Back in 2011, Transit Wireless and New York City’s Metropolitan Authority announced an ambitious plan to blanket the Big Apple’s 277 underground subway stations with mobile voice and data coverage. After launching in six stations in Chelsea, nothing much else happened, but on Thursday Transit and MTA finally announced the next phase of their project.
It’s only 30 stations so the project is still well short of its goal, but AT&T and T-Mobile customers should start noticing their phones maintaining their connections as they descend into the depths of Midtown Manhattan. In addition, Boingo is also using the system to expand its hotspot networks underground. Transit said the stations are located in Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Lincoln Center and Columbus Circle. (You can see a list of the specific stops here.)
Transit has installed a distributed antenna system, or DAS, which is neutral-hosted cellular technology. That means that, unlike with traditional tower radio infrastructure, multiple carriers can use the same equipment to reach their customers. They just install base station gear in a hidey-hole somewhere in the MTA’s underground maze, and Transit’s antennas spread their signals to nearby stations.
T-Mobile and AT&T are the anchor tenants of the project, but Verizon Wireless and Sprint said they are negotiating agreements with Transit and the MTA to use the network as well. Transit is targeting 2016 to complete its DAS installation throughout NYC.