It looks like German Railways (Deutsche Bahn, DB) has had some positive feedback from their Wifi on Train pilot on the track from Dortmund to Cologne and has decided to expand the offer. Since 2005, seven high speed trains are equipped with on train Wifi which regularly run back and forth between the two cities. To connect to the Internet, Wifi to UMTS bridges were installed in the trains which used the 3G network of T-Mobile to backhaul the Internet traffic.
Now, DB has decided to extend the partnership with T-Mobile who will invest in new wireless base stations and tunnel coverage in 2007 on the tracks between Frankfurt – Hanover – Hamburg and Frankfurt – Stuttgart – Munich. The press release does not say if T-Mobile will use it’s UMTS network again or if they will deploy a new network based on Flarion’s Flash OFDM technology (now part of Qualcom) on the 450 MHz band as some rumors had it in the past (see here and here).
Deutsche Bahn will also increase the number of Wifi equipped trains to 50. Good news for me since I regularly use high speed trains between Munich and Stuttgart. Can’t wait to test it. After announcing to install power sockets at every seat this is yet another sign that DB has understood how to get new customers.