They may snake through the hills and vales of New England at more than 150 miles per hour, but many Amtrak passengers have a complaint: It’s just not fast enough.
The wifi, they mean. (Though some of them probably mean the train speed, too.) When it's working, Amtrak’s existing free wifi service performs fine for sending email or checking Facebook, but it chokes when users to try to stream movies or songs.
Now, the service has announced it wants to improve the quality of its wifi. According to a press release Monday, Amtrak intends to build a “high-capacity, broadband-speed” wifi network along the length of its Northeast Corridor track, replacing the 3G-based mobile service it currently uses.
This new network should remove the final coverage gaps along the Boston-to-Washington, D.C. route. (In this reporter’s experience, there’s a particularly pesky one around Baltimore.) It should also “allow Amtrak to drop current restrictions on streaming media and large file downloads,” which means—yes—you could now watch Netflix on Amtrak. Or listen to Spotify. Or download a movie.
“We know that our customers want a consistently reliable and fast on-board Wi-Fi experience–something we cannot guarantee today on our busiest trains when hundreds of customers want to go online at the same time,” said Matt Hardison, Amtrak’s marketing chief, in the release. “We want to make that possible.”