Wi-Fi in NS trains, money for nothing?
When I was reading the article “I just had Wi-Fi!” by 333194ep on this blog, it emerged to me that not only at the university my devices struggle to connect properly with the available Wi-Fi network.
In 2010 the Dutch Railways (NS) started unroll free Wi-Fi in their intercity trains. The original plan was to offer Wi-Fi in all the Arriva and NS intercity trains from 2012, this deadline has been shifted to the end of 2013. The Dutch government subsidized this project with €15 million. The contract between NS and T-Mobile ended in April 2013, but was extended for another year. People feared for being charged, but NS confirmed that Wi-Fi will remain free in 2013 (NRC, 2013)(Tweakers.net, 2013).
When in the train, my mobile internet connection is usually very slow due to factors like the overhead lines or the frequent change of towers where my phone connects to (T-Mobile Forum, 2013). Therefore I liked Wi-Fi in the train, it sounds good! Another year free Wi-Fi in the train? Sounds even better! But how happy should we be with this free service? My own experiences are not that good. The Wi-Fi signal itself is very good usually, but the speed of the data transfer is terribly slow. Searching on the internet (like 333194ep, at home with a good connection), I found people expressing the same complaints.
Research done by the University of Twente and Agentschap Telecom (2012) showed that the efficiency of Wi-Fi in some cases drops below 20 percent in crowded environments with multiple networks and even more devices trying to connect. This reason might be the cause for the slow Wi-Fi connection I experience in the NS trains. In most cases I will turn my 3G internet connection back on because that is even faster than the provided Wi-Fi.
The researchers of the University of Twente and Agentschap Telecom call for a new Wi-Fi standard which can cope better with the busy scenarios. This made me think of the following question:
“is NS throwing money down the drain for nothing, by investing any further in a Wi-Fi network that is inefficient?”
What do you guys think? Of course, not only the inefficiency of the network should be taken into consideration. Also the upcoming 4G networks as mentioned in the blog “4G replacing our home internet connection” by Niels Diepens should be thought of.