Wireless Coverage on CALTRAIN Is A Travesty (Verizon and Others)

Wireless Coverage on CALTRAIN Is very inconsistent

It seems like a sad state of affairs when one can get a better wireless signal on a daily commuter transit system in the outlying communities of Gilroy and San Martin (pronounced San Marteeeen) than in cities on The Peninsula of the Bay Area, such as Mountain View CA, Palo Alto CA and other locations. But it's true. And it's truly disappointing what a sad state of affairs our Wifi connections can get with our wireless providers.

UPDATE: I just spent the morning sitting next to someone on the train who has AT&T and during the entire trip, we compared signal strengths, and sure enough, AT&T had the superior coverage during the entire ride. VERY disappointing.

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I ride the Caltrain commuter transit system to work every day. Caltrain is a fairly busy transit system, boasting a daily ridership count of 63k persons a day (as of Jan 2018). The train route runs 79 miles from the far outlying suburbs of Gilroy (yes, the "garlic capital of the world," or so they call themselves) to the bustle of downtown San Francisco.

With a route that goes up the heavily populated Peninsula region and through some of the most expensive zip codes in America, you would think that the wireless providers like Verizon would make sure that those 63k riders a day have great wireless coverage throughout their ride.

And yet...

When I board Caltrain in Menlo Park to head south through Palo Alto, I have to scramble to get a signal on my Verizon powered phone before I leave Menlo Park or I hit the dead zone between Palo Alto and Menlo Park, or the huge dead zone just south of Palo Alto, the home to Stanford University.

As the trip transits south from Menlo Park, my Verizon carrier signal drops out and comes back way too often for my taste. Some of the dead zones are quite long, like the one that heads out of Palo Alto or the dead zone that surrounds Sunnyvale or other regions. There are even stops where it's not just a weak signal, but none what so ever.

But when I get on the train in Gilroy, 90 minutes south of Menlo Park... I have a solid signal.

At first I thought it was my provider, Verizon, (update: I proved today is IS my provider) but as I tweeted my frustration and chatted with other riders on the train and Twitter, to find out that other carriers seem to have the same issue. And it reached not just to the south of Menlo Park, but also north to 'Frisco.

So there are wireless dead zones up and down the entire Caltrain route.

With so many folks taking the train, you would think wireless providers like Verizon would make sure we have full connectivity throughout the ride. But as the Verizon provider mentioned, it's tough in spots to get a good signal from where the signal masts or towers are located.

It would be nice that they add one or two more towers throughout the route to help that. My thought is this: When establishing cell towers around the Peninsula region, who dropped the ball or did not care enough to put towers out there all along the Caltrain route? Or do they even care?

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  1. Not only are there dead zones, but where there is coverage its congested. I frequently can't pull better than 300 Kbps.


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