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Friday, July 09, 2004Millions of passengars commute all over the world daily through public transport. Providing Internet access on vessels and vehicles is not as simple as adding it to a fixed venue, like a restaurant or even a convention center. Boats, buses and trains have metal skins or hulls that block wireless signals. They move, often at average speeds of 20 to 100 miles per hour, requiring a system that can rapidly and seamlessly hand off a signal. And they could have large numbers of simultaneous users, many of whom are already working on laptops during the voyage. Transport service companies have taken various approaches: relying on a combination of cellular towers and satellite data links, erecting dedicated antennas in a line of sight or at points along the route, or limiting service just to terminals or stations on either end of a run.Airlines, too, are looking at making Wi-Fi connections available to passengers, and face some of the same challenges. Two competing services, Connexion by Boeing and Tenzing, provide Internet access (at $10 to $30 per flight) by connecting to satellites relaying service from the ground. Many service providers hope to project this facility as an incentive to convince more to use public transport all over the world.
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