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Internet Access From An Amtrak Train
Live From The California Zephyr
Tuesday, June 22, 1997, 4:59 P.M.
In The Sierra Nevada Range

Using a notebook computer attached to a cellular modem, you can access the Interner from an Amtrak train! You can check your e-mail, browse the web, obtain information (even from Amtrak's online reservation system), and even update your own web pages while you are on an Amtrak train!

Right now it is 4:59 P.M. on Tuesday, June 22, 1997, and I am on the Amtrak California Zephyr somewhere in the Sierra Nevada Range. By the time I transmit this message, I'll probably be somewhere between Truckee, California and Reno, Nevada. Right now we are going over the Donner Pass and I have a view of the Donner Lake out my window.

About 3 years ago I purchased a Motorola Micro T-A-C LITE cellular phone with data capability specifically for the purpose of being able to dial-up to the internet over this phone. I also purchased the only modem card that I could find which supported cellular communications. That worked a few times, but was so unreliable, that I gave up trying to use my notebook computer with my cellular phone.

Here it is, 3 years later, and I thought it was time I purchased a modem card with a little more speed for my notebook computer. I didn't intend to purchase one with cellular capability at all, but I found one in the store for sale by the same company that manufactured by cellular phone, Motorola. I figured they have to be compatible with each other since they are both Motorola. The box for the Motorola card even indicated that it was designed to work with the Micro T-A-C and all the cables and software needed to set it up are included!

So, I installed the card and it worked perfect on the first shot! I tried it from home first, but to give it the real test, I used it while traveling on the San Joaquins this morning. It worked great! I was able to upload a few new web pages and download my e-mail.

Due to the high roaming costs of cellular and even the unreliability of communication from a moving vehicle, using a cellular modem for a long internet session is not practical at this time. However, it is great to upload a few web pages that have already been prepared and to get your latest e-mail. I download my e-mail, hang up the phone, answer my e-mail offline, then go back on-line to upload my replies. This keeps my cellular connect time and bill down to a minimum while still keeping me in touch while on the train!

I'm going to be on the train from now until Friday afternoon, July 25, 1997 and then again from Sunday afternoon, July 27 to Tuesday morning, July 29, 1997. If you'd like a reply from me from the train, please do go ahead and write me at I'll try to answer your e-mail from the train. If I get too many e-mail messages, I might just have to send out a form letter reply to everyone, but I will try to send you a live reply right from the Amtrak train!

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