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Rail News: Passenger Rail

VIA Rail begins pilot program to provide wireless Internet access aboard trains


Some VIA Rail passengers traveling between Montreal and Toronto now will have free wireless local area network (WLAN) Internet access. On July 9, Bell Canada began an AccessZone® Wi-Fi hotspot pilot program on certain VIA Rail cars.

For the next four months, passengers will be able to use wireless laptops and other handheld devices while traveling.

WLAN connectivity uses combined satellite and wireless networks, including Bell ExpressVu’s satellite service, Bell Mobility’s 1X next generation wireless network and Bell’s nationwide data network, with support from Intel Corp. and wireless technology developed by Ottawa’s PointShot Wireless.

The Internet is transmitted to the train from Bell ExpressVu’s service to onboard equipment and then to end-user’s WLAN-enabled device. Responses from the end-user’s device then are transmitted back to the train’s WLAN equipment and delivered over Bell Mibility’s 1X network to the Internet.

WLAN connection on the trains would be similar to or better than dial-up connection speeds, according to a prepared statement. VIA Rail currently has two trains equipped with WLAN capabilities. During the pilot, Bell Canada plans to install more cars with WLAN access.

A recent PointShot and Intel survey showed more than 90 percent of respondents supported Internet access aboard trains, VIA Rail said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/11/2003