Government Fleet Top News

Caltrain Transit Agency Plans '07 Rollout of WiMax Wireless Net

August 9, 2006

SAN JOSE, CA – Caltrain has successfully tested uninterrupted wireless Internet access on a train traveling up to 79 miles per hour over a 16-mile stretch from Millbrae to Palo Alto in California, according to the San Jose Mercury News. The transportation agency wants to offer wireless Internet access over the system’s 50-mile route and open it to the public within a year. Caltrain is considering offering free public access with an upgraded service for a fee. The agency plans to offer wireless Internet on all trains, installing the equipment on its Baby Bullet trains first.More than 35,000 people ride the system’s north-south trains each weekday, and Caltrain hopes offering wireless Internet access will increase that number. To keep a consistent Internet connection, Caltrain’s cars will be outfitted with WiFi antennas that will connect with WiMax Internet towers along the route. WiMax differs from WiFi in that it has much longer ranges — as much as 10 miles vs. WiFi’s reach of a few hundred feet.The route could have as many as 20 to 30 towers, the report said. The test area, which has seven towers, cost $334,000 to build. The agency doesn’t have a projection for the total cost.Wireless access has been offered in a limited way on ACE between Stockton and San Jose and on a handful of Capitol Corridor train cars. Bay Area Rapid Transit is also looking into the possibilities of offering it to riders.The Capitol Corridor agency began testing a satellite connection service on its 171-mile route but has since decided that the technology is outdated, according to the San Jose Mercury News. The authority plans to test four different technologies, including the same one that Caltrain is using, and pick among them.

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