Via Rail Wifi Free On-Train Internet: Actually Works Quite Well

I believe that Via rail has seriously upgraded its on-train wifi service.

The Via Rail wifi service has received very poor reviews in the past.

I honestly couldn't really tell if the system was cellular based, or satellite based, as the latency hovered around 150-200ms.

The Via Rail wifi service just plain works, it's reliable and predictable. Far better than I expected for a mobile wifi service.

Did I also mention that it's free now???   

On a 2 hour trip, there only appeared to be a few dead spots where my streaming radio actually died out, and it was in a mini-canyon area in a rural area with plenty of foliage, so it wasn't unexpected.

The system blocks file downloads greater than 10mb, as well as heavy media sites like youtube and grooveshark. However, as I said, I found a streaming radio service that was unblocked that had made the (much-delayed) trip much more enjoyable :)

I had trouble logging into IRC, which I could not figure out why.

Via says that the service does not support VPN access, but I wasn't able to actually test this out. It does support SSL over Port 80, so, for the technically inclined, it supports everything :)

I tried making a VoIP call through my Nokia e63, and it was only slightly laggy, but quite choppy. Not bad for a quick phone call though. I was impressed.

Speed tests usually looked like the following:

This was one of my speedtests:

Not bad! Even if the system is satellite based, these definitely aren't (or don't feel like) geosynchronous satellites with their massive lag.

Via Rail wifi appears to be running a Barracuda bandwidth shaping/limiting system, which I can't really blame them for.            

They're also running a Squid-based transparent internet proxy, but I can't tell if it's running on the train itself (which would make a lot of sense), or at their headquarters (where any benefit is marginal). Some websites which I believe to be commonly accessed didn't "instantly" load, so I suspect that the proxy is off-train, or not very reliable.

Need a workaround? There's an

Need a workaround? There's an app for that... Go android.

wifi restrictions

one way certain sites were blocked. the other way the sites worked. they need to make it clear to the customers that they restrict usage.

Via Rail Wifi Free On-Train Internet: Actually Works Quite Well

Glad you found it a better experience, overall! I'll pass along the feedback

Vivian is Virtual
VIA Rail's tour guide

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