The largest and busiest underground public transport system in the United States is now fully wired to offer cell phone and Wi-Fi services to its 5.7 million daily users.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) and Transit Wireless have succeeded in providing cell phone service and free Wi-Fi at all subway stations in New York City.
The project to implement Wi-Fi and cellular service in all 279 subway stations across NYC began in 2011 and had been successfully carried out in stations in Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx last year. Following this, Transit Wireless was given until the end of 2017 to deploy cellular service across the stations and until 2018 to deploy Wi-Fi services.
By working on an accelerated timeline, the company managed to complete the project far ahead of schedule with the final station, Clark Street on the 2/3 line in Brooklyn, going live on January 9, according to Mashable.
Only four stations, South Ferry, Prospect Ave, 53rd St., and Bay Ridge, are yet to receive the systems as they are under renovation. They will reportedly be connected as soon as the work is completed so that all NYC subway commuters can avail the benefits at the earliest.
"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," New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said in a press release. "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."
The $300 million project, part of a 27-year partnership between Transit Wireless and MTA, offers commuters on NYC's subway system access to free Wi-Fi and cell phone service for all four major carriers -- AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless.
It also includes a dedicated 4.9 GHz public safety broadband network, as well as Help Point Intercoms that can connect passengers to 911, reports The Verge.
An audit of the subway stations offering these services, conducted between June and November 2016, showed that all functions of the project were operating successfully. "This audit shows that New York City is moving into the future, that we can be underground but don't have to disconnect from the world," New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer said in a press statement.