In Heaven, Estonians get free WiFi
Tallinn has just added yet another feather to its technological pioneering cap. The same week that the country gears up for the world's first ever online election, Hansa Buss has unveiled a new line of buses that will connect Tallinn and Riga. The new line of coach busses, though ordinary-looking from the outside, are equipped inside with two wall-mounted flat-screen TVs, electrical outlets in the sidewalls, and a kitchenette in the middle of the bus complete with expresso machine, microwave and small pantry area. Yet the feature that really has everyone's fancy tickled is that the entire bus has WiFi the complete duration of its five-hour journey between capitals, making it - you guessed it! - "the first ever international cross-border WiFi-enabled busline." What outlandish superlative will they come up with next?
Icing the cake for some is that accessing the WiFi is free - or at least included with the cost of the ticket, which is a hefty $40. Hefty, that is, in comparison to their logical competitor, Eurolines, who will take you the same distance for half the price. But Hansa Buss claims they aren't interested in competing with the oft-cramped, internet-less Eurolines - they're after the airline market. Their busses, with the extra amenities and environment suitable for getting work done, are actually looking to attract customers who typically fly business-class. Though the Estonian company had to remove half the seats to make room for the tables and extras, they expect to make a profit from the ticket price, which is still more affordable than flying, and hopefully, just as comfortable.
To make the project a reality, Hansa Buss looked to Veljo Haamer, a wireless innovator who has played a big role is Estonia's almost 1,100 free wireless hotspots. While the Hansa Buss WiFi venture, which debuted March 1st, is yet to be announced as a commercial success, Haamer has a few more superlative projects in his sights: WiFi-ing the six-hour train trek from Tallinn to St. Petersburg, and the sea ferries connecting Tallinn and Helsinki. Next is likely the first ever wireless casket, so Estonians can be buried with their laptops. [Sorry, that was completely out of line...]