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Old 04-25-2005, 01:11 PM   #1
Colin Dunstan
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Surf wirelessly on the train at over 300km/h

A stable Wi-Fi broadband internet connection via satellite was successfully tested aboard a high-speed train – the Paris-Brussels route operated by Thalys. The record bandwidth attained was 4 Mbit/s downstream and 2 upstream at 300 km/h, comparable to the quality of an ADSL+ (asymmetric digital subscriber line plus) connection, a faster variant of DSL. This test was made possible with support from ESA (European Space Agency) and was implemented by the Anglo-Belgian operator 21Net with Siemens as technology partner. Siemens integrated the wireless broadband Wi-Fi network in the passenger cars and provided the complete management system including authentication and billing.

The 21Net system architecture is based on two-way Ku-band satellite transmission to provide connectivity between the internet backbone and a master server on the train. Direct reception of satellite television channels on the same satellite is also possible. A hub earth station provides the connection from the backbone (and from the network operations center) via the satellite directly to a low-profile tracking antenna on the train. GPRS and Wi-Fi access between the train and available networks (e.g. in stations and in tunnels) is also provided. On the train, Wi-Fi connections are used between the master server and customers with Wi-Fi enabled laptops and PDAs.

One major advantage of 21Net over Boeing's Connexion system is that the Ku-band antenna is considerably cheaper than Connexion's $1.3m USD phase array antenna.

Click here for the full press release, and here for more information on ThalysNet.
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