As the MTA looks to equip its commuter rail trains with WiFi access, a major player in the New York telecom scene has entered the fray. Cablevision, owner of Optimum Online, wants to extend its burgeoning WiFi network onto the trains. The company says it can accomplish a rollout in 12 months at no cost to the MTA.
“Access to the Internet on MTA trains will transform the riding experience, and we believe Cablevision is uniquely positioned to deliver this enhancement through the extension of Optimum WiFi – already the nation’s largest and most advanced WiFi network – onto the rails,” John Bickham, Cablevision’s president of cable and communications, said in a statement. “As a New York-based company already providing popular WiFi access at nearly 200 MTA commuter rail stations we propose to deploy wireless Internet access across the entire MTA system within 12 months of selection, at no cost to the Transportation Authority or taxpayers.”
In a press release, Cablevision touted the high points of its proposal:
Under Cablevision’s proposal, submitted to the MTA today, the company would provide unlimited free access to its Optimum Online high-speed Internet customers and would provide a reasonable access option for non-customers. Cablevision would assume all costs associated with extending its Optimum WiFi network onto the trains and would also create a separate, private and secure, WiFi network exclusively for MTA use…
One of the key advantages of the Cablevision proposal to the MTA is that it provides for trackside WiFi backhaul – connected to Cablevision’s fiber optic wired network – as opposed to cellular transmission, ensuring network availability and sufficient bandwidth for riders. Trackside WiFi backhaul can support more than triple the number of simultaneous users and data capacity than a cellular-only option, promoting customer satisfaction by delivering a positive experience.
According to a Multichannel News report, AT&T, RailBand Group LLC, Mastech Enterprises and Mobilite all submitted RFPs as well prior to the June 2 deadline. The MTA has not yet determined when it will select a carrier, and the authority has not yet put forward a potential timeline for installation and activation of a WiFi network for commuter rail. Needless to say, the sooner the better for New York’s economy and those who need or want to work on the ride home or just surf the Internet.