Do you commute via Amtrak? Then you might know the horrors known as Amtrak Wi-Fi. Indeed, the railroad has taken a lot of heat over spotty Internet access, but news came in this week that things are beginning to change for the better: The organization has upgraded its Wi-Fi to broadband speeds across select lines on both the East and West Coast.
In situations like this, it’s always important to set realistic expectations. Although the move was intended to give business-class customers a faster, more reliable experience, Amtrak is also quick to point out that there are some limitations it will be enforcing. Customers are not permitted to stream HD movies or music, and certain data-heavy activities, like downloading large files (greater than 10 MB) are also prohibited. This makes sense, since a few passengers hogging the bandwidth could impact speeds for everybody onboard.
And though it may be improved, the connection probably won’t be seamless. Maintaining consistency on a moving car is tough enough, but when you’re talking about traversing different regions, coverage issues come into play. The railroad uses a variety of carriers along its lines, and switching between them could cause some hiccups.
Even so, it will almost certainly be better than the slow, fickle access of its previous lower-grade cellular-based wireless network. And considering passengers who have this access will be getting it for free, it’s sort of tough to complain. (Just ask frequent airline flyers.)
On the East coast, the upgrade has gone out to high-speed Acela lines topping 400 miles between Washington and Boston. On the West coast, it was implemented on many of California’s state-supported routes, like the Capitol Corridor, Pacific Surfliner and San Joaquin routes. As for the rest, Amtrak said it would upgrade all remaining Wi-Fi-equipped trains by late summer.