New York Subway to get Wi-Fi, cellphone coverage

Travelers using the New York subway system are going to be more productive than ever, following the announcement that the entire system will be upgraded to offer Wi-Fi and cellphone connectivity – despite being located underground.

The plan is, according to CrunchGear, part of a $200 million renovation project which aims to improve the quality of service those using the underground to get from A to B – and with a large proportion of those being business travelers, being able to offer always-available connectivity for notebooks, smartphones, and the omnipresent push-notification BlackBerry – not dubbed the CrackBerry for nothing – is likely to encourage more people to ditch the cars and take to the rails for their daily commute.

While the upgrade to support wireless connectivity will take time – with the network being upgraded in stages to support it, and the most popular routes upgraded first – the plan is to offer complete coverage in all under- and above-ground sections of the system, with both voice and data traffic supported.

The voice traffic will be carried – along with mobile data for those with smartphones not equipped with Wi-Fi connectivity options – by a series of picocells – small base-stations designed to offer localized connectivity where a large cellphone base-station isn’t practicable – offering complete coverage across all routes. If the plan goes ahead, that means no more dropped calls as you travel from one station to another – and for business travelers, that means even more time to seal the deal during your daily commute.

Wi-Fi access points will also be fitted, allowing full Internet access as standard – although the authorities behind the plan have not yet announced whether this will be offered free of charge to all travelers or if there are plans afoot to introduce a pay-for-access system in order to recoup the cost of the upgrades. Either way, any Wi-Fi device – whether it’s a cellphone, a notebook, or even Apple’s popular iPad slate – will be supported and able to access the Internet uninterrupted during the journey.

While far from the first such transit system to receive a wireless connectivity upgrade, anyone who travels on the New York subway will be pleased to hear of the plans – unless you end up trapped in a subway car with a bunch of loud business types chattering into their cellphones, in which case you might wish they’d never bothered.

Sadly, the transit authority has yet to announce when the project will be completed.

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