Internet on the train

Broadband Internet access via satellite is being offered to passengers on the Thalys train running between Brussels and Paris.

Thanks to the support of the European Space Agency (ESA), broadband Internet access via satellite is being offered to passengers on the Thalys train running between Brussels and Paris.

An initial three-month pilot service will test the performance of the technology as well as assess customer interest.

Developed by the UK based company 21Net, the system ensures that all passengers on each carriage receive equal access to the Internet and can work on their Wi-Fi enabled PCs as if they were in their own office as the Thalys dashes across Europe.

The Internet connection is made through a satellite-tracking antenna fixed to the roof of one of the carriages, while specially developed software maintains a continuous two-way link with the host satellite.

The connection is continuous even though the satellite is at an altitude of 36,000 km and the train is travelling at 300 km/h. The system potentially could deliver news and weather reports and even films – all streamed straight to passenger laptops.