Commuter rail riders have long complained about the sluggish internet service provided on morning commutes, but those days may soon become a thing of the past.
The MBTA announced Thursday that it has signed a contract with a small internet company that pledged to install a sophisticated WiFi system along the 14 stops of the Boston Commuter Rail line. The WiFi network will also extend to South, North and Back Bay stations as well as commuter ferries.
“This is a very exciting time for our Commuter Rail system,’’ General Manager Beverly Scott said in a statement. “While the introduction of new locomotives and new coaches will continue to improve on-time performance rates, customer service initiatives like WiFi and eTicketing make the overall commuting experience an even better one.’’
The improvements will take place over 18 months and commuters may have to wait until 2016 to enjoy the speedier service.
The improvements are slated to cost about $5.6 million—and neither the MBTA nor its patrons are going to have to pay a cent. The private company, inMOTION, has promised to foot the bill.
The plans involve installing a state-of-the-art fiber optic network along commuter rail tracks, creating a network so extensive that suburban areas lining the track may even be able to use it, according to The Boston Business Journal.
Once installed, there will be two tiers of WiFi access. Basic service will remain free. But a pricier option, available for $15 a month, will let subscribers stream videos on their daily commute.
The company also plans to install television sets with live television. The advertising content will be tailored to the areas that the train passes.
The MBTA will get 7.5 percent of profits from the streaming service.
InMOTION, a small startup based in Illinois, replaces AT&T, which had previously provided the notoriously slow internet access along the route.
The company is likely here to stay. The most recent contract lasts 22 years and, according to The Boston Business Journal, inMOTION has already made plans to set up a Boston office.