Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Latvian Railways offers WiFi on Moscow trains

Latvian Railways (Latvijas Dzelzceļš) in cooperation with the wireless telecommunications company Triatel will start offering free wireless internet access from October 1 on its daily trains from Riga to Moscow. The service will be available along the entire route from Riga to the Latvian-Russian border at Zilupe, allowing passengers to surf the internet for just over four hours. WiFi internet is not available once the train crosses into Russia. It is understood the service will also be available on Latvian-operated trains on the return leg of the trip on Latvian territory.
The internet on the train service is apparently provided through Triatel's EV-DO wireless internet network, which offers users speeds of up to 3.1 Mbps on direct connections. Evidently the WiFi on the train will re-route signals from Triatel towers and base stations along the railway right of way allocating adequate bandwidth to each train passanger using the service, rather than sharing a single 3.1 Mbps link to the whole train.
Latvian Railways will be holding a press conference on October 1 at Riga's main train station to explain details of the new service.
The internet-on-a-train is the latest project in which Triatel has teamed up with a major Latvian or international enterprise to co-sell or resell its wireless internet services. Triatel has been cooperating with Lattelecom to provide fixed wireless voice telephony and internet in remote rural locations, it has used the cable television and telecommunications services company IZZI as a reseller of its fixed wireless internet and just teamed up with the satellite TV company Viasat (part of the Swedish Modern Times Group)to offer a combined TV and internet packages (the television by satellite, the internet by EV DO) called Viasat Connect. Triatel is also behind a mobile internet service under development by Lattelecom (with USB plug modems), which are already being sold or leased to direct customers of Triatel and, apparently, as part of the ViaSat Connect package (the internet service is called " mobile").
With HSDPA networks run by the mobile operators in Latvia and offering speeds of up to 7.2 Mbps and possibly 14.4 Mbps in the near future, it may be time for Triatel to move to the next higher-speed generation of EV DO in order to keep up. LTE (promising an unlikely 100 Mbps, but probably a decent two-figure speed) is just around the corner, too, some say. Tele2 is building out in Sweden in 2010 and local sources say the Latvian "little brother" wants the same toys as the Swedes and soon!

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