East Coast Trains drop free WIFI. Time to consider flying?

13 Oct 2010

WIFI is absolutely essential for those working on the move. This is one reason why free WIFI is popping up all over the place. Cafes, public places with nearby shops and even petrol stations (service stations) are offering free WIFI as a way of enticing customers to use their services or visit their premises. This trend is set to continue. Surely.

Today I'm making my fortnightly trip to London from Dundee. I normally get an East Coast mainline train direct from Dundee to London but today, since I need to be in London earlier, I got a Scotrail train from Dundee to Edinburgh and then caught the 08:00 East Coast train to London. I've just set up my laptop to be presented with a brand new login screen and to my surprise only 15 minutes of free WIFI.

We've made a significant investment to improve our on-board Wi-Fi. To ensure our new service is faster and more reliable, we're introducing a payment system for Standard Class passengers – however, every Standard Class passenger will get 15 minutes free Wi-Fi per journey. On-board Wi-Fi is free to all First Class passengers. In Standard Class passengers get 15 minutes free usage and extra usage costs £4.95 per hour and £9.95 for 24 hours.

Let me start by saying I can't even login. When I try to login I get a connection error. Not a good start. Even if I could login to the new system to get my 15 minutes of free WIFI I don't think I would bother. Over the past 7 months I've chosen to make my journey to London via train as it offers a much more pleasant experience than the faffing around you have to do when flying - driving out to an airport, parking, getting a bus into the airport terminal, checking in, get through security (shoes off, belt off, laptop out of bag, feel me up, fuck off!) and then cramming yourself into a plane for an hour before having to then pick up your hold luggage and make your way, via train, into London. During these 7 months the WIFI service on the East Coast trains has been average to say the least. Quite frequently you can't connect - no change there then. Other times it's unbelievably slow. Maybe the "significant investment" will improve this but they've not made a good start.

The other major benefit from travelling by train is that it offers a comfortable enough experience for you to actually get some work done. I'm a Real-Time Web Software Evangelist (today anyway) so clearly connection to the Internet is pretty high on my list of requirements for any working environment. Up until today East Cost trains offered this. 15 minutes of free WIFI won't do for my 5+ hour journey.

It looks like I'm either going to have to book early and try and get a cheap first class ticket, stump up £9.95 for standard class WIFI access or think about flying. Yuck!

How have I posted this? Using network tethering. Maybe this is the way forward?


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