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In today’s constantly connected world, people expect to be able to access the internet 24/7, wherever they may be. Online access via mobile phones has increased exponentially over the last five years.

onboard Wi-FiAccording to Statista, around 94% of adults in the UK possess a mobile phone device and 86% of 12-18 year-olds regularly use a mobile phone, even if they don’t own one (2018 figures). Long gone are the days when going online meant being restricted to the physical location of your desktop computer. And, as the connectivity abilities of handheld device technology have rapidly advanced, so too have consumer expectations. Consumers expect onboard Wi-Fi when they are travelling.

A national addiction?

It has often been argued that online activity is a national addiction. Jump on any form of public transport, and the evidence is right in front of you. A recent Vodaphone TV ad featuring actor Martin Freeman emphasises this fact. Every single person he encounters on the train is glued to a TV show stream on their smartphones, much to his frustration. Those who take public transport regularly will know that the ad is no exaggeration of reality.

What do people do online whilst travelling?

There are many reasons why people are so keen to get online whilst travelling. For some, it is an opportunity to catch up or get ahead with work in an environment where there isn’t much else to do. For others, it helps to pass the time more quickly and prevents boredom from setting in. Many people see it as an opportunity to do things they haven’t yet got around to doing.

Just some of the online activities people engage in whilst on the move include: reading and writing emails; researching topics of interest to them; watching TV shows, films or YouTube videos; streaming music; engaging with social media channels; and online shopping.

Can providing Wi-Fi improve sales for vehicle rental businesses?

Although most people opt for data allowances within their mobile phone contracts, many are reluctant to use these up unnecessarily, and prefer to use Wi-Fi to connect whenever possible.

Passenger-carrying vehicle rental companies who provide onboard Wi-Fi as a selling point over their less tech-savvy competitors are at a great advantage. Whether or not a rental vehicle includes a free, stable Wi-Fi service can be a deal-breaker for many potential customers, particularly those embarking on long-haul journeys.

Rangy Ilias, Director at Travel SOS, a coach and minibus hire company in Birmingham, has witnessed the benefits first-hand:

“As our international corporate clientele grew we found that many of our passengers needed to get to work as soon as they were collected from the airport. Fitting our executive vehicles with Wi-Fi means that as soon as our passengers are on board they can get online and catch up with important business emails straight away. The response from our regular clients has been positive – they feel it adds greatly to our customer offerings and sets us apart from our local competitors.”

Installing Wi-Fi on passenger-carrying vehicles

The first step is to consider the total number of passenger seats in the vehicle, and assume that all passengers will log on whilst onboard.

You will then need to opt for unlimited bandwidth from a mobile internet service provider who offers advanced, highly reliable routers with IEEE 802.11p capabilities, to ensure the strongest possible signal for multiple connections throughout the vehicle. For quick and easy access, you may want to consider using a modem with a SIM card if the router has a USB input.

Additionally, you will need to ensure that the router has plug and play functionality, and that you have the ability to regularly update the software that controls the network.

Today’s 4G internet is both fast and reliable. However, you will also need a 3G rollback contingency for any areas along routes which do not yet have 4G coverage.

Finally, it is best not to set passwords to make it easier for passengers to connect. It is also advisable to restart the router after each trip to make sure that it is working well.

Wrapping up

Access to reliable Wi-Fi with a strong reception is an essential requirement for many customers seeking to hire passenger-carrying vehicles. Deliver on this requirement, and you can rest assured that customers will return to you again and again.

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