Cellular Data on VIA Rail (Toronto to Ottawa)

Cellular Tower, somewhere in Ontario...

Apologies for my absence on the front page yesterday. It was a travel day for my girlfriend and I; she’s on a business trip to our nation’s capital and I’m tagging along for the hotel breakfast. 😀

I actually haven’t had the pleasure of taking the train on the Toronto-Ottawa corridor for quite some time. Though there’s free WiFi on board I was more interested in my phone’s data connection. If you’re a Koodo subscriber you’ll be pleased to know that data service on this route is generally very good. There was only one 15-or-so-minute stretch where there was no service at all, and most of the time the signal was HSPA+ or better.

Given that Koodo is TELUS’ second-string player I would think that data service would be even better from the Big Three proper. And if you’re on WIND, well… at least you can roam?

For comparison’s sake, the times to beat are the readings I got for VIA’s onboard WiFi service. Here’s some sample numbers from just east of Oshawa, Ontario:

Ping: 117 ms
DL: 5.14 Mbps
UL: 4.69 Mbps

As you can imagine, WiFi speeds were fairly constant for the duration of the journey. I should note, though, that our car on this mid-morning train was almost empty; on a busy weekend train the WiFi service might well be worse.

Port Hope – HSPA+
Ping: 34 ms
DL: 1.90 Mbps
UL: 1.04 Mpbs

Belleville – LTE
Ping: 44 ms
DL: 12.47 Mbps
UL: 14.87 Mbps

Napanee – HSPA+
Ping: 43 ms
DL: 2.64 Mbps
UL: 3.56 Mbps

Amherstview – HSPA+
Ping: 55 ms
DL: 3.33 Mbps
UL: 1.72 Mbps

Kingston – LTE
Ping: 120 ms
DL: 23.43 Mbps
UL: 6.01 Mbps

Landsdowne – HSPA+
Ping: 353 ms
DL: 6.14 Mbps
UL: 1.53 Mbps

Brockville – LTE
Ping: 42 ms
DL: 25.07 Mbps
UL: 6.70 Mbps

Smith’s Falls – HSPA+
Ping: 74 ms
DL: 3.30 Mbps
UL: 1.17 Mbps

Fallowfield – LTE
Ping: 58 ms
DL: 34.51 Mbps
UL: 18.58 Mbps

Ottawa – LTE
Ping: 58 ms
DL: 24.48 Mbps
UL: 23.40 Mbps

The only complete signal drop I experienced was somewhere between Smith’s Falls and Fallowfield. And from the latter onwards to Ottawa it was pretty much LTE all the way. Using your phone’s data radio may run down your battery more than it would with WiFi, but it does have the added advantage of not giving VIA—and possibly others—permission to creep on you.

If you wanted to know more about VIA’s WiFi service I could write about that tomorrow. I’m personally more interested in your experiences with cellular data on the train. I honestly didn’t think it would be this good!