Utah’s FrontRunnerAir.

UtahRail

The newly launched 40-mile commuter rail line, FrontRunner, goes official with its free Wi-Fi has unwired the 12 double-decker trains on this new line, which opened for service in late April. About 1,000 passengers ride the route from Ogden to Salt Lake City each day (as of mid-May), and the service logged 700 users per day just a few days ago. Speeds aren’t noted yet.

That’s an insanely large percentage of riders using the service, so it’s possible ridership has increased even more than the mid-May figures indicate, or the commuters are really intense computer and handheld users. Also, note that the FAQ for the authority’s overall Wi-Fi service requires you to be 18 years or older. It is Utah, after all—a minor might do something dirty with the service and the transit authority would be held responsible. The authority offers Wi-Fi on some buses, too.

The network is backed by fiber that runs alongside the track, which can make a huge difference in the ability to bring in backhaul. Other train lines have to work with either or both cellular and satellite backhaul, although Nomad typically uses fixed WiMax, as they are in this deployment. They’re finishing up a 600 km London to Glasgow route for Virgin in the UK, which will be vastly larger than any other Internet-equipped route in the world.

This is one of the first major production service launches of train-based Wi-Fi in the U.S. VIA Rail in Canada is the only other in-production system offering in-transit Wi-Fi on a train line in North America. There are several trials, pilots, and phased-in plans underway. 

FrontRunner: Internet on the Go.

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