The Metropolitan Transportation Authority launched wireless voice and data communication capability in six subway stations, allowing New York City subway riders to make and receive cell phone calls, send tweets and receive e-mail underground. MTA officials were joined by executives from Transit Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile to demonstrate the new capability at the 14th Street-8th Avenue station a full 10 months ahead of schedule.
Transit Wireless expects to provide service to the remaining 271 underground stations within four years and has already begun design work on the next 30 stations on the west side of Manhattan, including Times Square, Herald Square and Columbus Circle. Those 30 stations are expected online in the next 12 months.
As part of the service, E911 also provides added security underground with uninterrupted access to 911 and the ability for 911 dispatchers to know when a call is being placed at street level or underground in the subway. Under agreements with the MTA and Transit Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile customers can now use their cell phones and also send and receive wireless data messages at the following six stations:
- A, C, E station at Eighth Avenue and West 14th Street;
- L station at Eighth Avenue and West 14th Street;
- C, E station at Eighth Avenue and West 23rd Street;
- 1, 2, 3 station at Seventh Avenue and West 14th Street;
- F, M station at Sixth Avenue and West 14th Street;
- L station at Sixth Avenue and West 14th Street.
"Bringing wireless service into our subway system is the latest milestone in the MTA's effort to use technology to improve the service we provide for our customers," said MTA chairman and CEO Jay H. Walder. "Whether you're checking your email, calling your kids or looking for emergency assistance, wireless service will bring the conveniences we're used to throughout our lives into the subway system."
"Working with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, AT&T and T-Mobile, Transit Wireless has created a win-win-win scenario in the New York City subway system," said Transit Wireless CEO William A. Bayne Jr. "Commuters have improved access to communication; the MTA realizes additional revenue and the wireless carriers can provide added value to their customers."
"Whether above or below ground, New Yorkers want and need access to their wireless phones and other devices, and AT&T is excited to begin providing subway riders with this service in several of the city's subway stations," said Mike Maus, assistant vice president Network Engineering, AT&T. "AT&T is committed to providing customers with the best mobile broadband and Wi-Fi experience, whether they're at work, at home, on the street, in a subway station or in the parks."
"T-Mobile is excited to work with Transit Wireless and the MTA to offer wireless service to the thousands of T-Mobile customers that use these subway platforms daily," said Terry Hayes, vice president general manager, New York City, T-Mobile USA. "This effort is another great example of T-Mobile's continued investment in New York City to expand our 4G network, providing more value and connectivity to our customers."
Transit Wireless and the carriers are paying 100 percent of the cost of the project, estimated at up to $200 million, including the cost of NYC Transit forces that provide flagging, protection and other support services. The MTA and Transit Wireless would also evenly split revenues from occupancy fees paid by the wireless carriers and other sub-licensees of the network. Transit Wireless will pay the MTA a minimum annual compensation of $3.3 million once the full build out of the network is complete.