Now that many domestic flights have in-flight Wi-Fi, it seems only natural that trains should follow. Amtrak is gearing up to do just that on trains across the country with free wireless Internet for all riders.
Amtrak kicked off its on-board wireless Internet service way back in January on trains running throughout the Northeast corridor, most notably the semi high-speed Acela lines. As of this week, Wi-Fi is now a free, standard amenity on Acela, given that 39% of ridership takes advantage of this. I'm only surprised that number isn't higher as Amtrak trains (even the Acela) can be dreadfully slow and there isn't much else to pass the time. Although, it depends how many people are carrying Wi-Fi ready devices.
It doesn't look like true high-speed rail service will be taking off anytime soon within the continental United States, it's nice to see Amtrak trying to upgrade things a little with the intention of bringing free Wi-Fi service to trains nationwide.
Yet, as Ars Technica points out, the program roll-out will be tricky given the many wide, open spaces across the country without cell phone towers and how often the train car configurations change between major cities. So there isn't a road map or definite dates as to when this will all go live.
Nevertheless, while it might be spotty at first, it is a commendable effort. However, it's still not enough to make me pick Amtrak over flying when it comes to traversing a considerable distance. Maybe when they lower their overpriced fares and speed things up a bit, I'll reconsider.