Even though I'm out of town, I'm still interested in train related issues. So when I started seeing articles about how the Worcester-Framingham line is going to pilot the MBTA's WiFi program, my first thought wasn't "Sweet! I can surf the web while riding the rails," it was "Does this mean we'll never get to Boston on time and they need to find a reason to justify poor performance to all of our companies?"
Since WiFi can attract a lot of attention, most of the major media outlets in Boston covered this announcement - The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, Worcester Telegram & Gazette, BostonNOW, and TV stations. Heck, even NetworkWorld.com wrote an article.
The pilot officially starts this Wednesday. The MBTA is claiming they are the first in the nation to be able to roll out WiFi technology to riders. The agency has spent $260,000 - 262,000 on installing WiFi across the 45 miles of track between Worcester and Boston. Supposedly service is available across the entire 45 miles, but then again this is the same agency that can't seem to get trains into Boston on time. Posters will notify riders that they are on a WiFi car (does this mean people will be extend their fights beyond who has to sit in the middle seat?).
And now we get to the heart of why I'm not so excited about this, as written by The Boston Globe:
The MBTA says 18,000 passengers rely on the Worcester/Framingham line on a typical weekday. It has been plagued by delays in recent months, largely because it is the only line dispatched by CSX Transportation, which also runs freight on the line.
Because bandwidth is limited, the T is also looking at technology that would limit how much bandwidth individual commuters can use so the signal spreads among more people. That could mean commuters would have to wait until they get to work to download videos.
This should be interesting.