Friday's commute on the New York subway will be even more cheek-by-jowl than usual with the visit of Pope Francis to the Big Apple. In part, that's because The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has advised people to use the subway in favor of driving into Manhattan, or taking a bus.
So it seemed like a good time to quickly check in with Transit Wireless, the company that has deployed cellular and WiFi infrastructure used by all the major carriers for 4G and WiFi services in parts of the New York subway. (See Transit Wireless: Unwiring the NYC Subway.)
A spokesperson for the company tells Light Reading that Transit now has wireless service running in 121 subway stations (there are 279 stations in the entire system). The live stations are located in parts of midtown and uptown Manhattan and in the borough of Queens. (See Verizon On Board With NYC WiFi Subway Build-Out and NYC Subway Wireless No Cure for Ebola Fears.)
Here's what the company says about the visit of Pope Francis on Friday:
- The City and the MTA are expecting higher than usual numbers for subway ridership during the pope's visit and we expect the network utilization will grow substantially. Transit Wireless has a strong network and we are happy to service these riders with wireless and WiFi connectivity while they are underground.
No doubt a good number of riders will also try to use the WiFi while in the subway stations. Transit Wireless said that in 2013 -- its first year of service -- the WiFi network served about 2.6 million connections and processed more than 60 terabytes of data. These numbers are likely to be much larger now, as only 36 stations were up and running in the initial phase of service.
Transit Wireless also tells us that they are now no longer working with its original partner, Boingo Wireless Inc. , for the WiFi service underground. Since last year, the company started offering its own ad-sponsored WiFi network using 802.11 access points from Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT).
Of course, whether you can get on the network or not might not be relevant if you can't cram yourself into the subway car in the first place! Overall NYC subway passenger numbers hit a 65-year high last year and there have been some record passenger spikes this summer.
The pope will be holding a Mass for 20,000 people at Madison Square Gardens at 6 p.m. on Friday. That's across from Penn Station and several 34th Street subway hubs, and right in the thick of Friday evening's commute.
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor and Papal Affairs Correspondent, Light Reading