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Netskrt Edge Caching for Rail Operators

Delight passengers with their favorite streaming services

Having fast, reliable, onboard Wi-Fi is a key decision point as passengers decide whether to choose rail travel. Nearly 80% of business travelers, 64% of people ages 16 to 35, and 41% of all adults (16-75) are more likely to consider taking trains with good Wi-Fi over other modes of transportation. Poor Wi-Fi, on the other hand, has long been a source of traveler frustration.

79% of business travelers
64% of young people
41% of all adults

Are more likely to consider taking the train over other modes of transportation if the trains have fast, reliable, on-board Wi-Fi.

Passenger expectations have changed

And while rail operators have been working to solve the difficult problem of improving onboard Wi-Fi, passenger expectations have moved on. No longer is email or browsing enough, now travelers want access to their own streaming video services. In spite of tight budgets, rail operators need to give passengers access to the digital entertainment they want in order to improve the passenger onboard experience for greater customer satisfaction and increased ridership.

Fortunately, innovative caching technology can both improve the onboard Wi-Fi experience and allow rail operators to offer full access to streaming video services on their trains. Netskrt’s edge content delivery network (eCDN) brings title- and network-aware caching to the extreme edge – on board trains in motion. 

A new solution for rail operators

Rail operators can now deliver exceptional quality live and on-demand streaming video on trains speeding through remote areas and tunnels with spotty cellular and satellite coverage. The Netskrt eCDN dramatically reduces bandwidth requirements for streaming video and intelligently manages content delivery in the station and on the move. This ensures high-quality viewing throughout the passenger journey – while leaving room on the Wi-Fi network for email, browsing, and other online activities.

ensure great streaming video viewing on the rails

Passenger satisfaction with Wi-Fi impacts travel decisions

People want their streaming services everywhere

As cellular coverage and bandwidth have improved, people around the world expect reliable, high-performance internet connectivity wherever they go. Streaming video content is an important segment of what they want to access.

More than 90% of American adults and 67% of UK households subscribe to one or more streaming video services, and subscribers want to watch their services not just at home, but when they travel, across all their devices.

93% of American adults and 67% of UK households access streaming platforms

Travelers like the benefits of taking the train: they can be more productive, it’s a more relaxing way to travel, and there are fewer hassles than with driving or flying. But to enjoy those benefits, they need onboard Wi-Fi they can count on for everything from email and web browsing to on-demand and live video from their personal streaming services.

Delivering fast, reliable, onboard Wi-Fi is hard

Rail operators have been working to solve the onboard Wi-Fi problem for some time, investing in better Wi-Fi systems, taking advantage of 5G and satellite for internet access, and, where they can’t increase capacity, blocking access to capacity-gobbling streaming video to ensure reasonable performance for email and web browsing. But even with 5G networks and satellite, trains still travel through rural areas with limited connectivity, and lose connections completely when passing through tunnels.

Granting access to streaming video compounds the Wi-Fi problem

Typical mobile and fixed broadband download speeds range from 80 Mbps for upwards of 200 Mbps – plenty of bandwidth for the video content that represents two-thirds of all internet traffic. But passengers attempting to use their streaming video services over the constrained connectivity available on moving trains would quickly consume all available bandwidth, leaving no room for email, browsing, social, or other activities. Compounding the problem is live streaming as potentially hundreds of passengers attempt to watch the same game, news, or other popular content.

A new solution can improve Wi-Fi and make streaming possible

Extreme edge caching offers rail operators a quick and affordable way to address Wi-Fi performance and video streaming. With edge caching onboard, operators can offer full access to streaming video, while keeping bandwidth available for other online activities. This allows operators to:

  • Improve passenger satisfaction and perceived passenger journey time as riders work, game, or enjoy their own streaming subscriptions without runaway bandwidth costs
  • Avoid investing in limited onboard content that quickly becomes stale
  • Add new revenue streams through advertising and other personalized content
  • Use onboard caching to store CCTV, sensor-based data, and raw data for later forwarding

“It could solve a very difficult problem around how people stream content.
It also frees up bandwidth so business customers can use our Wi-Fi capacity for things they need to do”

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Offer video streaming services on your trains

What is extreme edge caching?

