Broadband in trains

A pedagogical account of how broadband in trains (will) work on the ESA website:

21Net [Anglo-Belgian operator with Siemens as technological partner] is working to design and implement a Wi-Fi (Wireless LAN) access system for use on trains with the capability of multimedia, broadband internet and intranet access. The initial target market is high-speed trains in Western Europe where journey times allow for its use. (...) 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 centre) 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 (wireless LAN) connections are used between the master server and customers with Wi-Fi enabled laptops and PDAs

The project started on 1st March 2004 with the Baseline Design Review one month later. Two three-month trials on different high speed trains are foreseen in October-December 2004 and February- April 2005. The project is expected to be concluded in May 2005.

Now it works on the french/belgian Thalys network.