The Wi-Fi train has reached the station. Commuters in and out of Silicon Valley will be the first in the United States to experience wireless Internet access while riding the rails.
A three-month trial will begin in September for riders of Altamont Commuter Express, or ACE Rail. It’s free during the trial; fees for later have yet to be determined.
The rail line carries about 1,300 passengers a day on round trips between Stockton and San Jose. Most of them are aboard the train for at least one hour, and many are laptop-toting high-tech or business employees.
Wi-Fi, a short-range technology that stands for wireless fidelity, is showing up in a growing number of public spaces, including cafes, McDonald’s restaurants, parks and airports. ACE Rail’s Wi-Fi networks will get their Internet connections from a satellite.
PointShot Wireless, a Canadian company that is providing ACE with Wi-Fi equipment, said another California commuter rail line from the Sacramento suburbs to Oakland and San Jose plans a similar trial.
PointShot has already set up a system for train riders between Montreal and Toronto. Virgin Trains also expects to announce Wi-Fi service plans for its London-area commuters later this year.
“It’s a tremendously ripe market,” said Keith Waryas, an industry analyst with IDC. “It makes a lot of sense to have this network in motion.”