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MTA Announces Universal Subway Wireless Connectivity Plan

Written by David C. Lester, Editor

MTA has announced a wireless plan for the subway.


The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced a public-private partnership to provide cellular coverage on all 418 kilometers of subway tunnel tracks, as well as an extension of Wi-Fi service to 191 above-ground subway stations and 21 Staten Island Railway stations.

Transit customers currently receive cellular and Wi-Fi service at all 281 underground subway stations through Transit Wireless, a BAI communications company. A proposed extension would transform the metro system into a fully digitally connected transit network that would give riders the ability to use their mobile devices throughout the metro system.

“Bringing cellular connectivity to tunnels between stations and Wi-Fi to surface stations is a major step forward in improving the transit rider experience,” said MTA President and CEO. . Janno Lieber. “And the deal that MTA has reached will also help MTA’s bottom line – a major concern as the pandemic winds down.”

“We live in a digitally connected world and serve an ever-changing city,” said NYC Transit President Richard Davey. “Having an uninterrupted underground network connection will reinvent the way New Yorkers travel by providing the ability to enjoy every minute of their journey through cellular service and internet connection, which can also ease the barriers of motion that visitors encounter when attempting to navigate the system. We look forward to using the improved connectivity to improve the service information we provide to customers. »

“This latest technology advancement will coordinate with other work throughout the system to equip hundreds of miles of tunnels to enable cellular service between stations and meet MTA’s operational needs,” said Construction President and MTA development, Jamie Torres-Springer. “We look forward to filling the remaining gaps in cellular coverage and data connectivity in our metro system.”

All subway stations currently have cell service and Wi-Fi. The proposed agreement would extend this to provide connectivity in tunnels between stations and in surface stations. In addition, it will allow Transit Wireless to improve the existing MTA communication system and generate revenue by marketing unused fiber to private customers. Transit Wireless would design, build and operate a neutral host network that would provide each subway tunnel in the system with a wireless communication connection.

Over the past few years, the MTA has made significant strides in improving connectivity, including partnering with Transit Wireless to bring cell service and Wi-Fi to all underground subway stations in 2017 and in 2020, bringing cellular coverage and data connectivity to the L train tunnel. The connection between Brooklyn and Manhattan on the L line became the first tunnel in the New York City subway system to have full connectivity, for customers AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile.

“We are proud to expand our partnership with the MTA and provide New York City Subway riders with world-class, end-to-end Internet, data and cellular communications,” said Transit Wireless. CEO Melinda White. “The expansion of passenger connectivity through the tunnels and through the above-ground stations shows MTA’s continued commitment to the passenger experience.”

$1 billion in benefits for transit riders and MTA

Overall, the project is expected to generate more than $1 billion in benefits for the MTA and its customers over the life of the agreement in terms of service provided, incremental revenue and cost savings. Work on the project will begin immediately and be completed in 10 years. Runners will be able to use the new services as each section is completed.

Transit Wireless will build the necessary infrastructure, an investment expected to exceed $600 million. This build builds on the company’s existing infrastructure located throughout New York. As the system is built, the MTA will share in the revenue Transit Wireless receives from cellular service providers and other commercial customers, in addition to revenue from the station agreement. In addition, the MTA will phase out payments it currently makes to Transit Wireless for additional communications services such as leased fiber, real-time train arrival information and assistance points, the communications system which provides immediate access to assistance and 911 information with the touch of a button.

Between the increased revenue from extending the agreement with Transit Wireless and the elimination of annual payments for additional communications services, the MTA will receive a combined benefit worth $410 million.

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