Altamont Commuter Express Almost Wi-Fi Ready
Jun. 8 - BCN -- Altamont Commuter Express is moving a step closer this week to successfully equipping its trains with a new wireless Internet service comparable to DSL and cable connections.
Officials have been working with passengers over the last several days to ensure the new service has all its problems worked out, and a spokesman for ACE train said today said he expects the service to be up and running without a hitch within a month.
ACE has recently been asking passengers on its Stockton to San Jose trains to participate in an analysis of the new WiFi service, which is currently functional on all ACE trains, but still needs to be tested for performance, ACE spokesman Thomas Reeves said.
"We're finally at a point where the service is ready to go live, but right now we are just working with a core group of people to report on the reliability of the service," Reeves said.
Equipment for the new satellite-based service has been installed on all ACE trains, but bandwidth exercises are now being performed to ensure that strong signals can be maintained on ACE's most heavily impacted commuter trains, as well as through tunnels and over the Altamont Pass, according to Reeves.
In the last several months ACE's service contractor has been fitting one "brain car" per train with a saucer shaped satellite antenna that communicates with transmitters installed throughout the rest of the train that broadcast signals to passengers' WiFi devices, Reeves said.
The technology, which will be free to riders, has supposedly been used by the military for several years with seamless results, Reeves said.
Riders will not even need to log into a service provider Web site, instead being able to link up directly, as if they were at home.
Some problems have emerged recently when it comes to opening certain Web sites, but Reeves said the signal is consistently strong and that most passengers have responded positively.
The price of the whole project for ACE has yet to be determined, but according to Reeves, the cost will be partially subsidized by a marketing partnership with the University of Phoenix, which hopes to encourage passengers to take online classes while riding the trains.
ACE officials are still asking riders to give feedback on the how reliable to service is running thus far. Anyone that would like to join in with the testing team can contact ACE train at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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