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Amtrak Picks PointShot WiFi

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Light Reading
10/16/2003
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OAKLAND, Calif. and OTTAWA -- Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) and PointShot Wireless today announced a three-month "Wi-Fi" or wireless fidelity trial for Amtrak's Capitol Corridor intercity train service, operating between the Sierra foothills, Sacramento, Oakland/San Francisco and San Jose, California. Wireless Internet connectivity will be available along the 170-mile rail corridor for passengers wishing to work, communicate and be entertained while traveling.

Amtrak's Capitol Corridor is the first U.S. intercity rail operator to offer Wi-Fi as a differentiated onboard service. It has installed PointShot Wireless' RailPoint Wi-Fi solution on one car to gauge demand for Wi-Fi, establish operational parameters and determine the feasibility of expanding the program. The Wi-Fi solution will debut on Train 534 today, and cycle through other trains within the service. The first month of the Wi-Fi pilot will be free, with minor usage charges for the remaining two months. Amtrak's Capitol Corridor passengers only need a Wi-Fi-enabled laptop computer or PDA to access the broadband wireless service.

The pilot program provides an opportunity for Amtrak's Capitol Corridor to better serve the community of business and leisure travelers in the corridor. Informal polling of passengers by Amtrak's Capitol Corridor found that customers, many of whom are technologically savvy, are eager to be more productive while in transit, leaving more time for family and other interests when they arrive home.

Jim Allison, senior planner for the CCJPA, said, "We installed PointShot's Wi-Fi solution due to the growing demand from our customers to include this type of service in our offerings. We are allowing users to make the best use of their time while traveling, which in turn leads to increased customer loyalty and new passengers who opt to take the train rather than drive or fly."

PointShot Wireless' RailPoint(TM) is a mobile wireless solution that lets rail operators, such as Amtrak's Capitol Corridor, better attract travelers by using Wi-Fi to introduce new customer loyalty programs and increase revenues. In addition to connecting passengers to work, communication and entertainment, PointShot Wireless' RailPoint solution also allows Amtrak's Capitol Corridor transit operators to connect to ticketing applications in real-time.

"Our Wi-Fi trial with Capitol Corridor is yet another example of the growing demand for mobile services and underscores the growing popularity of Wi-Fi services in mobile environments," said Shawn Griffin, president and CEO of PointShot Wireless. "Our RailPoint solution uses Wi-Fi to help rail operators differentiate themselves from other transport services, better serve their customers and operate more efficiently."

For the next 12 months, CCJPA will conduct Wi-Fi trials on other train cars in its fleet. Before the end of the testing period, CCJPA and the California Department of Transportation will develop a proposal for the entire state-funded Intercity Rail service to be equipped with Wi-Fi equipment. The California Department of Transportation operates Amtrak's San Joaquin and Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner Intercity Passenger Rail services. The U.C. Berkeley-based California Center for Innovative Transportation is a partner in helping State Intercity Train services outfit the entire fleet of California cars in the late fall/early winter of 2004.

PointShot Wireless enables the Wi-Fi service with a satellite-delivered broadband downlink and cellular uplink to an onboard Wi-Fi access point. The RailPoint solution also has software that provides the Internet access, a gateway and the 802.11 access point.

PointShot Wireless Inc.

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