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Amtrak to Launch High-Speed Wi-Fi

Plan is to construct a wireless trackside network along the 457-mile Northeast Corridor, company reps say.

Written by Sydney Wu.

There's nothing quite like taking a long trip without being able to access the Internet, especially if that pile of work that needs to be done within the next several hours is just sitting there. Or maybe that book you were reading got left at home, and some media entertainment is the way to go to pass the next 10 hours on a moving train.

Well, Amtrak has heard customer complaints and plans to build and launch a trackside Wi-Fi network with broadband speeds for the Northeast Corridor -- Washington D.C. to Boston.

Amtrak’s current Wi-Fi networkdoes not support high-bandwidth browsing -- no streaming music, no streaming video, no downloading large files . . . but you could probably read this article while on board.

“We know that our customers want a consistently reliable and fast on-board Wi-Fi experience -- something we cannot guarantee today on our busiest trains when hundreds of customers want to go online at the same time -- and we want to make that possible,” said Matt Hardison, Amtrak Chief Marketing and Sales Officer.

The plan is to construct a wireless trackside network along the 457-mile Northeast Corridor that will increase the current bandwidth of 10 Mbps to a minimum of 25 Mbps, eliminating the restrictions on streaming media and downloading large files.

Amtrak is soliciting bids for the proof-of-concept project until July 28.

“Our hope is to be under construction this winter, with a 10-mile proof of concept section,” said Lenetta McCampbell, senior director of passenger experience, according to WTOP. “That’s going to occur in Delaware and let us test the technology and our ability to do the construction project on a very busy railroad -- the busiest railroad in North America.”

Amtrak currently does not know whether the high-speed Wi-Fi will be free, an extra cost added into the ticket price, or a separate fee entirely, WTOP reports, and no date has been released as to when this upgrade will become available. 

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