Starting tomorrow, four of the 271 subway platforms in New York City will have cell phone service and Wi-Fi. Catch: subway platforms will have service but the tunnels won’t, so you can’t really use your phone in between stops. Additionally, it will only be available to those with AT&T and T-Mobile service. Sorry, Verizoners.
Transit Wireless, the company that is installing the system, has five years to install service in all 271 subway stations. The project began in 2007, but little has been accomplished so far because of financial difficulties. The entire project is estimated at $200 million.
As of Tuesday, these are the four subway stations where service will be available:
C/E at 23rd St. and 8th Ave.
A/C/E/L at 14th St. and 8th Ave.
F/M/L at 14th St. and 6th Ave.
1/2/3 at 14th St. and 7th Ave.
There is a sizable amount of controversy emerging from this metropolitan change. Cell phone service on subways is already available in Boston, Berlin, Hong Kong, and Paris, just to name a few of the world’s biggest cities. Supporters of this underground service figure that it’s about time that New York City’s metro joins the era of constant digital connectivity.
On the other hand, coverage from the Brooklyn Eagle, Huffington Post, and the New York Times indicates that other New Yorkers are not too thrilled about this change. Many are annoyed that subways will soon be filled with people chattering to their moms and boyfriends and bosses and babies. And we are unsure of how to cope with the fact that we will no longer be able to claim a lack of service when ignoring an unwanted call.
Personally, we’re fans of the “if you’re going to do it, do it all the way” mentality. Some New Yorkers enjoy the silence of a morning commute, the quiet minutes to read a book, or the simple moments of doing absolutely nothing. We can certainly be those people. But if you’re going to install cell phone service in New York City, do it all the way. It’s hardly comprehensive or useful if it’s only available on the platforms of four stations in Chelsea to subscribers of two wireless providers. Account for the 106.3 million Verizon users in America, install service at the other 267 subway stations, and make sure we get service on the subway, not just while waiting for it. We understand that this is an ongoing project that will hopefully achieve all these things eventually, so we probably just need to be patient.