I’ve often been amazed, even overcome with the fact that everything, absolutely everything in our lives started as an idea. Whether it is the spatula you use to flip your eggs, the dollar bills you use to buy your coffee or the key-card you use to get into your office – all of these things started as an idea. Some ideas are great ones, some are good, many, many ideas go nowhere. Someone thought of erasers….
I raise this point because I will be speaking this week at the Train Comms conference in London – #/ – and I’ll be discussing the use of Satcom on trains to provide Wi-Fi service to passengers. Of course everything on a train was also once an idea brought to fruition and my discussion will bring many some interesting thoughts for the group. As we look at the potential solutions for Wi-Fi on rail, my intention is to provide a catalyst for the group to start thinking a little differently about the various Satcom solutions.
Here is an example: the Satcom industry has developed over the past 20 years from huge terminals to small hand held phones and transportable VSAT terminals that can bring very high speed data services to the end user. This has provided the opportunity for the airline industry to bring Satcom to aircraft for passengers to use the Internet and make phones calls. Virgin Atlantic has been the first airline to announce that passengers will be allowed to make cell phone calls from their London-New York routes. Despite your personal feelings about this (and I dislike it immensely), you do have to acknowledge the “wow” factor. It is pretty neat that you can call your loved ones at 37,000 feet.
My contention is that the aviation model can be ‘lent’ to other industries – if Satcom will work on a plane flying 500 mph, where else will it work? Why, on trains of course! Rail operators already have Satcom on board and the aviation model – antennas, space segment, passenger front-end systems – can all be integrated into a new or in many cases improved model. What truly gets me excited is that there are solutions that challenge the status quo with improved data speeds, lower cost hardware and lower cost services. We can now discuss improving an existing system while lowering the price of using it. Glorious!
This is the type of thinking that spurns innovation, product and service development. Within that thinking, you will find anything and everything around you.
Thanks for reading.