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What if the rails carried Internet bandwidth?
  [vote for,

They tried doing Internet over power lines, it failed long distance, but there is a network transformer that supposedly allows you to set up a home network using your internal power supply (using appliances like dishwashers at the same time will blow a fuse, though)

I thought...why not some other source of continous metal? Most countries have networks of rail. It's been proven that electric signals can go through the rail, most systems use them to activate crossing gates and trip signals (so that no train follows too close behind another one), and some systems use the rails for "return" of curent from overhead or third rail. Some systems may also send signals through the rails for "cab signalling" where the engineer/driver sees the signals inside the cab. The rails are much thicker than wires, right? There must be enough spare "bandwidth" to support thousands of terrabytes of information passing through each second. Some railroads sell rights to build fiber optic lines underneath the rail bed. But if they can tap into the rails, they'd have something. You may say "but what about the different types of electrical signals"? On Long Island, they have some sections of rails with filters, to make sure returned current (from third rail) and the "signals" for things like gate crossings don't go the wrong way. Do something like that! After all, the rail network goes everywhere. A perfect backbone for the 'net.

Raakone, Jun 13 2004

India Rail 'Net-Network http://www.whosea.org/isma/railnet.htm
One of many news reports about it. [Laughs Last, Oct 04 2004]

Philip Anschutz of Qwest http://www.kuhistor...printable.asp?id=77
Around paragraph 6: "Anschutz capitalized in the mid-90s on his railroad holdings to break into the new high-tech economy....proceeded to buy up telecommunications companies (such as Dallas-based Qwest) and use his railroad holdings to install fiber-optic cables along the rail lines themselves." [krelnik, Oct 04 2004]

TiSP http://www.google.com/tisp/
brought to you by Google [nuclear hobo, May 06 2007]


       IP over power lines works fine over largish distances. Aside from crossing approaches, I don't believe railroad tracks form a continuous piece of metal longer than the individual rails. I may be wrong.
phoenix, Jun 13 2004

       That would be an interesting solution if nearly every house had a rail to its doorstep (like the power line), but that is not the case. For use as main trunk line rails don't have enough bandwidth, not even coax cable has that. So far only glas fiber bundles (not just single fibers) can carry data at multi Tbaud rates.   

       Now, if you can make glas fiber bundles strong enough to carry trains, then you will have a winner.
kbecker, Jun 13 2004

       This has been done in India. I'll see if I can find a link. There is a chance that it is already linked to from this site somewhere.
Laughs Last, Jun 13 2004

       It looks like my reading comprehension is poor these days, as you are quite right.
Laughs Last, Jun 14 2004

       Existing Internet backbone companies like Level 3 and Qwest have spent the past several years burying thousands of miles of fiber optic cable along railroad right-of-ways (in the US, at least). Combined with the bandwidth glut caused by the dot-com bust, I think this means there would be very little market for your idea in the west. Perhaps it would fly in developing countries. See link for a bio of Philip Anschutz, an oilman who invested lots of money in doing this.
krelnik, Jun 14 2004

       [sitting at rail crossing, waiting for extra-long train to pass]   

       "Damn spammers, hogging all the bandwidth..."
normzone, Jun 14 2004

       a)the rail networks are not continuous stretches of metal they have gaps in-between to allow for expansion of the metal during extreme temperature   

       b) even if it were possible the network would be very insecure allowing communication to be tapped very easily
ray_da, Jun 14 2004


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