It’s a blessing or a curse, depending on your perspective, but the New York City subway system is set to turn on cell phone service in a few Manhattan stations in a concession to modernity. Slowly but surely mobile technology is finding its way into the last frontier.
The New York Times reports that several stations in the Chelsea neighborhood will be lit up for AT&T (NYSE: T) and T-Mobile users, but that the subway tunnels themselves won’t have wireless equipment to carry calls and data services. It’s being billed as a “pilot program” but it’s hard to believe that people won’t take advantage of the connectivity to make calls or download one last news feed before catching a train uptown.
Bringing underground wireless to a subway system as vast and complex as New York’s is no small undertaking, but given the millions that use the system daily, there’s clearly an opportunity for carriers to capitalize on the demand for entertainment or information on a boring train ride by bringing service to the tunnels as well as the stations. And while there are certainly some who will bemoan the inevitable plight of being stuck next to someone yapping on their phone for 30 blocks, that’s nothing that a pair of headphones and Spotify service can’t cure.