If you are a frequenter of trains in India, then you might have noticed how woefully lacking in connectivity our trains are. Forget Wi-Fi networks, once you enter the hinterland, even sustained cellular connectivity can be an issue.
Thankfully, Indian Railways has a solution at hand, and one you can experience right away. According to an IANS report, passengers travelling from Delhi to Kolkata on the Rajdhani train will now be able to access Internet thanks to a proper Wi-Fi connectivity setup onboard.
Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal launched the facility on the Rajdhani train at the New Delhi station on Tuesday. “Many passengers feel the need to access internet while travelling,” a railway official told IANS.
Wi-Fi on Indian trains (Image credit: Getty Images)
The report goes on to say that passengers will be given login and password credentials for the duration of the journey, based on their tickets and identity cards. It is as yet unknown whether this Wi-Fi duration will take into account delays caused by technical snags or bad scheduling. But we would be highly surprised if it doesn’t, given the regularity with which such delays occur.
Railway sources also said that the Rajdhani experience will be used as a pilot run for a more widespread Wi-Fi connectivity on trains. The service will reportedly be introduced on 50 train services, including Shatabdi and Duronto trains, if and when it proves to be a successful venture.
Passengers will be able to access email and browse the web with a maximum download speed of 4Mbps and a max upload speed of 512Kbps. It must be noted that you may get much lower speeds than that because the bandwidth is shared between all the passengers on the train. However, in case demand for bandwidth becomes high, the network will prioritise activities like email access over downloads or video streaming.
Internet access on the trains is possible thanks to a two-way satellite hybrid with 2G/3G and Wi-Fi. This consists of an onboard satellite-tracking antenna, a multi-band antenna and Wi-Fi broadcasting equipment. The satellite-tracking antenna is placed in one of the power-generating coaches with the primary broadband link established via satellite. In case of non-availability of satellite, the multi-access router switches from satellite to 2G/3G spectrum to achieve 99 percent connectivity. Wi-Fi radios are provided outside each coach and the bandwidth is further distributed inside the coaches through indoor access points.
At the 2013 Railway Budget, the Railway Ministry announced a plan to modernise coaches and the railway service in general. Besides bringing in wireless connectivity to select trains, the ministry is also planning to revamp the IRCTC ticketing website with a view to providing a hassle-free booking experience for customers
With inputs from IANS
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