CIE plans to make free Wi-Fi pay with movie streaming
Movies, TV shows and music channels could be offered to bus and rail passengers as public transport companies attempt to make money from their Wi-Fi service.
CIE is seeking companies to help it generate revenue on its Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann fleet, where internet access is currently provided free of charge and available to more than half a million passengers a day.
But the company does not allow customers to use streaming services such as YouTube, Netflix or Spotify.
This is because there is limited bandwidth available, and streaming a movie would reduce Wi-Fi availability to other passengers. But buses and trains could offer stored content on board each vehicle, and passengers would be offered a choice of music, TV programmes or films for a fee.
Their choice would be streamed to their phone, laptop or tablet, and the system would be similar to that employed by airlines, where an on-board server hosts the entertainment.
"We're going to the market to see if we can generate revenue, including advertising," a CIE spokesman said.
"Free Wi-Fi is to be continued, but we want to explore the different market options.
"It could include premium content, and we're open to suggestions. We want to establish if there is a market," he added.
Tender documents note that the three companies carry almost 200 million passengers a year, and that almost 600 carriages across DART, commuter and the intercity fleet are fitted with Wi-Fi.
In addition, another 635 Bus Éireann and 972 Dublin Bus vehicles are similarly equipped.
The company hopes to award a two-year contract to operate the service, and the contract involves generating revenue from the provision of on-board Wi-Fi.
It says that content will have to be provided on the splash page, or front screen of the website, and that CIE may choose to run market research.
The revenue stream will have to be "clearly identifiable", and the company wants it to be "stable" across the year and not subject to "seasonal swings".