12 May 2011

WiFi in BMTC buses

One of the good things about Bangalore airport is the abundance of buses right outside the arrival terminal to most locations at convenient schedules. In fact I hardly find a need to engage one of the cabbie's lining up outside the arrival terminal. The buses are state-of-the-art volvo rides, air-conditioned and rightly priced as well. Every hour you'll find a ride to your destination or a place close by.  And yesterday I had a pleasant surprise when i boarded the bus. Behind each of the seats is a touch-sensitive panel with WIFI enabled web surfing. Bangalore already has its place as a techie zone in India. So not a puzzling addition to the list.

The devices are approx 7 inch iPad like clones with an Android operating system and touch sensitive display. Details on the device point to an Indian Firm (EAFT) which seems to have implemented the concept. Nice idea though and good set of features provided. Even an audio jack is provided so that one can catch up with their favorite tracks. The complete ensemble is mounted on seat mount made of some tough leather.

With WiFi being the blame target for every information based crime nowadays, the WiFi feed is well protected via a WPA2 sort of authentication. Also its tied to an authentication system which asks for your mobile details and sms'es you an authentication password to access WiFi.

Most of the device is fairly thin-client and services are linked to web based offerings - like Google Books, YouTube Videos, Google Maps etc. However before any service starts is a 10 second mandatory advertisement window of sorts thats a bummer. There ain't any such thing as a free ride ;-)
I tried checking if I could access the WiFi signal from my mobile device but sadly couldn't get the network key for the same. Anyway I guessed - with advertisements making the bulk of device services, they wouldn't make that available on third-party devices that easily. I say - "that easily" cause once you get the network key - nothings stopping you ;-).

A good idea - though in the Indian context  one needs to see how much these devices can handle abuse and wear n tear. Already I could see a few seats with defective pieces. Lets hope that the idea lives on and becomes a common thing on future rides everywhere in India.

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