Thursday, March 4, 2010

More Details on Amtrak's New Acela-Fi

More Details on Amtraks New Acela-Fi

A couple of reports on the new service Amtrak launched in the Northeast: Amtrak's offering free Wi-Fi in six stations and on the Acela line that runs between Boston and D.C.

More Details on Amtraks New Acela-Fi

From the Washington Post, Rob Pegoraro runs through some of the details he's found out. On trains, streaming services are blocked, and some content is filtered, without complete disclosure. There's no excuse for avoiding full disclosure. Pegoraro saw rates of 1 Mbps down and 200 Kbps up from the aggregated mobile broadband service.

Nomad Digital's backend is being used, which can take signals from multiple 2G/3G operators to piece together continuous coverage. I imagine the firm uses a virtual network that uses proxies on both ends to allow a continuous IP connection regardless of the intervening network pieces. The user has no awareness of this, and remote sites maintain connections via the proxies.

The service in stations is quite a bit higher, with Pegoraro measuring 3 Mbps/600 Kbps. Regular correspondent Klaus Ernst, an inveterate tester of new Wi-Fi systems around Manhattan, measured 8 Mbps/1.8 Mbps at Penn Station. (Splash screen courtesy Klaus.)

A report from Canada's Globe & Mail indicates that Via Rail's Internet service could use more robustness, where cellular doesn't fully cut it. The firm that operates Via, 21net, only uses cellular connections on the Windsor-to-Quebec City route over which Internet is available. That's what the train operator wants. 21net recommends adding satellite for reliability.

Amtrak Launches Wi-Fi on Acela and in StationsChris Brown praised for picking up rubbish