Enabling virtually unlimited onboard WiFi bandwidth for passengers to stream media, while preserving the vehicles’ existing cellular network for other uses
The new era of media streaming
Media consumption patterns are changing dramatically. Traditional linear TV is experiencing a significant decline and shift in viewership towards streaming platforms. In the United States, according to a study from Nielsen “overall streaming is now 25% Of TV viewing”. Likewise in Europe, numerous launches of international and national direct-to-consumer SVOD services (subscription video on demand services, such as netflix) by media players have led to a rapid consumers preferences for accessing content anytime, anywhere and on any device: OTT SVOD subscriptions have passed from 300 000 subscriptions in 2010 to over 140 million in 2020 (source: European Audiovisual Observatory “Trends in the VOD market in EU28”). And this starts to lead to advertisement budgets being rebalanced towards digital media streaming channels.
A challenge for transport operators
So in the public transport world, in principle, in order to meet today´s media consumption, the entertainment services that are defined in transport vehicles and promoted to passengers should eventually reflect this major shift in consumers’ media habits. Passengers – especially younger ones – are indeed increasingly expecting onboard seamless and reliable access on their personal devices to media streaming apps and their diverse content, as they do it regularly at home. In an ideal world, to make this work, transport operators would then provide easily enough bandwidth for everybody to consume as a basic service.
The reality is however somewhat different: there are currently limitations that you can not avoid.
Firstly, the limitations are related to the number of existing 4G towers which may not be sufficient in some areas, meaning that in the countryside coverage may remain poor or even non-existent; secondly, even with good mobile coverage usually in more urbanized areas, the number of sim cards required for the on board WiFi system to support the ever-increasing entertainment needs of today’s passengers will not be at all an economical and viable solution for operators either today or tomorrow. So how to satisfy passengers with an affordable solution for transport operators?
Bringing standard WiFi systems installed in vehicles in line with media streaming consumption
In the everyday digital world, the delivery of media apps to people at home (or in hotels, in stations etc…) relies on content delivery network companies – called CDN. In summary, these CDN companies ensure the quality of the media delivery up to the end users to their devices, in a “fixed” environment.
For “mobile” environments, such as trains, buses, or other means of transport, PaxLife Innovations has come up with a similar software CDN platform, embedded in vehicles, that ensures that supported media applications are reliably delivered locally from the onboard server to passengers´ devices throughout the journey. The server is synchronising with media content via high-speed connections available along the route (initially at stations); so at the end the system works with the media apps running onboard and getting accessed by passengers’ devices without blocking the bandwidth for other users and regardless of the external connection.
Based in Potsdam, Germany, PaxLife Innovations was originally established to connect aircraft passengers to the digital world; PXI brought its cutting edge technology to rail and public transit in 2019. PXI joined the 5G VICTORI consortium at the beginning of 2021. PXI’s combined experience with media and rail operators will bring expertise in software and content hosting as well as deployment and distribution to support the 5G VICTORI consortium in the development of an architecture and prototype suitable to (multi-) CDN based media distribution in the transport industry.