January 26, 2012

The World’s Fastest Wi-Fi on Rails

The world’s fastest… A strong statement to make? Yes. Accurate? 100%.

Feeling connected for work or leisure has become an essential part of everyone’s life, which is why one of the best features of VIA train travel experience (aside from the comfort, safety, and of course, the views) is the internet access.

In January 2011, VIA introduced a new state of the art Wi-Fi system onto its first train within the Québec City-Windsor corridor, replacing its first generation (originally installed in 2006). Since then, all train sets running in the Corridor that include a Business Class car (which acts as the "brain car", see below for more information) have been equipped with WiFi and are successfully keeping passengers connected. And with a 99.5+% coverage rate between Québec City and Windsor, we’ve got you covered!

So what makes VIA’s WiFi the “fastest on rails”? Two factors contribute to our success: the system and the providers.

The System

One of the front-most cars of each train set (otherwise known as the “brain car”) carries not one or two, but eight antennas on its roof. More receptors mean more “hit” points, which translates into fewer dropped signals and faster downloads. If the signal is weak around one antenna, chances are it will be strong around one of the other seven. Each other car in the set is connected to the “brain car” via a high speed inter-carriage link or ICL, which means a strong connection from the front to the back of the train, for all passengers, in every car.

The Providers

A big part of VIA’s success is the fact that there are three great wireless providers that service the Québec City-Windsor corridor. Instead of depending on any single provider, VIA aggregates all three. The WiFi system is constantly scanning the signals and choosing the strongest ones in any given area. In this way, there are virtually no “black holes” (areas with no internet signal) along the route.

Combine the above two factors and you can count on a system that rarely disappoints, and an opportunity for long stretches of productivity – or leisure - on your trip.

This project is part of VIA's Billion-Dollar Transformation, funded through Capital Investment. Read more about the transformation.