Planes, Trains, and Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi is like crack, and we’re all junkies at this point. We gotta have it, and we gotta have it everywhere. Sit our butts down on public transport, and we want it as bad as we crave it at home or at work.

Just give us the Wi-Fi, and nobody gets hurt.

If you’re reading this blog, it’s probably because you have an interest in the technical side of delivering wireless technology. It’s also likely that you’ve either designed or installed premise WLAN systems, or you’ve hung out with us good-looking people who do, By “premise”, I mean Wi-Fi in buildings, or outside in the courtyard or for the polo grounds. But when it comes to vehicle based Wi-Fi- and I mean big-ass vehicles like commercial aircraft and trains, most of us have never done that sort of Wi-Fi installation.

Planes and trains are simply captivating in many ways as it is. For me, I had 10 glorious years working Electronic Warfare for the US Air Force, and had the privilege of intimately knowing the F-4 Phantom, the A-10 Warthog, and to a lesser degree the F-111 Aardvark from the cockpit to every nook and cranny of the avionics bays and wheel wells. I rode my share of C-5s, KC-10s, and C-141s on deployments. I loved planes then, and I still like taking pictures of even commercial aircraft if they happen to be striking the right pose. And I’m a train nerd… I find them fascinating to photograph, I listen to their comms on the scanner and appreciate their rich history in the US and wild designs abroad. And now that they are all getting Wi-Fi, too… well, for me, wonderful worlds are colliding.

Yeah, everyone knows about Go-Go inflight Wi-Fi from the user perspective, and that’s nice enough (but paying for it in the terminal is Grade A bullshit, says I). You want to see something really cool about aircraft Wi-Fi? Feast your eyes on this

And this. And… this. If these don’t jazz you, you have my pity.

Then there’s the rail world and Wi-Fi. Though it’s not highly regarded, Amtrak has Wi-Fi service now, and is aiming big to bulk up it’s system. I just penned an article in Network Computing about what Amtrak is hoping to do with Wi-Fi, and it’s pretty wild. Even wilder is the Amtrak project document that gets into all kinds of specifics on the current Wi-Fi paradigm and what the company hopes to achieve in Wi-Fi. I consider it a fascinating, easy read. This is good stuff.

I love doing “normal” Wi-Fi. But the public transportation-based stuff is fascinating. I know there is a lot to talk about for buses and even on passenger cars as far as Wi-Fi goes (and I’ve done some public safety Wi-Fi in-vehicle projects, myself) but man oh man, the trains and planes stuff is fun to get lost in.


One thought on “Planes, Trains, and Wi-Fi

  1. Pingback: Planes, Trains, and Wi-Fi - Blog - Wavelink

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