Wireless Internet access on Amtrak trains might be getting a lot faster soon.
Amtrak said in a press release that it’s exploring options to upgrade its on-board Wi-Fi service along its Northeast Corridor, with a particular interest in constructing a dedicated, wireless trackside network that provides a high-capacity, broadband-speed Internet connection between Washington and Boston. Currently, the train service relies on cell towers for its Wi-Fi access, which results in spotty reception, as many regular riders know.
According to the release:
A wireless trackside network would provide passengers a true broadband experience, close existing coverage gaps along the NEC, and allow Amtrak to drop current restrictions on streaming media and large file downloads. “We know that our customers want a consistently reliable and fast on-board Wi-Fi experience – something we cannot guarantee today on our busiest trains when hundreds of customers want to go online at the same time – and we want to make that possible,” said Amtrak Chief Marketing and Sales Officer, Matt Hardison. Amtrak is now soliciting bids for a proof-of-concept project. The goal is to increase available bandwidth per train from 10Mbps today to a minimum of 25 Mbps (and scalable to even faster speeds as technology advances) to meet growing customer data usage demands. Results of the test project will be used to determine whether it is technically and financially feasible to construct such a network along the entire 457-mile NEC. This effort to explore a new wireless solution for the NEC represents Amtrak’s ongoing commitment to using technology to improve the passenger experience and increase satisfaction.