WiFi on BART? Keep Waiting

Technology costs $100,000 per mile, commuters left in dark.

By Chris Roberts
|  Thursday, May 17, 2012  |  Updated 1:05 PM PDT
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WiFi on BART? Keep Waiting

BART

Looks sleek. But no universal WiFi -- yet.

You can use the Internet while riding BART. Just as long as you bring your own.

The transit network promised to bring Bay Area commuters WiFi on all cars by 2010, the San Francisco Chronicle observed. But to date, only "spotty service" exists between Oakland downtown and the Balboa Park station in San Francisco -- and nothing else throughout.

That's because the private company managing BART's Internet pays $100,000 a mile to install the hot new hotspot technology -- and funding for such an endeavor keeps drying up, the newspaper reported.

Sacramento-based WiFi Rail says that their technology doesn't need cellular reception and instead makes BART cars themselves mobile hotspots, the newspaper reported. That is, as long as there's service along the line on which you're riding.

WiFi Rail signed a 20-year contract with the transit agency in 2009, and just recently finished phase 2 of a five-phase installation timetable, the newspaper reported.

In the future, WiFi Rail will be able to charge for the service. In the meantime, BART pays nothing, as do passengers, the newspaper reported.

Nothing for nothing? Fair deal, at least.

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