Thirty more subway stations, in addition to six that were part of a pilot program two years ago, now have wi-fi capabiity, allowing subway riders to make and receive phone calls, texts, emails and more.
What’s more, Verizon and Sprint are in talks to join the network, according to the MTA. In the pilot program, only AT&T and T-Mobile USA users were able to pick up the signal in the stations (to the consternation of this writer, a Verizon customer, who lives near one of the original six stations).
However, Brooklyn subway riders have a long time to wait. The 30 new stations, as well as the original six, are all in Midtown Manhattan.
Although MTA has contracted to install wireless capability in 277 underground stations by 2017, Brooklyn is considered “Phase 5” of the project,” behind “Uptown and Downtown Manhattan,” Queens and the Bronx, according to MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz.
One activist involved in transit issues, who preferred not to be named, said, “My understanding is that they’re beginning where the highest user-ship is and the most infrastructure is available, and that’s in Manhattan. I don’t think their intention was to exclude the other boroughs.”
The announcement was made on Thursday at Times Square, where MTA officials were joined by executives from Transit Wireless, AT&T, T-Mobile USA and Boingo Wireless to demonstrate the new capability.
The 36 stations that are now online have an average annual ridership of approximately 7 million customers per station.
Transit Wireless, the main contractor, and the carriers themselves are paying 100 percent of the cost of the project. Transit Wireless has also established a sublicense arrangement with Boingo Wireless to manage and operate the wi-fi services.
The stations that are now “online” are all between 14th Street and 96th Street.