Wireless service in NYC subways

There’s been talk for a little while now about a company planning to put wireless telephone service in subway stations in New York City. Breaking news: you’ll actually have signal on the trains themselves, too.

I’m ecstatic! My friends know how attached I am to my iPhone, so this is huge for me. And the fact that it’s a few years away from completion doesn’t bother me, since I don’t live there yet.

The company installing this wonderful service is called Transit Wireless, and they have two years to get a prototype running in six stations to demonstrate that the functionality works. After that, four more years to get the other 277 stations onboard.

For me, the bigger question is: why haven’t we had this sooner?! If they can put wireless telephone service on an airplane and on cruise ships, why can’t they do it in a subway station a few dozen feet under the surface of the street?

A bigger (and easier) “win” for me would just be data service. Every corporate-owned Starbucks in the continental United States offers free Wi-Fi service now, enabling smartphones and laptops and tablet computers to be much more useful on the go… Give me THAT on a subway and I will patiently wait for voice service ’til I get off the train.

But really, who actually TALKS on their cellphones these days anyway?

2 Responses to Wireless service in NYC subways

  1. Jason says:

    I have to say- I’m excited about this too.
    Although I’m sure your question above was probably intended to be rhetorical; I feel it is necessary to voice the opposition to this project. For those of us New Yorkers who take the trains everyday there is one scenario that haunts our thoughts when it comes to wireless cellular service on the subway.
    Here is the scene (mind you that this scene could be painted a numerous different ways, using many other stereo types-I’m not blind to that idea, but for the purpose of brevity I’ll use one): You’re sitting on the 1 train heading uptown to the Upper Westside. Like most New Yorkers your reading your paper, book, or kindle device. Suddenly your becoming increasingly aware of the young lady standing by the door. Her phone is loudly ringing and she answers it, “hello,” she says. She laughs loudly, “oh girl! let! me! tell YOU!” and the conversation goes down hill from there. As she continues to speak loudly into her phone, a conversation mind you that you’d much rather NOT be party to hearing, the engineer say “Sorry for the inconvenience, we are being delayed by the train’s dispatcher”. The horror is fully realized as the gentleman next you pulls his phone out to make a call as well.
    So that’s the general argument against this wireless cell service. As a Long Island Railroad commuter I’m used to this. No big deal to me, and overall I don’t think it will be as bad as some think. However to New Yorkers who primarily stay within Manhattan -this could require a bit of adjustment.

    Kevin, Wi-Fi on the subway would be awesome! that should be the first priority, especially since their going to jack my monthly up to $105 a month!

  2. gatoruptown says:

    Jason, I actually thought of scenarios like that as well — I feel that same frustration when in a plane lands and suddenly you hear everyone in a cramped cabin shouting into their phones.

    I’m definitely much more excited about Wi-Fi service, that’s for sure!

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