High-speed internet on high-speed trains

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Shinkansen by Bistrosavage

When I was in Sweden last year, I enjoyed the fact that the rail service taking me from Malmö to Linköping offered WiFi on the trains, utilizing a combination of satellite, 3G and GSM for the uplink. I didn’t end up using it, choosing instead to sleep, but it was a reassuring feeling to know that I could Twitter my heart out should the feeling strike me in the Swedish countryside. Soon Japan will be taking things to the next level when NTT Communications offers WiFi service on the N700 high-speed bullet trains!

The mechanism for this is pretty cool: a leaky coax “wire travelling alongside the bullet train track from which signals can be sent and received wirelessly.” Throughput is expected to be about 2Mpbs, and monthly subscriptions will run from ¥500 (about $5.60 USD) per day to ¥1,680 (about $19 USD) for a monthly subscription.

The service is expected to start in March, and has been geared exclusively for the N700-series trains.

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