The Need for Wireless Broadband Speed on Amtrak

Having been an early adopter of 2G, 1X, EVDO, 3G, etc I can tell you the speed of wireless access on the train between Washington DC and New York and back seems worse than at any point in recent memory. Here are some speed test results from AT&T Wireless and Verizon Wireless and you can see they are terrible. Actually they are much worse than the numbers here because of the frequent random delays. It is virtually impossible to work at such speeds and repeated tests show similar numbers and I have seen many speed tests freeze up.

This is the result of the Verizon Wireless speed test


The result of the tethered iPhone AT&T speed test


It is worth noting that the Verizon scores are based on the wireless modem in my Dell Latitude E6500 laptop while the AT&T score is based on a tethered iPhone. I have been getting complaints from three other TMC team members about Verizon on the train as well.

I expected the iPad to have stellar results thinking the faster processor would somehow do better than the tethered iPhone. No such luck though as the Speedtest X application pegs the download speed of the Apple tablet at the same virtually unusable speed as the iPhone/laptop combo.

It is worth mentioning these speeds vary – a pretty obvious point but regardless, I have found the wireless broadband speed on both these major networks to be painful and worse than at any point in the past I can recall. In fact I remember them as being much faster when there were less devices on train. It just goes to show you that people are really using their gadgets and that carriers are obviously overwhelmed and will be forced to continue to spend on backhaul solutions well into the future.

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