Internet on a high speed train, in 2004.
Since 2004, 21Net has been working closely with leading railway operators RENFE, THALYS and SNCF to develop a robust & technically mature system.
21Net is committed to providing a great user experience with high data rates and seamless connectivity based on bidirectional satellite communications integrated with terrestrial wireless solutions for stations and tunnels. Its "Broadband To Trains" system is the only productized system capable of providing true broadband connectivity to high speed trains.
Telenet is a leading provider of media and telecommunication services. Its business comprises the provision of cable television, high speed internet and fixed and mobile telephony services, primarily to residential customers in Flanders and Brussels. In addition, Telenet offers services to business customers across Belgium under the brand Telenet Solutions.
Telenet is listed on the Euronext Brussels Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol TNET.
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The consortium Nokia Siemens Networks, 21Net and Telenet combined satellite, GPRS and UMTS technologies with wireless networks similar to WiFi Hotspots to provide a continuous Internet connection on board trains traveling across the borders at the speed of 300 km/h.
In September 2007, Thalys selected the consortium of Nokia Siemens Networks, Telenet and 21Net after a deep technical and commercial evaluation. The consortium brought together the complementary skills of the three partners. Nokia Siemens Networks is responsible for the entire project management. It has also designed the networks, supplied and installed the necessary technology, and is providing ongoing network operation and maintenance of the network components under a managed services contract. 21Net is responsible for implementation and management of bidirectional satellite connectivity and homologation of the global solution; and Telenet, provides Internet services, to offer an endtoend solution for broadband services on international highspeed trains.
Different access technologies logically bundled into one channel were used under a Managed Services agreement, resulting in a continuous and seamless Internet access for train passengers.
The main access technology used is a bidirectional satellite link connected to a network of access points located in both first- and secondclass carriages. In covered areas where the satellite link is not available, the wireless technologies GPRS and UMTS and radio networks serve to "plug the gaps," maintaining connections at stations or in tunnels. The Managed Services activities also include monitoring and management of leased bandwidths from mobile operators whose radio cells and masts are positioned near the tracks. This Managed Services model means that Thalys does not need to build its own infrastructure and expertise and can focus instead on its core business - operating highspeed trains - and on its passengers.
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