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School buses now come with free WiFi

These Icomera folks, the WiFi-in-public-transport chaps, are doing rather well.

Fresh from sticking WiFi on buses all over the place, they’ve now done a deal with The Green Bus company.

The Green Bus company are, as the press release states, ‘the emerging market leader in school transport thinking in the UK’.

Clearly. If they’re putting WiFi — for free — in their buses. That’s going to certainly make a LOT of friends from the students they’re transporting.

I never took the bus to school. Not once. I always lived just inside the walkable-area. So if I was late, tough. If I hadn’t done some homework, tough. You had to waste a ton of time walking to your doom.

But if you take the bus, it’s binary. You either GET ON the bus. Or you miss it. And if you miss it, then it’s game over for that day. Or you need to try and get a lift from your less-than-impressed-parents.

If you make the Green Bus company bus (who incidentally serve 23 routes across Birmingham), then you’ll still have 10, 20 or 30 minutes worth of time to sod about knocking a piece of rubbish together for your history homework. As every student worth his or her salt knows, DOING some sort of homework, however rubbish — and handing it in — is far better than NOT.

That’s 1,400 children now blessed with the power of internet communications before and after school. It’s, er, not all ‘education’ though.

Let’s hear from Ian Mack, MD at The Green Bus:

“With an increasing number of mobile phones and handhelds supporting Wi-Fi, our investment in Icomera’s Moovbox enables students to check email, surf the web, and play peer-to-peer games on devices like the Sony PSP and Nintendo DS – all free of charge. More importantly, the built-in GPS functionality of the Moovbox means we can see where our buses are at any time; this feature is being made available on our web site where parents and school staff can securely log in and follow the progress of any particular bus is during its journey via a familiar Google Maps display.”

That’s pretty neat — the GPS/Google Maps feature. Like that.

But WiFi on board will be rather useful for today’s connected young’uns.

Here’s what’s on-board:

The Moovbox mobile gateway is a ruggedized Wi-Fi access point and cellular router, offering multiple wide area network (WAN) radios for automatic failover between carriers, and featuring built-in GPS for real-time positioning. Moovbox products also offer secure Ethernet for IP-CCTV, DVR and telematics equipment with remote in-bound access for device control, and supports plug-and-play upgradability to future technologies such as WiMAX and LTE. The multi-user MoovManage service provides real-time device tracking, schedule adherence monitoring, remote device configuration, and Wi-Fi portal and usage statistics. More information is available online at www.icomera.com.

But set your expectations. You won’t be able to download the latest James Bond by torrent on the way to school. These things typically use something like a Vodafone 3G+ card for connectivity — good enough for web browsing and email but will come unstuck if you try and put 2.7GB through it.

I like the innovation though. Good work Icomera. Good thinking, The Green Bus company.

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

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