Understanding on-the-go wi-fi service

Published on May 24, 2013 in Fleet Management by Geotab


Wi-Fi service is becoming an integral part of planes, trains, and automobiles, via 3G-Wi-Fi router or by making a hotspot with your smartphone.

Wi-Fi is everywhere – from homes, workplaces, community libraries, to local coffee shops, and it’s bringing some much-needed convenience to our busy on-the-go lives. While we are dependent on cellular network connectivity through 3G or CDMA, for instance, there is greater emphasis placed on Wi-Fi applications and products that are also available for use in planes, trains, and automobiles.

Wi-Fi is finding its way into the automotive applications, where a hotspot can be setup in the vehicle that allows passengers to stay connected while travelling. One of the most popular products that nearly all carriers provide includes the 3G-Wi-Fi router. In more technical terms, the device’s wide-area-network (WAN) side use a 3G or CDMA service to connect to the internet, while the local-area-network (LAN) side provides Wi-Fi access to the devices in the car. All Wi-Fi enabled products, such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones can access the internet through this router. The physical size can also be as small as your business card. In addition to vehicles, many trains also provide Wi-Fi access. For instance, VIA Rail Canada has installed 8 antennas in each train set.

Another way to set-up in-vehicle Wi-Fi service is to create a hotspot with your smartphone. This technology is very similar to the router option, with the main difference being that it uses software to make the handset perform like a router. Some of today’s latest vehicles have built-in hotspots that can be enabled through a data subscription plan.

While Wi-Fi is getting into the vehicle, it is also become an integral part of airplanes. Since 3G and CDMA technology is not available inside aircrafts, the majority of US airlines have started to provide in-flight Wi-Fi service to their customers to help them stay connected through emails and social media. Satellite or ground base station networks are typically used, with the biggest player in the air-to-ground field – GoGo.

With telematics technology, Internet coverage is typically provided by carriers such as AT&T, Sprint, and Rogers. With this, customers have instant access into real-time data. While Wi-Fi hotspot locations can ensure that vehicle data is uploaded on bulk, greater opportunities for constant connectivity through vehicle-enabled hotspots may become a future trend.


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Disclaimer

Geotab's blog posts are intended to provide information and encourage discussion on topics of interest to the telematics community at large. Geotab is not providing technical, professional or legal advice through these blog posts. While every effort has been made to ensure the information in this blog post is timely and accurate, errors and omissions may occur, and the information presented here may become out-of-date with the passage of time.

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