The Swiss Federal Railways will begin introducing free internet surfing based on 3G/4G mobile coverage on trains by the end of next year. On Thursday, the state-owned company outlined its plans to increase connection coverage across its rail network and in tunnels.
The rail operator will test a new technology next year on the Zurich-Geneva, St Gallen-Lausanne and Basel-Biel routes, which will allow users to surf for free with better bandwidth than WLAN. It says this will also better allow for 5G coverage on trains in future, particularly when combined with new laser perforated windows on trains.
To start with, only people subscribed to Sunrise and Salt will be able to take advantage of the service. But the Railways said it is in contact with other providers, notably state-controlled telecommunications firm Swisscom.
Mobile hotspots will be provided for tourists using mobile phones without a SIM card. “The aim is to offer free internet on all SBB long-distance trains from 2020,” the train operator stated on Thursday.
In 2013, the first train stations were equipped with WLAN, and internet connectivity on the rail system has improved since then, with 97% network coverage currently. The Railways said it plans to increase coverage to 99% by 2020.
Trains are being fitted with amplifiers to boost signal strength while all tunnels should be equipped with 4G coverage by 2022.
On its international service routes, the company says it will install WLAN for passengers throughout journeys to neighbouring countries.