UCONNECT is a public transport WiFi project for buses and other vehicles. It uses cellular and WiMAX networks as backhaul for providing WiFi to passengers. Members of the UCONNECT consortium for Wireless Smart Transport are: GOWEX (SME-Spain), Eclexys (SME-Switzerland), Brightcom Solutions (SME- Portugal), Autocares Jiménez (SME-Spain), Saphyrion (RTD performer -Switzerland) and Universitatea Tehnica Cluj-Napoca (Romania). The project, which was started in August 2012, has been co-financed by the European Union’s aiding programme for research activities “Seventh Framework Programme (FP7)”, under the “Research for the Benefit of SMEs” scheme.
Pilot testing in buses
The UCONNECT platform will be tested in several buses from the Autocares Jiménez fleet for a 3-month period (April-June 2014). If successful, it will be used in other bus fleets. The buses will incorporate a smart mobile router which acts as a gateway between mobile (GPRS, UMTS, HSxPA) and other wireless (WIFi, WiMAX) networks, and the passengers’ mobile devices.
Thanks to this system, passengers’ devices will connect to the most appropriate wireless network at each moment of the journey, as a function of the capacity and quality of service needed for the transmission of specific data types. In this way, the user can be using his/her smartphone to navigate the Internet through a 3G network but, at the moment that he/she is going to perform a Skype video call, the UCONNECT system will automatically connect him/her to a WiFi or WiMAX network, or both if there is available coverage in the area, which offers more bandwidth and better quality of service for transmitting voice over IP and TV over IP.
The system will offer opportunities for the transport companies to implement new services such as fleet management, remote road safety systems, real-time video surveillance, online entertainment for passengers, and more.