urban75 blog

First Great Western free train Wi-Fi: slower than a valium infused sloth at bedtime

I thought I’d share the moan I registered on the urban75 boards about the useless wi-fi service I encountered on my journey up to Cardiff last week.

On my trip up from London I noticed that First Great Western (FGW) was now offering free in-train, wi-fi.

“Great,” I thought, “I can get some work done on the move and not have to rely on my phone’s signal.”

So I quickly connected, went through the compulsory registration bit via my web browser and then waited to bask in the high speed wi-fi glory of the move.

And then I waited. And waited. And then realised that the connection is so slow that it’s actually pointless.

Basic, text-only web pages would take so long to download that a 1200 bit/s modem from the 90s would look like the devil’s work in speed compared to what was available on the train.

I tried reconnecting several times, but the connection remained almost comically bad. I eventually gave up and went back to using my mobile as a hot spot.

Naturally, First Great Western’s web page about the service is plastered in caveats:

Public WiFi bandwidth is shared and this means speeds aren’t always the same – i.e. on busier trains, you might find the service is slower than on quieter trains.

To make sure everyone has the best experience possible we also operate a fair use policy which will reduce the speed of your connection if you download more than 10MB a journey.

Now, I’m all for a fair use policy when we’re talking about a free service, but I think I’d need to be on a FGW slow trip to the Moon before I’d get anywhere near using up 10MBs worth of data.

The service is so bad, they’d be better off giving up on it until they can actually offer something that works to a reasonable degree, as right now all it does is frustrate and annoy passengers (sorry, customers) – especially ones like me who had forked out 93-chuffing-quid for the return trip.

Sort it out please, FGW.

What do you think about the service? 

Add your comments below, or join in with the chat on the urban75 forums.