Queensland Rail testing ads to monetize free Wi-Fi

Australia's Queensland Rail's free passenger Wi-Fi service recently reached 1 million user logins for the year, and the company has begun testing mobile advertising to subsidize the service.

Queensland's mobile advertising effort is aimed at driving additional revenue streams from ads, such as on-screen pop-ups, according to Nomad Digital, which supplies the railroad's Wi-Fi service. Nomad's technology employs wide-area network coverage from Australia's three main mobile phone carrier networks.

Public Wi-Fi service providers are increasingly offering tiered Wi-Fi services, providing short-term Wi-Fi access for free to casual users who are willing to watch a short ad in exchange for not paying for online service and a revenue-generating premium service for customers who require additional time or bandwidth.

Queensland offers the free Wi-Fi service on two-thirds of its commuter trains. The company has instituted a 20-megabyte cap on individual passenger use to ensure consistent and reliable service for all passengers, said Nomad, noting that on average only 10 percent of the railroad's passengers reach the data limit.

Queensland, one of Australia's largest train and transport companies, operates around 200 commuter and regional services along 7,000 kilometers of track for over 440,000 customers a year. The company first rolled out onboard Wi-Fi in October 2010, and about 58,000 passengers a week use the service for about half an hour each trip. The top three most popular websites accessed on Queensland trains are Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Queensland Rail.

Queensland's on-board Wi-Fi service also enables CCTV service for safety and security. "If a passenger pushes an emergency alarm in a train carriage, a video link gives instant access to the control room so that security can be alerted and ready to deal with any incident quickly and efficiently. The driver can also see, record and download high quality images and CCTV videos of an offender," said Nomad.

Nomad also provides passenger Wi-Fi on Amtrak, Arriva, Dubai Metro, Eurostar and Virgin Trains.

For more:
- see this Nomad release

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