AUTOSTRADE PER L’ITALIA
With a staff of more than 5,800 personnel and net turnover of around 3.5 billion euro in 2015, Autostrade per l'Italia is the top Italian operator in the management of concession highways. The idea in short Broadband connectivity is, in all respects, a real necessity for both business and leisure purposes. The project of bringing Wi-Fi coverage to all service areas by the company Autostrade per l’Italia arose from the desire to constantly improve the travel experience.
During the initial testing phases, the Wi-Fi service was provided through a national telephone operator in 69 test areas, providing free connection for 30 minutes per day, with coverage available only to clients with an Italian SIM card, subject to registration at the portal and notification via SMS of the password for access.
Subsequently, it was decided to remove all constraints, internalising the process and making the service free and much simpler to access: unlimited and without registration. This way, travellers have the option for quick and easy access, perceiving that they are receiving a simple and immediate service.
This free Wi-Fi connectivity represents for the Company the will to improve the services offered to its travellers, adapting to the emerging needs.
Flexible and free service
Since June 2016, navigating within the Service Areas has been easy, by simply selecting the "Autostrade per l’Italia Free Wi-Fi" network and clicking on 'navigate' on the "Landing Page". No SMS, email or portal subscriptions are required, and it is possible to access the internet from different places throughout the same day at the stops along the way. Access is obtained by connecting one's own device to the network both from the carparks and from the cafés/restaurants. The new version of the Wi-Fi service satisfies the client's need to use the connection from their devices and to take advantage of free return information that technology allows one to receive in real time from the network.
Also created was a branded virtual reception space dedicated to clients on the go, where they can connect wirelessly and access the ASPI network recognisable through the service signage. By connecting to the Wi-Fi service, clients can freely navigate all sites, update their applications, view streaming content, receive traffic updates, watch videos from their devices, and access social networks, plus download games, files and emails. In addition, on the Motorway company website, visitors can find useful tourist information, under the motto, "You are in a wonderful country, discover it with us!" The service provides information on cultural itineraries, artistic sights, the routes and trivia on crafts and local food around the service areas.
The current project, completed in June 2016, involved investments both in the technology tools and the specialisation of the internal company figures within the TLC Infrastructure and Information Systems. The enhancement of the architecture has aimed to provide indoor and outdoor Wi-Fi coverage in all service areas along the freeway network, in a total of 203 service areas.
The architecture of the network is comprised of two central controllers dealing with traffic management and provisioning of around 500 access points, divided into 280 indoor and 220 outdoor points installed in the Service Areas. The outdoor access points cover the parking areas, whilst the indoor ones are dedicated to the café and restaurant areas.
The new architecture, developed in collaboration with TT Tecnosistemi, provides centralised management of the service and greatly simplified monitoring which, in case of break-down, allows for the restoration of the service in a short time. Additionally, there is an option of balancing the load of users connected to the available access points, so as to limit any saturation phenomena during the 'hot hours' of use. The Wi-Fi network is operated directly by Autostrade per l’Italia, which avails of over 3,500 km of proprietary fiber optics. The dimensions throughout the territory and the geographic extent render Autostrade per l’Italia's wireless network one of the most complete Wi-Fi networks in Italy at the service of travellers.
Benefits and results
The success of the Wi-Fi service went beyond the initial expectations. Since the launch of the service, growth in the number of users connected to the service has been steady: in particular, in the last six months, a monthly increase of 20% has been observed both in terms of individual users and active connections.
In August 2016, approximately 1 million Wi-Fi connections were recorded, an increase of 300% compared to August 2015. Naturally, the use of the service varies depending on the traffic volumes and the seasonal peaks, but it is still expected to rise further in the coming months. An analysis of the distribution of users shows higher volumes of traffic on weekends (especially Saturday) and during the lunch hour.
To date, the service has been used by over 2.5 million clients who, in one year, exchanged almost 500 TB of traffic during the 5 million connections made. The ease of access also made it possible to boost the downloads of Autostrade per l’Italia's 'My Way' app for real-time traffic information. The ease of use and continuity of the free service available 24/7 have loyalised a segment of travellers, so as to convince the Oil & Food network operators to add the Wi-Fi service to their commercial offerings in their service areas.