The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has given its clearance to the railways to offer internet connectivity in moving trains, using a satellite based connection through KU band frequency, reports DNA

In March 2012, K. H. Muniyappa, the Minister of State for Railways, had informed the Parliament of India, that the Railways was planning to provide Internet facility in three rakes (group of coaches or wagons) of Howrah Rajdhani Express on a pilot basis. The minister had stated that the facility would work on a satellite based system and that the connection will be shared across railway coaches through Wi-Fi. The service is expected to be rolled out by September 25, 2012 and is estimated to cost Rs 6.30 crore for the Railway department.

The DNA report mentions that the project was awaiting ISRO’s approval and cites a senior Railway ministry official who informs that work on the project will commence soon, as the Railways has got the approval.While the train will be connected to the satellite via a custom made antenna, the coaches will offer connectivity through Wifi routers. According to the report, commuters will be able to access the internet after dialing a phone number to get a password. The number would be provided by the TTE. We believe this would allow the railways to verify users, and maintain a record, to comply with the Cyber Cafe regulations. The name of the company which will deploy the project has not been revealed.

It must be noted that we’ve been hearing about the same pilot project for almost five years now. Back in 2006, Railtel had stated that it plans to offer WiFi services in Bangalore and Jaipur railway stations.

Indian railways had also undertaken similar pilots with other firms like Techno Sat Comm which hadrolled out its WiFi services on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Shatabdi Express and Zylog Systems India which had rolled out a wireless broadband service called Wi5 on the Chennai- Bangalore-Chennai Shatabdi Express. However, we have not found any updates regarding these projects since then.

Let’s hope this one sees the light of the day. We’re also a bit skeptical of satellite connectivity, since it offers very low  high latency and requires two way transmission.


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