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New York City to get cellular, Wi-Fi in subway tunnels

updated 01:45 pm EDT, Fri July 30, 2010

NYC to have phone and data for whole routes

New York City's soon-to-start extension of cellular and Wi-Fi access into subway tunnels will sometimes provide a connection through the entire tunnel, contractors said on Friday. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority's plan to give access to stations will by its nature propagate the signal through the tunnels. In Manhattan and other areas with both frequent stops and wide tunnels, the signals would have enough room that they could make an almost end-to-end link.

Full access may not come for several years, the New York Daily News cautioned. Transit Wireless, the primary contractor, has up to two years to implement the first six stations but another four beyond that to complete the remaining 271 stations the MTA wants connected.

The American approach to wireless links on commuter subways and trains has contrasted sharply with countries like Japan and South Korea. Where these countries often have access through much or all of a trip, the US only seldomly has access. Some critics have often opposed the measures as they have argued that the environments should be quiet zones free of the stress from work.

By Electronista Staff


  1. afaby

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2005



    Can't wait to be stuck on a subway car with tons of people yakking on the phone the whole time.

  1. Inkling

    Senior User

    Joined: Jul 2006


    Lossy Coax Antennas?

    Has anyone experimented with lossy coax for cellular in tunnels? Hospitals and similar buildings use it to provide wider coverage for two-way radios, especially in basements. It's coax with shielding that leaks signals in and out over its entire length. In narrow subway tunnels the signal wouldn't be blocked by trains since the part of the antenna that matters is always only a few feet away. The cable could even be place at window level on each side, so the transmission distance is only a few feet.

    I can't help but wonder if the same idea might work inside the skyscraper canyons of many major cities. Just run the cable along buildings about 10 feet from the street level. Placed that low down and blocked by buildings in almost every direction, the same channels could be reused every few blocks, increasing the available bandwidth.

  1. Sean.Perrin

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2008


    Such a shame.

    There's no escape from technology's grasp anymore. As much as I love it, I hate it all the same.

    Where I live (Calgary) we have above-grade rail transit and the WORST part about taking the train is the inconsiderate people yakking away to their friends on the phone. This problem, I imagine, will be 100-fold in NYC, the most business-oriented city on the planet.

  1. Marook

    Forum Regular

    Joined: May 1999



    ...and that's already in place here i Copenhagen, both in the Subway and inside exibition places like Bella Center (where COP15 took place..).

    No wonder you US people have such bad signal all over.. :-/

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