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Fleet-wide Wi-Fi is being introduced by Isle of Wight ferry company Red Funnel in time for the summer peak travel period.
The system promises improved connectivity and greater bandwidth to cope with a fivefold increase in demand over the past few years.
Users of the Red Jet high-speed fleet on the Southampton-West Cowes route will be offered free Wi-Fi for the first time as part of the technology upgrade.
Red Funnel was the first cross-Solent operator to introduce Wi-Fi for customers, more than seven years ago.
But the increase in demand from users of smart devices and signal drop-outs along certain sections of the journey has prompted the company to make a “significant investment” in a third generation solution which utilises the latest technology.
The new Wi-Fi system supplied by Trellisworks uses carrier class equipment with multiple carrier 3G/4G back-up in areas of poor signal coverage.
The number of wireless access points has also been increased on the Red Osprey and Red Falcon ferries, enabling customers to obtain a strong Wi-Fi signal throughout the ships.
Marketing and communications director Jonathan Green said: “Following extensive trials, we are delighted to be launching our new on-board Wi-Fi service to coincide with the start of the school holidays.
“We are particularly pleased to have overcome the technical challenges of providing a robust connection to our high-speed vessels which is a technical first on the Solent and great news for Red Funnel’s 1.1 million Red Jet customers.”
Jim Kernahan, of Trellisworks, said “Providing resilient connectivity to a large number of people travelling by sea at high-speeds has only recently become possible with the latest technology.
“Even so, considerable thought has gone into the design of the new network infrastructure to ensure that we could confidently deliver the high bandwidth and reliability that Red Funnel and its growing customer base wanted.”