Passenger trains are one of the most difficult environments in which to deliver bandwidth-hungry services like streaming video, due to the constrained bandwidth and inconsistent coverage available from cellular and satellite networks. Extreme edge caching brings a tried and true technology – content delivery networks (CDNs) to the hardest-to-reach points on the internet, including passenger environments such as trains.  Software companies and website owners have been using CDNs to bring content close to the customer since the 1990s. More recently, streaming video platforms started using CDNs to improve video delivery and their customers’ viewing experience. But there are many places traditional CDNs can’t reach due to network availability and the economics of remote or small communities, including air and rail passengers and rural locations. Netskrt invented extreme edge caching and its key components – title-aware caching and network-aware content management – to meet these technical and economic challenges. For rail operators, extreme edge caching manages the complexities of delivering live and on-demand video streaming to onboard consumer devices, while making the most effective use of available bandwidth. This innovative approach to caching, paired with title- and network-aware content delivery, predictively loads and stores popular content in edge caches located onboard.The majority of content is updated when lower-cost, reliable connectivity is available. Only uniquely requested or live content needs to load while the train is enroute.

What is the Netskrt edge Content Delivery Network (eCDN)?

The Netskrt eCDN takes a new approach to delivering the content passengers want – including live and on-demand video streaming – when they want it. It’s called extreme edge caching. Going beyond deep edge caching, the Netskrt eCDN is the only cache serving the extreme edge.

Made up of simple, affordable onboard cache that is title- and network-aware, the Netskrt eCDN predicts viewing demand and ensures the content passengers want is onboard, ready and waiting, without requiring ever-increasing bandwidth during the train’s journey. 

The  compact, cloud-based solution enhances existing train infrastructure with innovative caching and content management that better utilizes available bandwidth.

  • Title-aware – dynamic, title-aware predictive edge caching loads content in advance for viewing by all passengers, instead of waiting for viewer requests that generate multiple individual streams
  • Network aware –  significantly reduces the use of inefficient, expensive network connections by loading and updating content into onboard cache using the best, lowest-cost network option. Prioritizes the use of Wi-Fi networks in stations, 5G networks, and, when necessary, satellite.
  • Delivers VOD and live streaming – serves video requests from onboard cache instead of individual streams, giving passengers high-quality viewing of their own streaming services, without impacting other riders’ email or web browsing.
    • VOD – More than 90% of on-demand requests can be loaded in advance and served from the onboard cache.
    • Live – Uses up to 95% less bandwidth, while allowing each passenger to independently pause, rewind, and fast-forward their own live content.
  • Easy to deploy –  Integrates smoothly with existing onboard communications systems, adding local cache and cloud-based management.

Why choose Netskrt eCDN for rail?

Meet Expectations

Give passengers the streaming video they expect

By caching streaming video content onboard, rail operators can let passengers watch their favorite on-demand and live streaming services on all their devices, and still support email, web browsing, shopping, gaming, and more. Every rider gets an excellent onboard Wi-Fi experience.

Expand Bandwidth

Dramatically improve bandwidth efficiency

No matter how many people watch the same content, each title only streams once to the onboard cache, resulting in up to a 95% reduction in bandwidth required to support live streaming. On-demand content is stored onboard and regularly updated when high-bandwidth, low-cost connections are available.

Generate New Revenue

Explore opportunities for new revenues and operational efficiencies

With reliable, high-performance Wi-Fi available on their trains, rail operators can look at how they can generate new revenue streams such as advertising, while engaging riders and personalizing rider experiences. Affordable onboard cache can help improve the efficiency of storing and forwarding CCTV footage, sensor data, and other raw data collected by rail assets.

Stay Within Budget

Delight passengers and keep your budgets on track

Netskrt eCDN lets you protect your Wi-Fi from overloading by video streaming and your budget from runaway communications costs. As passengers find themselves engrossed in their favorite shows, their perceived travel time shrinks, resulting in a positive onboard experience that translates into repeat business and high brand equity.

Extreme edge caching for rail

Differentiate yourself from competitors. Learn how you can offer passengers the connectivity they’ve come to expect.

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