Carrier WiFi

The Wireless Underground: NYC Subway Rollout Done

New York's subway wireless project is officially all but done; cellular services, however, may not be equal underground.

Transit Wireless, the company deploying WiFi and cell services in the 279 underground stations in the New York City system, says that the services are available as of Monday, except in four stations that are being renovated at the moment.

Transit Wireless told me at the end of November that WiFi service would be complete in the underground stations by the end of 2016, and cellular service would follow hard on its heels. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), T-Mobile US Inc. and Verizon Wireless are all offering subway service. Transit Wireless uses distributed antenna systems and WiFi hotspots, connected via fiber to several basestation hotels across the NYC boroughs, to offer connectivity in the stations.

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All subway cellular services may not be equal, however, depending on your location. I took a ride up the A/C line into Brooklyn and Queens Monday night. I had a T-Mobile and Verizon phone with me. The T-Mobile phone got a 4G LTE data connection in stations like Nostrand, Franklin and beyond. You could make calls off the Verizon phone, and presumably text people, but there was no LTE connection at the time.

Previously, I had found that T-Mobile would lose its data connection on the 1 train at 72nd Street. Given the shared nature of wireless, this may all be to do with how many people are using a given service provider in a given carriage. Both phones connected easily to Transit Wireless's WiFi service.

Still, I'd be interested in hearing local readers' experiences too.

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