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4/25/2013
01:36 PM
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36 NYC Subway Stations Get Wi-Fi

MTA and Transit Wireless enter the first phase of a multi-year plan to bring wireless communications to 277 NYC subway stations.

New York's 32-Story Data 'Fortress'
New York's 32-Story Data 'Fortress'
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The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and Transit Wireless announced on Thursday that wireless and Wi-Fi service is now available at more than 30 underground subway stations in New York City.

The project has been in the works for five years, and Thursday's announcement marks the first phase in a multi-year plan to bring wireless communications to 277 NYC subway stations. Transit Wireless CEO Bill Bayne held a press event inside the Times Square subway station, which is among those getting service. "It is a befitting tribute to our mission to enable state-of-the-art wireless service to all of the underground subway stations by kicking it off underneath the most famous crossroads in the world: Times Square," Bayne said in a statement.

In addition to Wi-Fi service, commuters will have access to cellular networks underground. Both Verizon Wireless and Sprint have signed on as cell service providers at 36 stations -- from 14th Street to 96th Street -- joining T-Mobile and AT&T. Other partners include Alpha Technologies, which is proving backup power for the underground system, and SOLiD, which is supplying antenna system equipment.

[ Is the Big Apple preparing to become the world's next major tech center? Read New York City Builds On Its Technology Base. ]

Transit Wireless and the MTA launched a pilot program in 2011, offering Wi-Fi and cellphone service at select stops on the L, A/C/E, and 1/2/3 subway lines. Wireless service is expected to be available at the remaining 241 subway stations by 2018 or sooner. Stations in Queens and Midtown Manhattan will be next, followed by the East Side of Manhattan and the Bronx. Subway commuters can check if their stop has access at Nycsubwaywireless.com.

Transit Wireless spent approximately $200 million to design, build, operate and maintain the system, initially partnering with Wi-Fi hotspot provider Boingo, AT&T and T-Mobile. Transit Wireless said it would split revenue generated by the system with the MTA, which is estimated to be $40 million over 10 years.

The latest development is part of New York City's continuous effort to broaden wireless network services available to residents, commuters and tourists. Ongoing projects include pay phone kiosks in the streets, "micro-trenching" fiber-optic cable to neighborhoods and wireless access in public places.

On May 4, AT&T and the MTA will host a "hackathon," where developers will compete to create apps that "solve real-world problems and enhance the transit experience of MTA's 8.5 million daily riders." Dubbed MTA App Quest, the challenge will award a total of $50,000 in prizes. Developers will have the option of building their apps using the MTA's public data and APIs.

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Foster
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Foster,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/25/2013 | 6:19:16 PM
re: 36 NYC Subway Stations Get Wi-Fi
In related news, iPhone theft up at 36 NYC Subway Stations.
xToddrick
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xToddrick,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/25/2013 | 6:34:09 PM
re: 36 NYC Subway Stations Get Wi-Fi
I'm fine with data service but not voice. It's one of the few place to get away from
people yacking. So now when a train
enters a station with cellular service a bunch of telephones will ring (because
people don't have the courtesy to keep their telephone on silent in public) and
they will increase the noise by actually answering and saying I can't talk now
because the train is leaving the station. If it's important then send a text message.
Andrew Hornback
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Andrew Hornback,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/27/2013 | 5:22:10 PM
re: 36 NYC Subway Stations Get Wi-Fi
Oh, don't forget the fact that it's insecure to the point that the NYPD was warning users NOT to use the available WiFi in the stations in the pilot deployment.

It's nice to have the service available... but honestly, I'd much rather have a more reliable transit system (seeing how with a name like Metropolitan TRANSIT Authority, that seems to be their primary line of business).

Then, let's look at the numbers... $200M spent on a project that will generate $40M in revenue over 10 years. My Virginia public school education tells me that that's roughly $4M/yr in revenue. At $4M/yr in revenue, fully neglecting any recurring operating costs, it'll take 50 years to reach the break-even point. Now, anyone that's reading Information Week will understand that this kind of infrastructure MUST be upgraded more often than every 50 years (although, that does seem to be the kind of schedule that MTA uses for its TRANSIT infrastructure). So, management is left in a quandry - either a) try to keep running an aging infrastructure to provide service or b) keep throwing money network upgrades, especially in an arena where harsh environments and high technological evolution rule the day.

Hmm...

Guessing we'll see $5/ride subway fares around 2014 with this kind of math going on inside the MTA.

Andrew Hornback
InformationWeek Contributor (and daily MTA customer)
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