Track-side Wi-Fi on Trains

Amtrak has made its choice: a trackside Wi-Fi solution for providing high-speed wireless Internet on board to high-speed train passengers.

To date, the major train operators in the U.S. and Europe have tried to provide Wi-Fi on board using 3G/LTE cellular connectivity, but the customer experience has been generally poor and passengers’ expectations have not been met.

The faster the train, the harder  it is to have a good connection. Even a simple cell phone call can sometimes be difficult to make on a high speed train, and normal Internet connections are heavily limited and exclude video streaming, Skype and VOIP calls, and heavy downloads.

Ten years ago, only a few business travelers were asking for Internet on board, and a trackside Wi-Fi solution was considered too expensive. In today’s business climate, however, customer demand has increased dramatically, and not offering reliable Internet service is impacting the passengers’ experience and ridership. On the other hand, providing a connection up to 100mbps even at 220 mph (350km/h) speed can positively impact ridership, improve customer satisfaction and provide train operators a competitive advantage over air travel.

In this post, Fluidmesh CEO and Co-founder Umberto Malesci shares his view on trackside Wi-Fi and the direction Internet connectivity on trains is taking, based on his experience working with most of the leading railways in the world.