Amtrak Wants to Build Trackside Wi-Fi Network on the NEC

WASHINGTON – Amtrak is exploring options to upgrade its on-board Wi-Fi service in the Northeast Corridor (NEC), with a particular interest in constructing a dedicated, wireless trackside network that provides a high-capacity, broadband-speed Internet connection between Washington and Boston.

A wireless trackside network would provide passengers a true broadband experience, close existing coverage gaps along the NEC, and allow Amtrak to drop current restrictions on streaming media and large file downloads.

“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,” Amtrak Chief Marketing and Sales Officer Matt Hardison said in a news release.

Amtrak is now soliciting bids for a proof-of-concept project. The goal is to increase available bandwidth per train from 10Mbps today to a minimum of 25 Mbps (and scalable to even faster speeds as technology advances) to meet growing customer data usage demands.

Resultsof the test project will be used to determine whether it is technically and financially feasible to construct such a network along the entire 457-mile NEC.