Should Amtrak implement Starlink on long distance trains?

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JermyZP

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Starlink is a satellite internet service that covers a majority of the earth surface. Right now it's in beta testing but it's planning to have fast and reliable internet anywhere in the world. I think it would be best if Amtrak study a possible implementation of Starlink on long distance trains. Maybe the equipment can be stored In the baggage car to keep within the clearance or even include it as a requirement on replacement LD cars? What are your thoughts on this idea?
 

flitcraft

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Welp...probably not, at least not the version currently being beta-tested. Starlink review: broadband dreams fall to Earth
If you don't feel like reading the whole story, just skip down to the part where it says if there is a single tree in the way of the signal, it won't work. Seems like a deal-breaker for LD trains that run in areas with trees, which is most of them most of the time.
 

west point

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Maybe the tree problem can be mitigated by multiple antennas on different cars ? If antennas are automatically steerable that might mitigate the cell phone reception problem ?
 

jis

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It might make more sense to entice some cellular operator to put up filler towers.

The Europeans adopted GSM-R as a standard and installed it along all rail routes. They are able to steal channels in the GSM-R infrastructure to provide internet connectivity reliably on trains. We have a per railroad network using various different standards with no commitment to provide any communication connectivity beyond what is minimally required for PTC. As mentioned in the article our Telecom policy is truly f*cked up, discouraging competition and encouraging facility based monopoly. We live in a through the looking glass world of facility monoploly based make believe competition as far as telecom goes.
 

me_little_me

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It might make more sense to entice some cellular operator to put up filler towers.

The Europeans adopted GSM-R as a standard and installed it along all rail routes. They are able to steal channels in the GSM-R infrastructure to provide internet connectivity reliably on trains. We have a per railroad network using various different standards with no commitment to provide any communication connectivity beyond what is minimally required for PTC. As mentioned in the article our Telecom policy is truly f*cked up, discouraging competition and encouraging facility based monopoly. We live in a through the looking glass world of facility monoploly based make believe competition as far as telecom goes.
We do have some terrible policies. But remember when cellphone service first came out, there were no standards so companies like Verizon, AT&T and others devised their own systems. Then the Europeans saw the different systems and basically went with one like AT&T - GSM. It sometimes pays to be the first and sometimes pays to see what others have done and pick one of them.

No different than the Edison DC/Wesinghouse AC and the Beta/VHS video tape differences and so many others.
 

jis

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We do have some terrible policies. But remember when cellphone service first came out, there were no standards so companies like Verizon, AT&T and others devised their own systems. Then the Europeans saw the different systems and basically went with one like AT&T - GSM. It sometimes pays to be the first and sometimes pays to see what others have done and pick one of them.

No different than the Edison DC/Wesinghouse AC and the Beta/VHS video tape differences and so many others.
In the context of the discussion in this thread, the important thing is that the European Railways decided to install an infrastructure that can be used on the side to provide reliable internet service on trains, where we have failed miserably. All that happened way after GSM or the other standards were developed and adopted.

It did not matter specifically that GSM was adopted by the European railways, but that they agreed on a standard instead of each going their own way. It was hard for them to arrive at that and they struggled even more mightily to agree on their equivalent of PTC system - ETCS/ERTMS.

For us, on the consumer communication technology side it was a failure of policy governance and not of technology or standards and it is not limited to good facilities only on trains. Facilities in rural areas suck almost as bad if not worse.

In some sense the same malady that thwarts good rail service in general in the US, also thwarts provision of good internet service on trains and across the country. It is the weird way in which facility based monopolies have been adopted as the gold standard. This is explained well in the article referred to above in this thread.
 

neroden

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In some sense the same malady that thwarts good rail service in general in the US, also thwarts provision of good internet service on trains and across the country. It is the weird way in which facility based monopolies have been adopted as the gold standard. This is explained well in the article referred to above in this thread.
The Republican Party has a long history (well, since the late 1980s) of actively promoting facility-based monopolies. As far as I can tell, this is the reason. It is what it is.
 

JoshP

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The answer is No. Waste of investment. First improve the system, bring dining back to all routes, upgrade train fleets and all that FIRST before doing this.
 

me_little_me

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The answer is No. Waste of investment. First improve the system, bring dining back to all routes, upgrade train fleets and all that FIRST before doing this.
For a company who totally flopped in their pandemic response from beginning to end; whose "millenniums like it food policy" was their version of New Coke; whose web site is unbelievably obsolete; and who can't get 25 new sleepers employed after a couple of years, I'd say that if they can't handle their primary job, how are they going to implement something on the peripheral. For examples of their ability on those things, look at the "teasing of new linens" taking 2 years and promises of paying with both points and cash not implemented after 5+ years.
Boobs don't become intelligent by working on projects outside of their "expertise". Or, as I would put it, virtually all of Amtrak management are a shining examples of the Peter Principle. On the other hand, to give them credit, they have proved that if Darwin's theories about the survival of the fittest was applied to railroad operations, he would today be thrown out of the scientific community as a charlatan.
 
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jis

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Actually Darwin’s theory applies perfectly to railroads. The question is what the natural selection criteria are in the environment. They are not the ones we would like, but that does not make them unnatural in that environment😏
 
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IndyLions

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They run fiber optic lines along rail lines all the time - you could run a transmission line for cellular service along the right of way. Then trees/tunnels/etc. have no impact on the availability of signal. Of course, as long as private companies own the rail infrastructure (not to mention the disaster that is our fractured cellular infrastructure), there is no incentive for it to ever happen.
 

jis

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They run fiber optic lines along rail lines all the time - you could run a transmission line for cellular service along the right of way. Then trees/tunnels/etc. have no impact on the availability of signal. Of course, as long as private companies own the rail infrastructure (not to mention the disaster that is our fractured cellular infrastructure), there is no incentive for it to ever happen.
This is exactly what they have done all over Europe, and you are exactly right as to why we cannot manage to do any such thing.
 

Nick Farr

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Maybe the tree problem can be mitigated by multiple antennas on different cars ? If antennas are automatically steerable that might mitigate the cell phone reception problem ?
Starlink only just applied for FCC clearance to operate on moving vehicles. The tech probably exists, but is a long ways away.

European rail internet coverage is not a fair comparison with US LD routes. There is no stretch in Europe such as the one between, say, Salt Lake and Reno.

It is possible to provide internet coverage in those areas--but the cost would not correspond to the benefit.

Maybe, instead, why don't we preserve these stretches on the LD network as internet-free zones?
 

Cal

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Starlink only just applied for FCC clearance to operate on moving vehicles. The tech probably exists, but is a long ways away.

European rail internet coverage is not a fair comparison with US LD routes. There is no stretch in Europe such as the one between, say, Salt Lake and Reno.

It is possible to provide internet coverage in those areas--but the cost would not correspond to the benefit.

Maybe, instead, why don't we preserve these stretches on the LD network as internet-free zones?
If we want Amtrak to appeal to more people, I think wifi is a great start. Personally I could go without, but I feel it’d make it easier for people to say yes to trying Amtrak
 
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