Amtrak eyes WiFi upgrade for Northeast Corridor riders

An Amtrak train, though not the one this story is about. (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)
Passengers board an Acela train at Washington’s Union Station. (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

Welcome news for folks who travel Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. The the rail system is exploring options for improving WiFi service by constructing a “dedicated, wireless trackside network” that would provide better (and faster) Internet connections between D.C. and Boston.

If you travel on the line, you know the current service is spotty at best.  You might connect only to be dropped a few miles later.

As my colleague Brian Fung reports, the plan would include “track side infrastructure that would deliver broadband speeds up to 25 Mbps to every train, up from the current 10 Mbps. With the upgrade, riders might finally be able to browse the Web and check e-mail without getting constantly kicked off their connections. The hope is to roll out a pilot project as early as this winter.

Hallelujah!

But of course there are caveats, as Brian points out. The “upgrade” is unlikely to match the speeds that many folks have grown accustomed to on their home networks.

“In short, the upgrade will make a virtually worthless feature of train travel just barely usable again,” he writes.

Read more of Brian’s analysis here.
 

Lori Aratani writes about how people live, work and play in the D.C. region for The Post’s Transportation and Development team.
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