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Amtrak Says Upgrades Should Help Awful Wi-Fi
Acela Wi-Fi Getting Boost to LTE/4G
by Karl Bode 05:53PM Monday Jan 14 2013
Amtrak has been offering Wi-Fi on board some of their trains now for several years (specifically their DC To Boston Acela route), and now claims that a system upgrade will deal with some of the significant problems that plague the system. According to an Amtrak press statement (pdf), they'll soon be upgrading their cellular-powered train Wi-Fi to LTE connectivity. "Implementation has already begun on Acela Express and is currently undergoing stabilization and optimization activities," says the company. Given the overloaded use of the mobile signal this may not be enough to really improve things, and given the heavy volume of personal LTE devices it may not matter much either way.

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FFH5
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

1 recommendation

Upgrades will do nothing to improve train WiFi

This article explains real well why the planned Amtrak WiFi upgrades will help not at all:
»www.theatlanticwire.com/technolo ··· i/60887/
And the writer is correct in all his criticisms.
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Metatron2008
Premium
join:2008-09-02
united state

Re: Upgrades will do nothing to improve train WiFi

No, not really. If congestion is the issue lte will help, as lte uses the same signal more efficiently. Also, once Verizon finishes their lte upgrade things will work better too.

I've been in moving vehicles, lte works just fine (Verizon). If this doesn't fix it then the problem is Amtrak built a poor wireless network.

michieru
Premium
join:2009-07-25
Miami, FL
Reviews:
·Comcast Business..
Although he is right about 4G not being the solution he is missing the point. Amtrak train will need a proper installation of antennae that will outperform any cell device during weak spots and patches and keep a solid link at a lower data rate compared to random boosts of speeds.

Another way to improve the quality is get into a agreement with a carrier to install repeaters on the train itself preventing devices from trying to reach distant towers and feeding it all through one pipe. If Amtrak plans on relying for the carriers for WiFi they might as well sell the project to a carrier who can implement it properly and have them take a cut.

IowaCowboy
Iowa native
Premium
join:2010-10-16
Springfield, MA
kudos:1

I use my mobile hotspot

I use my VZW mobile hotspot when using my laptop on the train or on the go. There is no way my gadgets are going to touch a public hotspot as I value the money in my bank accounts (as public Wi-Fi has serious security issues).

XANAVirus
Premium
join:2012-03-03
Lavalette, WV
Reviews:
·Callcentric

Re: I use my mobile hotspot

Don't you use a VPN in those cases (public hotspots)?

It's what I do (except for when I'm banking, where I don't do that through any network except my own at home on one of my own computers).

For normal non-sensitive data, a VPN over public access works just fine (some websites that don't deal in banking or money in general have secure versions, too).

For normal sensitive data (non-banking), you're right that you wouldn't use a public hotspot, but I think a VPN-ed connection would work just fine for securing data traffic.

I for one don't trust my cellular broadband provider with any non-VPN-ed data. I use my VPN (from university) any time I'm not at home (which is secured by my own paid service).
Crookshanks

join:2008-02-04
Binghamton, NY

1 recommendation

said by IowaCowboy:

There is no way my gadgets are going to touch a public hotspot as I value the money in my bank accounts (as public Wi-Fi has serious security issues).

That's what SSL is for.

If you don't trust encryption then I sure as hell hope you aren't using a cable connection at home, because your downstream traffic is going into your neighbors house by virtue of the way DOCSIS works.
TBBroadband

join:2012-10-26
Fremont, OH

Re: I use my mobile hotspot

He uses Comcast And by the way the Internet is designed, anyone anywhere can obtain your information. Regardless if its "shared" on cable or on "dedicated" DSL.
Crookshanks

join:2008-02-04
Binghamton, NY

1 recommendation

Re: I use my mobile hotspot

said by TBBroadband:

And by the way the Internet is designed, anyone anywhere can obtain your information. Regardless if its "shared" on cable or on "dedicated" DSL.

For sure, unencrypted information is vulnerable regardless of the connection you use. So you either trust encryption or you conduct all of your banking in person at the teller line, and all of your shopping in person with cash.

I only made the analogy with DOCSIS because it does operate like wi-fi, at least with regards to the downstream. Unless the provider uses BPI (Time Warner doesn't around these parts) every unencrypted packet is potentially exposed to hundreds of people, just like a public wi-fi network.
BiggA
Premium
join:2005-11-23
EARTH

Last summer

It was working fine running over AT&T's LTE North/East of New Haven up towards Boston.

Dan0000

@sbcglobal.net

How are they offerring LTE??

Will they be offering personal hotspots or USB/mini-pci-e adapters? Or are they selling re-chargeable SIM cards or pay as you go plans for tablet use?

Or is it just an "antenna" amplifier that we connect w/ our own LTE plans?

Or is it just a LTE to wi-fi bridge network free for passengers?

Article doesn't make it clear
TBBroadband

join:2012-10-26
Fremont, OH

Re: How are they offerring LTE??

LTE/4G to wifi.

RR Conductor
NWP RR Inc.,serving NW CA
Premium
join:2002-04-02
Redwood Valley, CA
kudos:1

They have WiFi on a LOT more trains than that!

They have WiFi on a LOT more trains than that Karl!!

»www.amtrak.com/journey-with-wi-f ··· ormation

This official Wi-Fi network is available in the following locations:

Trains
Acela Express
Amtrak Cascades
Capitol Corridor
Carolinian
Downeaster
Empire Service
Ethan Allen Express
Keystone
Lincoln Service (select trains)
New Haven - Springfield Shuttle
Northeast Regional's
Pacific Surfliner's
San Joaquin's
Vermonter

Stations
Baltimore, MD - Penn Station
Boston, MA - South Station - available inside ClubAcela only
Lorton, VA
New York, NY - Penn Station - available in the gate areas and inside ClubAcela
Philadelphia, PA - 30th Street Station - available in the gate areas and inside ClubAcela
Providence, RI
Sanford, FL
Washington, DC - Union Station - available in the gate areas and inside ClubAcela
Westwood, MA - Route 128
Wilmington, DE - Wilmington Station

Trains with Wi-Fi in Select Cars Only
In the following trains, look for cars which contain hot spot stickers in the windows; cars without these stickers do not offer Wi-Fi access.

Adirondack - not available in Canada
Coast Starlight - only available in the Pacific Parlour Car, accessible only to Sleeping Car passengers but not available within the Sleeping Cars themselves
Maple Leaf - not available in Canada
Palmetto
Pennsylvanian
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