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New York Subway Platforms to Get Wi-Fi, Cell Service

Commuters prepare to board a subway train in New York, Wednesday, July 28, 2010. New York's transit agency is proposing fare increases of more than 16 percent for monthly subway and bus passes and 9 percent hikes on suburban trains, another blow to commuters still getting used to service cuts last month that eliminated some subway and bus routes. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) AP
As if New York's subways weren't noisy enough, the city's underground network will soon start work on a $200 million plan to bring Wi-Fi and cell phone service to the platforms. Bloomberg has the story here, but basically, New York is only catching up on a promised project that originally was set to start three years ago. A city spokesman quoted by Bloomberg said the project got the green light to proceed after the group that won the contract received financing from an Australian mobile- infrastructure company.

Transit Wireless will have two years to wire up six stations near 14th Street on Manhattan's West Side. After that, it will have another four years to finish connecting the remaining 271 subterranean platforms slated to get Wi-Fi and cell service. Bloomberg quoted Alex Mashinsky, chief executive officer of Q-Wireless Inc., one of the companies participating in the group, estimating that work could be completed at a rate of 10 to 15 stations per month.

The project will cost about $200 million to complete, not including the $46 million Transit Wireless will have to pay the transit authority, Mashinsky said. Transit Wireless has already completed much of the planning work, including blueprints and surveying work (according to Chris Jaeger managing director of international business for Broadcast Australia, the firm which took a majority stake in Transit Wireless LLC, the group of wireless and construction companies that was awarded the subway contract.) Once the project is done, riders will have mobile service on the platform, mezzanines and portions of the tunnels, Jaeger said. Carriers such as AT&T Inc., Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel Corp. would pay Transit Wireless to use its network.
The city spokesman said the first six stations include those for several trains along 14th Street at Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Avenues and at 23rd Street and Eighth Avenue.