Train connection

20121113-213332.jpgI am writing this on a train, racing from Amsterdam to Paris. There is some doubt whether I will be able to post it from the train.

Thalys promises wifi is available on this trip. But the service is intermittent at best. When it does work it’s incredibly slow, and the whole user experience is horrendous.

Here’s what I’d like; a code included on my ticket that gave me access to the Thalys wifi network, the code could be time-limited, so only valid for the time of my journey. If it was really clever it would know when my train had arrived in Paris and only then switch off the wifi access. All the pieces to build this exist, there is no radically new technology in this.

Actually here’s what I’d really like; free open access for the duration of my journey.

What I got:
– option to select country/language
– forced to create an account, which might sound like a great way to collect email addresses except that I gave them my real email address to receive the ticket and now I’m telling them my spam account.
– asked to state my nationality and language preference (I lied)
– asked to give my name and family name (I lied)
– asked to answer a secret question (my favourite colour is green)

Then asked to login.

I got online briefly, and then off, then on, then slow, then off. On top of which I am regularly asked to login again, and if I click refresh while the wifi is not available I am thrown int the portal page… In French. Despite having specified my language preference. Twice. Just for fun something about the Thalys portal regularly crashes the browser (safari + iPad).

Good wifi seems to be very challenging to set up for large numbers of users, and doing so on a moving vehicle even more challenging. But Virgin Airlines do it. At 10,000 metres above the earth.

So it can not be impossible to have a good consistent service on a train, and it must be possible to improve the user experience of using the wifi while on board.

as predicted I could not upload this on the train, but I might have to take back a previous rant – I’m in a mid-level hotel in Paris which offers free wifi

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