UK train passengers show interest, revenue probably there: But governmental contracts for train operators that require renewal and many competing interests might prevent the companies from building their own or outside firms from going through all the hoops. Sounds like the airport market as well. Also, some technical issues with having continuous signals while on trains. 3G might be good enough for in-transit use at some point; Wi-Fi in stations.
Hello Glenn: This idea's a natural. Commuters are the ideal audience for wi-fi.
Here's a solution (you already know this story but the video demonstrates how Cisco pulls this off. Click on the listing: Aironet Onboard Lufthansa, Lufthansa is now flying a Boeing 747 jet equipped with a broadband network.):
Has anyone tried this out?
3G seems to work pretty well in transit already from my observations of fellow passengers on my journey into London every day.
One downside with the idea of using WiFi is that few UK trains have power points to keep laptops going for longer than their brief battery lives.
"In the last few days of the trial period, Lufthansa also received the approval of the Federal Aviation Office for the use of wireless access from passengers’ laptop computers..."
I called Lufthansa to check, and the service wasn't continued beyond the three-month trial period. The person I spoke with said that they were considering trying this again, next year.
Well, regarding power - 802.11b can be used with
PDA - I find it more convenient to use with
my Sharp Zaurus than notebook.
And 802.11b CF cards are far cheaper than GPRS/3G
Bill, I don't think commuters are the best target market. Much better are the longer distance trips. London to Bristol, Liverpool, Paris, Newcastle etc. Being able to work while travelling in relative comfort makes this a big plus over driving or flying. The same goes for large parts of Europe where long distance train travel is efficient, comfortable and commonly used. And like planes when you've already paid a substantial ticket price another $5-10 for WiFi is going to be easy to get.
The big question as the article and Glenn point out is how the hell you get 2Mbps onto a moving train. Given that trains typically travel in straightish lines, I'm sure it's doable just not easy. How about parabolas on the front and back of the train and fixed parabolas on track side furniture pointing up and down the track? No idea how the hand off would work.
As for power, even without the bandwidth, trains (like airplanes) need power sockets near the seats. We're all becoming addicted to our electronic devices and batteries don't cut it. Trains have healthy amounts of power on them so the problem is only (only!) the refit costs.
Why can't you use the satellite system Lufthansa used? Cetainly with a train, you're talking about mostly one dimensional travel, with an occasional curve here and a tunnel there. Plus, you don't have the problems of pitch, roll and yaw (depending upon the condition of the track).
Here, Amtrak has AC outlets for each seat. But, on a recent trip up to Albany the cellular was spotty. If they could offer wireless broadband Internet and reliable voip, the average rider would see such a benefit, word would spread about this technology and the public would start to ask for it.
>I don't think commuters are the best target >market. Much better are the longer distance >trips. London to Bristol, Liverpool, Paris, >Newcastle etc.
Agreed- it's standing room only on most short distance commuter trains I take into London.
>I'm sure it's doable just not easy. How about >parabolas on the front and back of the train and >fixed parabolas on track side furniture pointing >up and down the track? No idea how the hand off >would work.
Very, very expensive- huge capital investment, plus you need trackside access to service the kit- which means specialised training, permits to work etc. You need to be careful with trains running feet away from you.
>Cetainly with a train, you're talking about >mostly one dimensional travel, with an >occasional curve here and a tunnel there
Cuttings will be a problem- limited LOS.
The Lufthansa story is confirmed, they will restart their wireless broadband Internet service for 30 euros ($35,44) per flight: