Indian train passengers to get mobile Internet access

RailTel Corporation of India Ltd. (RCIL) will offer broadband Internet connectivity to passengers on running trains by October this year, according to a statement by India’s Ministry of Railways in Delhi.

Delhi-based RCIL, a wholly owned subsidiary of the ministry, will deliver the service over the optical fiber cable (OFC) infrastructure it built for the railways.

The first commercial trial will be introduced on the Shatabdi Express that runs between Delhi and Bhopal in the north of India, according to the ministry. RCIL conducted successful technical trials on a running train between Tughlakabad and Faridabad stations in north India during April last year.

Using fibre as the backbone for communications between stations, RCIL uses a long-range variant of 802.11b wireless technology to communicate from the station to the running train, and a second 802.11b transmitter in the train to reach the passengers, according to Inderjit Sehrawat, deputy general manager at RCIL.

“We shoot radio signals to the passing train from the stations along the way,” said Sehrawat. “In our trials we have found that we can get up to 2Mbps Internet bandwidth on the running train.”

The ministry did not say how many routes will have the broadband facility, and the time-frame for implementation.

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