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Cellular Connectivity in Underground Subway Stations One Year Ahead of Schedule; Wi-Fi Also Installed in Underground Stations Two Years Ahead of Schedule

Digital Connectivity Underground
Digital Connectivity Underground

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced that cell phone coverage in underground subway stations will be available a full year ahead of schedule, with all four carriers AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless, present across underground stations as of Monday, January 9. In addition, Wi-Fi has been installed in underground stations a full two years ahead of schedule. The MTA’s early delivery was in response to the Governor’s directive at the beginning of 2016 to accelerate the project.

Today’s announcement represents another important step in the Governor’s ongoing campaign to modernize the MTA, and comes shortly after he presided over the on-time opening of the new Second Avenue Subway, which includes three new, state-of-the-art stations, as well as a new entrance at the existing Lexington and 63rd Street Station.

“By bringing Wi-Fi and cell service underground ahead of schedule, we are reimagining our subway stations to meet the needs of the next generation,” Governor Cuomo said. “This will better connect New Yorkers who are on-the-go and build on our vision to reimagine the country’s busiest transportation network for the future. I thank all of our partners.”

MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast said, "With the on-time opening of the Second Avenue Subway, we already had a lot to celebrate. And now, after working closely with the Governor’s office and our partners at all four major carriers, we’ve been able to fulfill Governor Cuomo’s mandate to dramatically increase connectivity at underground stations, delivering cell service from the major carriers a year early, while at the same time giving our customers Wi-Fi two years ahead of the deadline. Connectivity is a big deal for our customers, and we're thrilled to be delivering these vital services so far ahead of schedule.”

Transit Wireless has a long term agreement with the MTA to design, build, operate and maintain cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity in the underground subway stations. The company has invested well over $300 million into this infrastructure project and is sharing revenues derived through the network’s services with the MTA. The project was being built at no cost to taxpayers or subway riders.

MTA Partnership with Transit Wireless

Transit Wireless has a 27-year partnership agreement with the MTA to design, build, operate and maintain cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity in the underground subway stations. The company is investing well over $300 million into this infrastructure project and is sharing revenues derived through the services with the MTA. The project is being built at no cost to taxpayers or subway customers.

Within this project, MTA and Transit Wireless are working together on the deployment of specific communications technologies to enhance public safety, including a dedicated 4.9 GHz public safety broadband network and the highly visible Help Point Intercoms. These instant communication kiosks offer immediate access to E911 assistance and information with the touch of a button. To date, Transit Wireless has built the infrastructure for more than 3,000 Help Point Intercoms in 175 underground MTA stations. This network now provides thousands of MTA employees, contractors, and first responders connected capability as never before.

Underground Connectivity

Almost every underground station has already been completed and the final station, Clark Street on the 2, 3 line in Brooklyn, will go live on Monday, January 9. Four stations which are either under renovation (South Ferry) or about to start a renovation (Prospect Ave., 53rd Street and Bay Ridge) will come online immediately upon conclusion of their renovation. The construction of the wireless, Wi-Fi and public safety network began in 2011 with the connection of six underground stations in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, and was slated for completion in 2018. However, at the direction of Governor Cuomo, the process was accelerated, with Wi-Fi connectivity in underground stations scheduled for the end of 2016, almost two years ahead of the original schedule.

New York City Transit President Veronique Hakim said, "As of Monday our customers can text or call from our underground stations, staying in touch with their families, keeping up with work, and staying connected. That’s a major step forward for the MTA, and for our customers, and we thank the Governor and the major carriers for moving this project along at such a rapid pace.”

William A. Bayne, Jr., CEO of Transit Wireless said, “To accomplish such a complex endeavor, it took almost unprecedented cooperation between Government agencies, public companies, and private companies to make it happen. Specifically, teams from the MTA/NYCT, the Governor's office, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and several NYC agencies joined forces to expedite these critical communication services nearly two years early. It has been an exciting challenge to build a modern technology infrastructure within a subway system that is over 100 years old, on behalf of the Transit Wireless organization, we are proud be part of such a unique accomplishment.

Marissa Shorenstein, New York State president of AT&T said, "When the MTA and Governor Cuomo came to AT&T back in 2011 with the idea of providing free, 24/7 wireless service to subway riders, we were thrilled to immediately sign on - and we were one of the first two wireless carriers to do so. Since then, we have watched as demand for this service has grown, which is why it is so exciting to see it fully implemented in every underground station in New York City today. AT&T looks forward to continuing to collaborate with the MTA on using the latest technological tools to improve the lives of New Yorkers.”

Mark Walker, Sprint Regional Vice President, Network said, “Providing wireless consumers with end-to-end network coverage while traveling through the city’s underground subway stations every day is part of Sprint’s commitment to our customers in New York. Provisioning this type of uninterrupted wireless service throughout 281 underground stations so quickly is both a huge accomplishment and investment that will significantly benefit the public.”

Tom Ellefson, Senior Vice President of Engineering at T-Mobile said, “New Yorkers spend a lot of time on the subway and we’re delighted that T-Mobile customers are now connected with America's fastest LTE network in underground subway stations. We’re excited to complete this major project ahead of schedule to benefit our customers.”

Leecia Eve, Verizon Wireless, Vice President, State Government Affairs said, “Providing wireless service in subway stations is just one example of our continuous efforts to provide our customers with New York City and the Tri-State Area’s #1 Network. We continue to lead the industry with network enhancements like LTE Advanced, which provides 50% faster peak speeds to our customers here in New York and in over 460 markets around the country, covering 90% of the population.”

Project Facts

Over the course of the project, Transit Wireless and its partners achieved several noteworthy accomplishments:

  • 120 miles of fiber optic cables (transporting signals between stations and base station hotels data centers)
  • Five large base station hotels (aggregating all communication signals, then connecting into wireless carrier and NYCT networks)
  • Installed 4,000 antenna connection points
  • Mounted 5,000 Wi-Fi access points
  • More than 3,000 Help Point terminals
  • $300 million + invested at no risk to taxpayers
  • Nearly two years ahead of licensed schedule