Home Asides Report: Transit Wireless cell service pilot set for Tuesday launch

Report: Transit Wireless cell service pilot set for Tuesday launch

by Benjamin Kabak

In September of 2007, I wrote a short article about an impending plan to bring cell service underground. Since then, Transit Wireless, the MTA’s contractor chosen for the pilot program, failed to sign up carriers, appeared to be a bogus company, went belly-up for a few years and emerged in late 2010 with a mandate from Jay Walder along with cell carriers and a late 2011 launch date. That day may be drawing even nearer.

According to a brief report in amNew York, Transit Wireless’ subway cell service pilot will go live on Tuesday at various platforms downtown. The first stations to receive a cell signal will be along the 14th St. L train corridor as well as the A/C/E platform at 14th St. and 8th Ave., the 1/2/3 station at 14th St. and 7th Ave., the F/M stop at 14th St. and 6th Ave. and the local stop at 23rd St. and 8th Ave. Neither Transit Wireless nor the MTA have confirmed the Tuesday launch date, but they have not denied it either. Initially only T-Mobile and AT&T services will be available underground. If you’re a Verizon subscriber like me, you’re out of luck.

Transit Wireless believes it can outfit the rest of the MTA’s underground stations by 2016. The era of “can you hear me now?” and mindlessly inane cell conversations on subway platforms is drawing ever closer.

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20 comments

Christopher September 22, 2011 - 3:10 pm

Perhaps we can be like Japan and ban cellphone conversations. Text only?

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Dan September 22, 2011 - 3:29 pm

Only GSM T-Mobile and AT&T get reception, CDMA Verizon gets no love.

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Scott E September 22, 2011 - 3:47 pm

When the two companies merge, there’s one less service provider on the system. One less tenant to pay Transit Wireless for the use of the network. I really wonder if these guys have a financial plan, and if they do, if it makes sense. I’ve had my doubts from the start.

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Christopher September 22, 2011 - 3:53 pm

I don’t think that merger is dead and done. And with iPhone coming to Sprint with an unlimited dataplan I think we’ll have another carrier option. (Also a lot of the low-cost options use Sprint’s infrastructure like CredoMobile and Boost.)

DC seems to do okay with just Verizon. I think they’ll be fine.

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Alon Levy September 23, 2011 - 5:01 am

If you bought your phone anywhere outside North America and Japan, you use GSM. Maybe you also have CDMA as a dual-band option – at least, it was done back when the US was entirely on CDMA; I doubt they still bother.

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nycpat September 22, 2011 - 3:30 pm

Good. Now terrorists can set off bombs by remote control, no pesky timers. We need this why?

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Christopher September 22, 2011 - 3:54 pm

Convenience. It seems to work just great in DC. And I haven’t seen any bombs going off there yet.

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nycpat September 22, 2011 - 5:53 pm

Passengers will now hold doors to finish their conversations. I guarantee it.

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Anon September 22, 2011 - 6:25 pm

this is going to be a nightmare

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Alex C September 22, 2011 - 9:32 pm

Yeah, this will end well.

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Alon Levy September 23, 2011 - 5:01 am

Take trains in cities with working cell reception sometime. Or above ground in New York.

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nycpat September 23, 2011 - 3:58 pm

@ Whitlock, Yankee stadium, Dyckman, and 125 B’way I have seen customers blocking the doors while they finish their calls.

Alon Levy September 24, 2011 - 3:44 pm

I don’t know about the others, but I’ve never seen this at 125th and Broadway. Why would anyone hold doors there? Cell service works equally well on the trains and at the station.

Ramiro September 22, 2011 - 7:19 pm

Bit off topic, but today the TBM finished its second run on Second Avenue. Surprised nothing has been mentioned about how close it was to finishing its run or its completion.

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ferryboi September 22, 2011 - 7:58 pm

Excellent news. Because one just can’t get enough of “HELLO! HELLO! CAN YOU HEAR ME? I’M…I’M ON THE…I’M ON THE SUBWAY! WHAT? CAN YOU REPEAT THAT? I…I…I CAN’T HEAR YOU, I’M ON THE…ON THE SUBWAY!”

One more reason to drive into the city.

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Michael September 22, 2011 - 8:47 pm

I use the 14th St A/C/E platform quite a bit, and it’s been working there for at least a few weeks now. I don’t know how consistent it’s been–I keep forgetting about. It was definitely on this afternoon though. (For T-Mobile anyway. I get a full 3g signal down there, and I never used to get anything before.)

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Pat L September 22, 2011 - 11:58 pm

I’m originally from Chicago, and there’s been cell phone service in the subway there for a few years. It’s great. I mostly use it to check Twitter, but hey, you gotta find some way to pass the time. For that matter, I take the M train to work everyday, and it’s not like those trains are packed with people screaming their cell phone conversations.

I know the proper New Yorker thing to do is to pre-emptively despise everyone you come across, but honestly, it will be fine. You might even find it convenient from time to time.

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Christopher September 23, 2011 - 10:14 am

Thank you! I’m from Chicago as well and take the M train every day … are you sure you aren’t me? Also I lived in DC for 5 years and no one is place is full of self important d-bags as DC but amazingly the underground cell service hasn’t brought Metro to a complete halt. People need to lighten up.

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Metro-North Quiet Car pilot coming to Hudson, Harlem Lines :: Second Ave. Sagas September 23, 2011 - 12:29 pm

[…] New York City Transit’s underground stations are on the verge of getting nosier with cell service to debut next week, Metro-North may be getting quiet. The commuter railroad […]

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Kid Twist September 23, 2011 - 2:49 pm

Relax. It’s AT&T so it won’t work anyway.

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