ViaSat (VSAT), NCDOT Introduce New Onboard Tiered Wi-Fi Services

September 15, 2016 8:02 AM EDT

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Building on their multi-year relationship, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) Rail Division and global broadband services and technology provider, ViaSat Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT), are bringing new Wi-Fi service plans to Piedmont railway passengers traveling between Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina. The new tiered service plans offer passengers faster speeds and more options when surfing the web, checking and responding to email, engaging in social media and staying connected while traveling on the 174 mile corridor.

The new tiered Wi-Fi service offers three levels: a Bronze plan, which is included in the purchase of a ticket, to more robust premium service plans, which include a Silver and Gold plan, each of which provide higher speeds and additional streaming media options.

"ViaSat has been a valued partner to NCDOT in launching our wireless internet services onboard the Piedmont Rail," said Paul Worley, Director, NCDOT Rail Division. "The program has been highly successful in delivering Wi-Fi service to the occasional leisure traveler, family and business commuter; however, we want to raise passenger satisfaction further by delivering a more consistent Wi-Fi experience with faster speeds. By introducing new tiered internet options, we can ensure better quality of service to each passenger, while off-setting operational costs to NCDOT."

Ease of passenger use was critical to the development and deployment of the tiered Wi-Fi system approach, which leverages a Wi-Fi portal welcome page that simply highlights the passenger's onboard internet options. Once a passenger registers on the portal, they will have the opportunity to create a user account and password. Passengers can then select from the Gold, Silver or Bronze service plans.

"Since the beginning of our relationship, the NCDOT has been focused on modernizing the Piedmont railway system and making train travel more connected," said Cody Catalena, vice president and general manager, Wireless Services, ViaSat. "In working with NCDOT, we found being connected was not a 'one size fits all' approach, and we created the tiered Wi-Fi service plans to meet passengers' needs. By deploying the multi-plan system, NCDOT is establishing itself as an innovator in the rail industry, providing Piedmont passengers complete wireless internet services that meet individual needs when traveling."

ViaSat worked extensively on the network design to engineer complete coverage of the Piedmont rail corridor, ensuring uninterrupted Wi-Fi services to passengers and easy management of train configurations by NCDOT. ViaSat managed Wi-Fi services include end-to-end management of Wi-Fi networks from network design, installation and reporting to monitoring and end-user support via the system's cloud-based TRACKOS software.

Pricing and Availability The NCDOT's tiered Wi-Fi service plan is scheduled to launch on September 22, 2016. The existing Bronze plan is a 30-minute plan and is included in the train ticket purchase The new premium Silver plan subscriptions range from $1 (hourly) to $30 (monthly) and the new Gold plan subscriptions range from $2 (hourly) to $40 (monthly).

About the Piedmont Rail Service The Piedmont Rail service currently consists of two daily round-trips between Raleigh and Charlotte, with seven intermediate stops along the route. In 2017, NCDOT expects to have three daily Piedmont round-trips between Raleigh and Charlotte. Travel time between Raleigh and Charlotte is approximately three hours in each direction.

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