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BART train heading towards San Francisco  (Source: S.F. Chronicle)
The San Francisco Bay Area train system will have system wide Internet WiFi in the future

Do you ride public transportation?  If so, you may have noticed more buses and train systems that are utilizing wireless Internet access for customers to use while en route to their destination.  The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system -- a San Francisco Bay Area train system -- plans to expand its wireless internet to cover all trains and stations.

"This is a unique opportunity to demonstrate what high-speed Wi-Fi access, interconnected by a huge fiber optic backbone, can mean to a transit system and its passengers," Wi-Fi Rail Inc. CEO Cooper Lee said.

Some trains have Wi-Fi internet access already, but this 20-year agreement will cover 104 miles of track and all 43 BART stations with Internet by 2012.  Wi-Fi Rail will pay the entire cost of the $20 million internet installation, and BART riders will have the option of paying daily, monthly or annual subscription fees for the connection.

Wi-Fi Rail hasn't publicly announced exact pricing, but it appears users will pay $30 per month, $9 per day, $6 for two hours, or $300 per year for the service until it's fully operational.  Both companies will share revenue, but exact numbers were not revealed.

A free service will be available, but it offers a catch designed to get people to sign up for the day pass.  Internet will be available in 3 1/2 minute blocks before being turned off so a 30-second advertisement can be played before internet service is restored, the San Francisco Chronicle learned.

Rather than use satellite or cellular service to offer internet to riders, the company will install fiber optic equipment to offer more reliable, faster speeds.  Assuming it works well, Wi-Fi Rail hopes to use the BART system as an example when contacting future clients.

During a 12-month trial done in four downtown San Francisco stations and a couple miles of track in the San Francisco East Bay, 15,000 people registered for the free service while it was used 85,000 times per day, Wi-Fi Rail said.

BART and Wi-Fi officially signed the new contract on Friday, and will begin installation shortly.

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RE: Who Cares
By SunAngel on 2/1/2009 6:32:06 AM , Rating: 2
i'm not a resident of the s.f.b.a. but nevertheless found it interesting. it seems the s.f.b.a. and the puget sound are in a fierce battle to see who can be the most connected area (in the united states). if there wasn't soo much 'pipe dreaming' going on in the s.f.b.a. it would easily hold the title of the most connected area.

RE: Who Cares
By Shida on 2/1/2009 5:00:47 PM , Rating: 2
First off, sorry for the very first post I made. I typed it while depraved of coffee.

Second, SunAngel, the reason that these projects never go sky high is that the public fears deals where companies, like Earthlink or Google-both which tried to do that whole city-wide Wi-Fi project but failed, are just going to treat the whole thing like Comcast does with just having temporary exclusive contracts to the local municipalities in providing content and being a sole provider(s) of that particular municipality.

Now that system is something that, if renewed constantly, will become more and more expensive (or that's what the fear usually is on behalf of those against it). So there's conflicts on these sorts of issues and it never goes off the ground because of it. Now, granted, there are some things that are valid in the local tax payers fears because this is how we have ended up, again, with just Comcast being the "official" sole cable provider for the city of San Francisco.

Now Translink is just taking time because they are rapidly expanding from different county and municipal service and trying to adapt to those systems services. But the complaint of this, like all other similar technological solution implementations, is that it's ridiculous on how it's executed-from conception to finalization (if it ever does).

So what then? Well...all we can say is call it a mere "pipe-dream". Especially with those kinds of estimates.

Here's another question, now that I think about it: as the Translink cards are RFID type cards (and plus with credit cards going RFID), would implementing a Wi-fi network just increase the chances of having someone steal your information?

I just question these things because, really, if we can't get just one system going, then why bother in bringing more technology that is only going to make identify theft problems worse? Conventional thinking, sure I admit to that, but can someone help me out here?

"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet.  A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis

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