MBTA to roll out premium WiFi for a fee on commuter rail

The MBTA today announced a contract with a new WiFi provider for commuter rail it says will mean more reliable free access to e-mail for riders - and the option to add full Internet service for $15 a month.

InMotion Wireless will build a $5.6 million WiFi network for trains that will also cover commuter ferries and South, North and Back Bay stations, at no cost to the T. Installation begins this fall and will be fully complete in 18 months, the T says.

Under a 22-year license agreement, inMOTION will install, operate, and maintain a neutral, private, and dedicated WiFi network on all MBTA passenger coaches and ferries. MBTA customers will have free access to the internet, as well as a live television feed. Premium WiFi service, which allows customers to stream data and video, will be available for a fee of $15 per month. The MBTA will receive 7.5% of net revenue received from the WiFi program.

A spokesman elucidates:

Free service will allow the customer to perform email functions at regular speeds, to access to a live local TV broadcast (the actual station to be announced), but would limit the their internet browsing and "throttle" performance.

Premium service would allow for full access to the internet at regular speeds. They would have access to out of market TV broadcasts as well as their home internet providers.

In addition to the premium fee, InMotion will also get to offer ads on a splash screen shown to commuters connecting at the train stations.



    Free tagging: 


    Why pay for that when cell

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    Why pay for that when cell phone providers can offer a comparative data service that works everywhere?

    But on the ferries...

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    Don't these systems rely on wireless connections to work? (I can't imagine how else they would, satellite is too low-bandwidth) So if there's no cell coverage, there's nothing to connect to.


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    Warning: Nerdy Jargon Ahead - sorry.

    Ok, first off, the way you put it, it seems like you are saying that satellite based communications are not 'wireless' and are 'low bandwidth' - neither of which is true. However, satcom does not likely play a part here, so - onwards...

    More to the point, cellular phones are only one of the types of wireless data transport available. Yes, they are the most ubiquitous (these days), but there are plenty of others, some of which are much better suited to supporting big groups of internet users on buses/planes/boats (ie packet-based communications from multiple, physically isolated, rapidly moving hosts). Cellular phone networks are actually not particularly efficient at doing this, btw (not suprising, as they weren't designed for it).

    It looks like InMotion specializes in setting up those kinds of dedicated, long-distance wireless networks. And they hook up WiFi routers on the user end so their paying customers can just connect to the inet the way they normally do.

    Imprecise terminology

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    I used the term "wireless" as shorthand for "wireless phone network", as is commonly done- obviously I don't think you need to plug in a wire to a satellite.

    I'm surprised to see InMotion is constructing their own network for it, as all other internet services of this type I've seen piggy-backed on data networks owned by cellular phone companies (as the current Commuter Rail Connect) does. But they do seem to, and the premium charges and such do make more sense in that case.


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    Wait to take the sleeper car from South Station to West Rox!

    a brief summary

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    "We offer free wifi, however, if you would like the wifi to actually work, you will have to pay for that."

    I don't need to use it but I

    I don't need to use it but I'd prefer stable free internet for reading news or forums instead of having to share the bandwidth on the train clogged by the manchild 20 year old watching my little pony cartoons on netflix (this has happened).

    It will be free

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    on the fairmount line because they get preferential pricing!


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    Pricing here is bizarre, $2.10 from fairmount to south station? Isnt a subway ride $2.50 nowadays? I think they should tie it in with the subway (which I believe they plan to by 2024) but they could do it now if they gave you a transfer voucher if requested when you pay your fair to the conductor.

    Zone 1A

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    Is charged at the CharlieCard subway rate, versus Charlie Ticket subway rate - due to the no way to read Charlie Cards on commuter trains.

    Doesn't say

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    But if someone is watching porn on the commuter rail, you can be sure there will be throttling.

    "Regular speed" =

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    "Regular speed" = continuously getting kicked off & having to sign in again all the way to Rte 128 station. Never works for me. I turn off the wifi on my phone on the commuter train. Not worth the hassle.

    For the love of God, people,

    For the love of God, people, why fidget with crappy internet connections? Read a book instead.

    You'll be more relaxed and enjoy the delays more.

    Young masters if the universe excluded.

    Stations too?

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    I hope this means we'll actually get wifi at N and S Stations. Seems like a trivial thing that they could build in a weekend. I hope the contract requires them to upgrade the tech periodically. I don't expect my phone in 22 years to be compatible with today's wifi!