Railways Launches Free Wi – Fi Internet Access on Trains


Railways Launches Free Wi – Fi Internet Access on Trains

Train journeys may not be all that boring anymore. The Indian Railways has launched free Wi – Fi based Internet services in New Delhi – Howrah Rajdhani. Fifty other trains are expected to be connected this year.

Train passengers will be able to browse the Web, access email, chat, video services such as YouTube and even play online games while travelling. Initially, 4 Mbps download bandwidth and 512 Kbps upload bandwidth is earmarked for Internet facility in moving train. However, individual users may get much lower speeds because this bandwidth will be shared by all the passengers on the train.

Nirav Dave, Managing Director, Techno Sat Comm ( India ) Ltd, the company which is providing the technology, said that in case the demand for bandwidth becomes high, the network has the intelligence to prioritise traffic.

“Critical communication applications like email or online transactions will be given top priority. Video downloads and gaming would be last, if there is a crunch on the bandwidth availability,” Dave told Business Line. “We had done trials with 120 passengers simultaneously accessing different types of Internet services on a 2 Mbps bandwidth and we found that there were no issues as far as download speeds are concerned,” he added. Access to porn sites will also be blocked. To comply with the DoT’s extant guidelines for user authentication for public Wi-Fi networks, a detail log in process has been put in place. For accessing the service, passengers will have to provide mobile number, PNR number, Government ID ( election card, Aadhaar etc ) for getting unique password by SMS on the mobile.

The system will be scaled up to offer interactive multimedia entertainment with Internet Television in the future.

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How it works

Internet access to passengers has been provided using two-way satellite hybrid with 2G / 3G and Wi-Fi. The system consists of on-board satellite tracking antenna, multiband antenna and Wi – Fi broadcasting equipment for on – board last mile connectivity. The primary broadband link to back haul the Internet traffic is established via satellite and in the event of non-availability of satellite the multi – access router automatically switches from satellite to 2G / 3G links to achieve 99 per cent connectivity.

The satellite antenna is placed in one of the two power cars of the rake. This is linked through Wi – Fi radios provided outside of each coach. This is further distributed inside the coaches through indoor access point.

“To introduce Internet access in moving train was a technological challenge considering that the train passes through all type of terrain and continuous Internet access in all weather is to be provided. After due deliberations on various options for providing Internet access, Indian Railways decided for satellite communication link to the train,” Dave said.

Free of cost

This facility will be extended free of cost to the travelling passengers. The facility is being introduced for the first time on Indian Railways through the latest technology at a total cost of [rupee] 6.30 crore. The Railways intends to expand this service to other Rajdhani, Shatabdi, Duronto express trains progressively based on customer feedback and acceptance.