Wobbly Wi-Fi

November 8th, 2011 at 9:56 am

Again, not to go all Tom Friedmanny on y’all, but if we want to be a world leader, or even a player, we need decent wireless on the trains and planes.   Perhaps the technology isn’t there yet but yesterday I rode the Amtrak on the Bos-Wash corridor and while I very much appreciate their effort, the wi-fi hardly worked at all, especially heading south.  (I was facing backwards on that leg of the trip but that can’t possibly have mattered, right?)


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8 comments in reply to "Wobbly Wi-Fi"

  1. D. C. Sessions says:

    Yes, facing backwards can matter — but only if the WiFi is crap to begin with.

  2. Foster Boondoggle says:

    Blame the lawyers. Instead of just giving you an access point – no muss, no fuss – they require that the system have a server capable of having you acknowledge some legal boilerplate waiving various hypothetical grounds for a lawsuit. Then you have to get a cookie deposited on your machine so that the system can tell you accepted the waiver. Then it has to interrogate the cookie with every single request. All that extra handshaking consumes bandwidth and server requests over what’s already a potentially flaky connection.

    I’ve given up trying the same thing on BART out here on the left coast. Nice idea, underfunded, made too needlessly complicated to work in practice.

  3. Sharon says:

    Were you on the regional or on the “expensive” train?

    • Jared Bernstein says:

      Regional–the cheap one…that probably matters too, I guess, though the Acela wi-fi’s wobbly too.

  4. Matt says:

    The technology certainly exists. I’ve ridden coach London-Oxford many times, and they have all had Wi-Fi. I’m talking about buses, mind you. There’s no technological reason we can’t do it.

  5. bloodnok says:

    mobile wifi is inherently random in its signal quality. that it works at all is almost a miracle ….

  6. Bill H says:

    Weren’t you facing the same direction going north?

    So, no, I don’t think it matters. Too many other uncontrolled variables to draw any conclusions, anyway. Guess you’ll just have to dedicate the next month to riding all the cars at all the times of day with all the possible
    populations aboard. Good luck!

  7. Tom Roud says:

    Well, for one thing, you should start with decent (high speed) trains …