Monday, March 8, 2010

Amtrak Looks for Internet Platform

Amtrak Looks for Internet Platform

Amtrak has a request for qualifications to build a system-wide communications platform operational and passenger purposes (link not yet available): The RFQ looks to find vendors who could build a system for giving Wi-Fi to passengers, and running a host of operational data needs for the railroad.

The RFQ spells out platform requirements, which include inter-car communication via wireless signals--no wires connecting cars--and dynamically assembly of a network when cars change in a train. The system has to support the ability to use multiple cellular networks, aggregating in additional bandwidth as available (such as "external Wi-Fi and track side wireless networks"). Heterogeneity seems to be the message here: no single-platform/single-technology commitments, and a plan for simple module-swapping 4G migration must be included.

The RFQ asks for a number of specifics from vendors who choose to bid. I don't see any schedule information in the document I was provided.

The document gives some marvelous numbers: Amtrak carries 66,000 passengers a day; 38 percent travel for business, and 14 percent commute. Atlanta's airport, the busiest in the world, had 222,000 "emplanements" (counting stepping off and on separately) per day in 2009.

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