Wi-Fi Coming to Japan's Bullet Trains Next Year

Passengers on Japan's super-fast bullet trains will be able to surf the Web while travelling at 270 kilometers per hour thanks to a new service that will start in March.

NTT Communications will offer Wi-Fi service throughout cars on the new N700-type trains that offer the fastest rail link between Japan's two biggest cities of Tokyo and Osaka. The service will be an extension of the company's HotSpot service, which already offers access in shops, restaurants, hotels and other locations across Japan.

Connections of around 2M bps (bits per second) will be possible through the service, which will be provided by a "leaky coax" -- a wire travelling alongside the bullet train track from which signals can be sent and received wirelessly. At the same time NTT will also launch access in waiting lounges on all 17 stations along the route.

The service will be charged at the standard HotSpot rate, which is from ¥500 per day to ¥1,680 (US$5.73 to $19.25) for a monthly subscription.

Plans for a wireless Internet service on the bullet train were first announced in 2006 but were pegged to the launch of the N700 cars rather than a retrofitting of older trains with the technology.

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