WiFi and Mass Transit


One of the great things about my job is that there are lots of interesting opportunities.  For example, I had a meeting with the Utah Transit Authority today.  We were discussing wide area networks for connecting up busses, police cruisers, and other field workers (of which we have a lot).  This is a challenge when 80% of your land area contains less that 20% of the population.  Still, there's some interesting things happening there.  More on that subject later. 

While we were talking, we got around to WiFi.  UTA has plans to install WiFi access points at the stations along the TRAX (light rail) line.  This is pretty easy to do since they already have network access at each station.  The question remains whether commuters will have access to the network or not.  I'd like to see it taken one step further and have Internet access on the train itself.  That would sure get my attention as a commuter. 

The big question is whether this would be a service offered to promote commuting or as a revenue source.  I know plenty of people who would pay $10/month to have Internet access while they ride the train.  It would be pretty easy to do using a captive portal.  Have users establish an account and then give them a token each time they log in that's good for an hour of access (long enough to go end to end).    We even got in a conversation about warchalking!