Where’s the wifi on Metro North?

Aside from my own personal wifi, there is no wifi solution on the Metro North train and in 2009 it seems a bit lacking…  I spend an hour on the train in either direction though the average traveler (based on my observation) spends between 30 and 40 minutes per trip.  There are plenty of devices here – laptops, smartphones, and portable game systems.  Most of these things can connect over wifi and while most people are perhaps not obsessing over their RSS feeds or email, I would see a very reasonable pick-up on a connection if it was available.

I’ve reported previously on the Cablevision wifi which has popped up at various stations, but that’s impossible to use while moving.  Aside from a few dead spots (which could perhaps be filled by the carrier providing the service) wireless connectivity would be a killer addition to the commute.  I could see purchasing it as part of the monthly pass – right from the kiosk.  In fact that would easily work for a day pass just as easily …

This is the New York Metro area … I know we are not the most wired city in America, but it’s 2009 and things should be here by now.

Optimumwifi goes live in Westchester

I believe I’d previously covered the announced rollout of Cablevision‘s metro wifi network and it seems to have actually gone live now. I see it along my Metro North commute as we pass through the various stations and while I have not had a chance to test the connection speed it feels quite peppy. As a Cablevision Optimum Online subscriber I get access for free which is a nice bonus. I think everyone else is SOL as Ii did not see any way to pay for the connection when I started browsing from my Nokia E71.

Before you get too excited about wifi on the train though, this service has been clearly designed for fixed mobile connectivity. It only works within range of the stations – not while the train is cruising along. I realize that’s considerably more challenging and expensive but it actually offers some real value as well. 3G from ATT, Sprint and Verizon is easily accisible and while it might be slow and victim to things like the dead spots we all deal with in our part of the woods, it works at 70 MPH from the comfort of your seat and was the only way I could connect and post this from the train.

I suppose the main beneficiaries of this service are the businesses near the stations who can suddenly offer wifi connectivity to their patrons. Of course you still need a login from your home connection unless someone wants to get more creative and re-stream things with a router…

I would like to suggest that Cablevision alter their authetication method a bit for mobile users. The page certainly rendered well for the handset, but keeping a browser window open to stay connected is ridiculous. I’ll have to try using devicescape one of these days to see if that makes things easier.