LONDON QinetiQ has acquired parts of Broadreach Networks, including its subsidiary Broadreach Train Services, a provider of Wi-Fi internet to the European rail industry.
Broadreach will be merged with QinetiQ's existing wireless services operations for rail which focuses on the delivery of onboard internet for trains, other important onboard services supported by wireless communications, and static internet hotspots at stations.
In April QinetiQ led a multi-national consortium aiming to supply high speed wireless broadband computer access on trains.Recent research conducted by Broadreach suggested that 77% of business travellers wanted Wi-Fi onboard trains, with 70% of respondents saying they would be more likely to travel by train if Wi-Fi was provided.
Broadreach was formed in 2000 as a spinout from the international management consultancy firm, Arthur D Little, and its major shareholders included BT, Virgin and Intel. It has set up relationships with a number of train operating companies including Eurostar and Virgin Trains. Broadreach has already installed its Connected Carriage system on Virgin's Voyager train.
Broadreach also brings a number of contracts to provide static wireless hotspots at train stations, which will be consolidated with contracts awarded by FirstGroup through QinetiQ's partnership with The Cloud.
Hal Kruth, Managing Director of QinetiQ's Security and Commercial Ventures Sector, said, “Broadreach has established sound relationships with operators and suppliers alike which gives us real traction in the marketplace. When you add QinetiQ's technical know-how, particularly in wireless technology and the provision of real-time information systems, the result is a business that is well placed to exploit the increasing demand for internet access across the European rail network.”
Magnus McEwen-King, founder of Broadreach and who has become CEO of QinetiQ Rail, added: “It is clear that wireless internet access at stations and on trains gives rail operators a real competitive edge, particularly with business passengers.”
QinetiQ has developed a wireless network solution that supports the information services at major rail stations, including converged voice, data and imagery services. The system can drive and monitor all passenger information displays, CCTV cameras and Help-Points inside the wireless zones.