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To Lure Travelers, Trains and Planes Start Competing on Faster Wi-Fi

Passengers exit an Amtrak train after arriving at Union Station in Washington on Feb. 15
Passengers exit an Amtrak train after arriving at Union Station in Washington on Feb. 15Photograph by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

In the travel industry, the quality of Internet access on offer is quickly emerging a major way distinguish a hotel or airline. Even Amtrak, which has long been notorious for its glacial Wi-Fi, is now getting into the travel broadband race.

Amtrak is soliciting proposals for how to create a broadband network aboard its Washington-Boston trains. The railroad wants to overcome its current restrictions on bandwidth per passenger and eliminate coverage gaps on its 457-mile Northeast Corridor, the most trafficked in Amtrak’s network. The goal is to boost current speeds from 10 Mbs to at least 25 Mbs and beyond—ultimately reaching speeds fast enough for streaming video.