Parallel Wireless and M1 have deployed On-Bus HetNet Technology for seamless connectivity on public buses in Singapore as part of the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) of Singapore’s initiative to make Singapore the world’s first “smart nation”. And now, this trial deployment has been named a finalist for Light Reading’s Leading Lights Awards “Most Innovative Wireless Service”!

“I’m pleased and proud to announce that this year’s Leading Lights Awards attracted a record number of entries — more than 300 in total.
It’s also worth noting that the standard of entries is improving dramatically, the passion shown by the entrants has at times reached fever pitch (especially when it came to the final hours before the deadline) and the range of companies entering is getting ever broader.
All of this has made the judging process not only incredibly tough but also very insightful. Finally, though, we have our shortlists and, believe me, each and every one of them deserves to be there.”
– Ray LeMaistre, Light Reading Editor-in-Chief

Congratulations to both teams at M1 and Parallel Wireless for all their hard-work that enabled this prestigious nomination! We would also like to thank the judges for recognizing the technology and innovation that went into this deployment.

The service provides passengers in Singapore with seamless high-throughput connectivity on board of a moving vehicle, allowing them to stay connected with their family, friends, colleagues, or to enjoy multimedia services on their devices.

The solution includes two components from Parallel Wireless: an in-vehicle small cell with LTE backhaul installed on board of the bus and a virtualized controller (HetNet Gateway) located in the M1 operating center. The in-vehicle unit, the size of a shoebox, integrates 4G/WiFi access with backhaul in the same form factor. By minimizing the footprint of the equipment to be placed on the bus, very little change to the vehicle structure is required, a key consideration for transit operators as major structural changes could potentially impact vehicle warranty. As the in-vehicle unit is capable of using any macro backhaul (3G/4G/4G+) as the bus moves along the route, backhaul reliability is also enhanced, resulting in a more consistent end-user experience with no dropped data sessions, online game disconnections or interruptions to the user’s video streaming.

The second component, HetNet Gateway, an NFV- SDN-enabled orchestrator manages traffic steering, load balancing along w/end user mobility between licensed/unlicensed and seamless handoffs when users enter/leave the bus, disaggregates/prioritizes traffic.

Most on-bus wireless services currently deployed worldwide have complicated logins, some requiring users to login every session. With the WiFi On-The-Go service, M1 customers enjoy an automatic handover from the cellular network to M1’s premium carrier WiFi network. In addition, the service anchors the customer’s IP address during handover, ensuing there is no dropped session.

The service is integrated with M1’s extensible authentication protocol-SIM technology, allowing non-M1 mobile subscribers to login through their device’s SIM card automatically and enabling them to seamlessly switch between their mobile operator and the Wireless@SG hotspot, also provided by the WiFi On-The-Go service.

The in-vehicle unit aggregates all user traffic as one stream, which is given traffic priority for enhanced QoS. The use of carrier aggregation for backhaul also significantly increases the overall pipe (up to 150 Mbps versus 50 Mbps), which will allow multiple passengers to enjoy bandwidth-intensive activities such as video streaming simultaneously (potentially ALL of 100 passengers could watch a), compared to other services which can only support low-bandwidth activities such as e-mail or web browsing.

In the event of unexpected on-bus network congestion, M1 customers will enjoy improved QoS as they can be offloaded to LTE service.

Transportation & technology are important components of Smart Cities. The mission of the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) is to develop telecommunications to serve citizens/companies. But with growing demand (mobile device penetration in Singapore is at 130 per 100 people versus 88 per 100 people in the US), the spectrum gets congested resulting in poor mobile service, especially in urban where macro layer is saturated. HetNet architecture with multiple frequency bands, radio access technologies, and intelligent in-vehicle units deliver QoS and spectrum utilization. On-Bus HetNet technology enables customers to enjoy the benefits of a seamless experience with:

  • Seamless connectivity/mobility from WiFi to 4G with end users not needing to re-setup the data session as their data connectivity shifts from macro cell to the WiFi and vice versa
  • Traffic prioritization/level of service
  • Consistent data session experience as end users travel towards their destinations on the bus, the LTE backhaul to the on-bus eNodeB remains robust/consistent to maintain the connectivity as the bus moves which allows real-time uninterrupted media applications
  • In addition to public transit passengers, On-Bus HetNet technology can benefit business by enabling new applications (i.e. tour operators can now provide tourists with Wi-Fi services on board their tour buses)

Global service providers look for new ways to maximize resources and to enhance the customer experience and generate new revenue. The on-bus HetNet technology checks all these boxes.

Today’s mobile users expect to stay connected all the time and will choose the provider that can deliver good mobile coverage everywhere. On public transit, where many end users spend upwards of an hour daily, they especially want to be able to utilize their time effectively, with sufficient connectivity to enjoy uninterrupted multi-media, not just simple web browsing or e-mailing.

In addition to connectivity, the service can potentially be enhanced with location-based capabilities, such as delivering schedule updates or coupons from stores along the route in real-time, to user devices.

Business customers will benefit from M2M services. Fleet operators, for instance, can use automated fleet management service to monitor fleet health, automate dispatch for maintenance, dynamically re-route fleet in case of congested roads, and share real-time schedule updates on bus stops and via texts with transit passengers. These M2M capabilities, enabled by the same small cell on the bus (or train, or boat), can help them reduce operating expenditure and make more efficient use of their fleet.