How States Are Working to Improve Wi-Fi Access on Trains

April 16, 2016

By Calvin Hennick, State Tech

For several years, the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District tried, to no avail, to offer Wi-Fi to passengers on the trains it operates between South Bend, Ind., and Chicago.Website Insert Gathering of Professionals 1 copy

“The business model just doesn’t make sense,” NICTD CIO Boris Matakovic says of the previous arrangements, in which outside partners either charged for Wi-Fi or tried to make money with advertisements. “They just couldn’t recoup their costs.”

Finally, managers at the rail line took matters into their own hands. Last September, Matakovic’s team installed Digi Transport WR44 cellular routers on 10 rail cars and contracted with AT&T for 4G connectivity. Riders can now reliably check their email and catch up on the news during their daily commutes. Thanks to positive feedback from passengers, NICTD is expanding Wi-Fi throughout its train cars.

“I’ve ridden the train dozens of times, and it’s perfect,” Matakovic says. “It doesn’t drop. It’s good enough for email and Facebook. It’s not that great for streaming, but it’s meant really as a work tool.”

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