BlueZone puts Bluetooth internet on Butlers Buses

18 May 2009

A 40-year-old Cork family bus firm that provides chartered bus services, as well as nationwide airport transfer services, has installed a free Bluetooth-based internet service on its buses.

The technology was installed by Bluetooth specialist BlueZone Media, and allows travellers who use Bluetooth-based mobile phones on a number of its routes to check Facebook, catch up on news, and send and receive email.

Cork company Butlers Buses is a family business operating for over 40 years. It offers a range of chartered bus services, scenic tours, golf tours and Airport transfer services nationwide.

The service will be rolled out early next month on a number of coaches from Butler Buses, and will initially benefit those on the company’s chartered and sight-seeing tours.

“This service will make us the first Irish bus company to say to all our customers that they can go online through their mobile while travelling with us,” said Butlers Buses managing director, Ian Butler.

“We expect there will be a significant uptake of the service, and we feel it will really distinguish us as a company,” he added.

The technology from BlueZone Media, called BlueZone Onboard, works by broadcasting mobile broadband over a bluetooth network created on the bus using a very small router.

Mobiles with Bluetooth turned on are prompted to download a custom web browser. The browser functions similarly to those on PCs, and enables users to view a selection of sites in a condensed form free of charge. The service also provides Wi-Fi connectivity, so travellers equipped with laptops can access the internet as they would in a normal office or home environment.

The service can be expanded to provide ticketing services via mobile phone, as well as delivering special offers, timetables and other information on-demand direct to handsets.

It has already been successfully implemented in other contexts, including Blanchardstown’s Subway outlet, where patrons can also enjoy free internet on their mobile.

“Customers depend on the internet for so much of their information needs that they expect easy and ready access to it no matter where they are,” explained BlueZone director, Kevin O’Connor.

“Not everyone has the internet access of an iPhone or can carry a laptop around, but most would have a Bluetooth-equipped mobile handset.

“With this new service, journeying will be a far more pleasurable experience, relieving some of the boredom and allowing you to make the most of your time while travelling. It will also give companies using the technology a competitive advantage, as customers will choose bus services offering additional value,” O’Connor added.

By John Kennedy

Pictured surfing on a bus: Kevin O’Connor from BlueZone, and Liam Butler from Butlers Buses.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years