updated 10:35 am EDT, Tue June 15, 2010
Ad-supported service would be free to riders
A private telecommunications company has proposed adding Wi-Fi service to two New York City area train lines. Mobilitie, which operates the free Wi-Fi service NYFI, submitted the proposal to build a wireless network for the Metro North and Long Island Rail Road lines. The service would be free to riders. The network and service would be built and supported by revenue from ads.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York (MTA), which operates the commuter lines, issued a Request for Proposals for this service in March (pdf). MTA required that the wireless network be constructed and operated at no charge to the agency.
Cablevision is the only other bidder known to have responded, submitting a similar proposal on June 3. No details from either proposal have been made public.
Cablevision is the service provider in those areas of New York, and provides Wi-Fi hotspots in MTA train stations along those lines. Cablevision's current Wi-Fi service is free to its subscribers and available to other commuters for a small fee.
Wi-Fi service is very popular with commuters. A trial offering free Wi-Fi on Amtrak's Acela Express trains in the New York City area earlier this year was so well received that the service is being implemented nationwide.