Amtrak and Megabus tout free WiFi. So why is service patchy — or nonexistent?

Services like Amtrak and Megabus provide free WiFi by working with mobile carriers to tap into cellphone networks along their routes, meaning signals are often at the mercy of available cell towers. There’s also the problem of bandwidth on crowded buses and trains. For that reason, Megabus and Amtrak limit access to streaming music and video — though Megabus, for example, lets riders pick from a limited set of movies and TV shows through its app.

Meanwhile, savvy entrepreneurs have taken advantage of the shortcomings in the companies’ networks. Alex Gizis, chief executive of Connectify, a technology company that developed the Speedify app, said he most often hears from customers on Amtrak and Megabus. The app patches weak Internet signals by tapping into WiFi and mobile networks at the same time.