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Amtrak Wifi Even Worse Than I Thought

Amtrak Wifi is pretty horrific.  In fact, I usually switch to tethering off my iPad’s 4G rather than use it because I’ve found it pretty slow.

I guess I’ve gotten so used to switching to 4G that I haven’t realized just how slow it can get.

I loved that Amtrak had Wifi.  I thought it was revolutionary.  And with business travel, I preferred to use it back when there was no Wifi in airplanes.

Now that there IS wifi in airplanes, it seems crazy to me that the Wifi on Amtrak hasn’t improved at all.  And I’ve been able to do some really web-reliant stuff on Gogo internet from the sky.  In fact, I trust it so much, I’ll plan on working from the sky.

So, just how bad is Amtrak’s wifi?

Consumerist, a product of Consumer Reports, has the scoop:

Riding Amtrak during peak hours, Berman first traveled from D.C. to NYC on an Acela train, and the initial speeds were promising. The average downstream speed between D.C. and Baltimore was 4.4 Mbps;

However, this leg of the trip showed signs of slowness to come, with speeds dipping as low as .6 Mbps, which is fast enough for you to stare at your computer screen and wish you still had the excuse of telling your boss, “I’ll be off the grid for a few hours while I’m on the train.”

Things got worse — much worse — during the Baltimore-Philadelphia stretch. Aside from a brief stretch in the Baltimore ‘burbs where the speeds reached a blazin’ mediocre 4.4 Mbps, the rest of this leg ranged from 0-.19 Mbps, harkening back to the early days of dial-up.

Speeds actually got worse — yes, it’s possible — between Philly and NYC. On this northbound leg, the average downstream connection clocked in at an ice-cold .1 Mbps.

And this was an Acela train.  One intended for business travelers.

Because he divided the leg up so much, it sounds like the traffic was speed for a little while.  DC to Baltimore is a half-hour of the entire trip.  The rest of the time, the speeds weren’t fast enough to actually use.

Consumerist makes the argument that Amtrak may as well not have internet and I agree wholly.

Whatever system they are using, they should just scrap–because it isn’t working anyway–and then attempt to look at other solutions for wifi.

I have a feeling they won’t though.  They wouldn’t want to lose the opportunity to advertise wifi, which I think is very short-sighted.

But now that you can buy cars that are wifi-enabled, I have to ask–what is going on with Amtrak?

Has anyone had any luck with Amtrak wifi?

Or more likely–what were your biggest frustrations?

amtrak train board

About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

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2 comments

  1. You are correct. It doesn’t work. I travel on Amtrak everyday and I use my own hotspot!

  2. I recently took Amtrak for a business trip to Boston. My train there (I boarded at Stamford), the Wi-Fi was great. It was fast and reliable and I had no issues. However this was a 7am train and the bulk of people wee sleeping or reading the paper. My return was a Friday night at 5 pm. It was working great at first but about 45 min in, it just completely crapped out. Although my computer told me I was connected with good signal, I could get nothing to load. It was unfortunate since I was hoping to get a lot of with done in my way home. I definitely think the number of users had an effect. Unfortunately, I still have an old phone that only offers 3g hot spot so I was really hoping to have functional Wi-Fi. So unfortunate that the Acela’s Wi-Fi is so bad since it’s primarily business travelers who take it.

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