In DC, underground cell coverage expanded


Over the last few years, I’ve followed the MTA’s attempt at bringing cell phone service to its underground platforms while, at the same time, exploring how Washington’s WMATA has far surpassed the MTA in this technological effort. This past weekend, the Metro moved yet another step ahead of New York City as it expanded cell service at its busiest stations. While Verizon customers have enjoyed underground coverage for years, Friday marked the start of underground service for AT&T, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile at the system’s 20 most popular stations.

Friday’s service debut was just the start of an ambitious roll-out of cellular subway service. By the end of next month, D.C. straphangers will enjoy continuous street-to-platform coverage, and in a year from now, the unwired 27 underground stations will be hooked into the cell network. In Oct. 2012, full underground service inside the tunnels will debut. As D.C. moves ahead, here in New York, we’re just spinning our wireless wheels waiting for someone to bring cell service to the subways.

14 Responses to “In DC, underground cell coverage expanded”

  1. Evan says:

    I know this is good especially in emergencies but I can deal with not hearing people loud phone conversations on the train. Although usually a quick look and they quiet down.

  2. John says:

    Yeah, I don’t see a need for full cell service in the subways. It’s bad enough hearing people’s loud music, now we have to hear people yelling into their phones too? Getting just data coverage would be great though.

  3. Eric says:

    I’m all for seeing mobile voice coverage being the next Second Avenue Subway in that it takes more than a century to get done (without the cost though).

  4. rhywun says:

    I couldn’t care less about this – with the exception of *possibly* better security (which is something I would like to see someone report on–would this initiative have any effect on safety?). Otherwise, I don’t want to see one thin dime spent on this unless it’s all private dollars. And even if it is privately funded, I still suspect the annoyance will outweigh any positive benefit.

  5. E. Aron says:

    This is the last thing the MTA needs to spend money on. Horrible idea for all the obvious reasons already mentioned.

  6. johnq says:

    “This is the last thing the MTA needs to spend money on.”

    Except that the MTA should be able to get the system installed at no cost, and actually make money on the system, as Metro does. From the article:

    “Metro’s contract with the team of carriers would generate a minimum of about $25 million during the initial 15-year term and an additional $27 million during five, two-year renewal terms, for a minimum of $52 million over 25 years, officials have said.”

    • E. Aron says:

      Great. Enjoy listening to 100+ people having conversations on the subway.

      • Except people don’t do that. Half of the system is already cell-equipped because it’s above ground. Cell rage and incessant conversations just aren’t a big problem.

        However, the inability to communicate in an emergency, and the productivity lost to a 30-minute data-free subway ride are tangible. Plus, it was painful having to ride home during yesterday’s Yankee game without a way to check the score.

  7. rhywun says:

    I think there’s enough “noise pollution” on the train already. One-sided conversations are *particularly* distracting, because you sit there trying to fill in the other side of the conversation you can’t hear.

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