New York City subways to get cell service starting Tuesday

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Early next week, Manhattanites will start seeing more reception bars on their smartphones while underground, thanks to a pilot program from AT&T and T-Mobile.

The rollout will begin in six stations starting Tuesday, Sept. 27, with cell service coming to more stations soon. The program will launch at stations on the 14th Street corridor and the 23rd Street line.

Cell service will be available in mezzanines and on platforms, as well as other station areas, but passengers won’t be able to make calls on trains between stations.

The new coverage areas are being enabled by Transit Wireless, a company that was specifically created to design, install and maintain infrastructure for underground cell service. The company completed the infrastructure for the first six stations more than a year in advance of the MTA’s original deadline.

By 2016, Transit Wireless hopes to give the system’s 135 million subway riders cell service at all of the city’s 277 underground stations.

Transit Wireless will own and operate the underground network. AT&T and T-Mobile have each contracted with Transit Wireless for 10 years with four five-year renewal options, and the carriers will also be paying occupancy fees to the MTA.

“We’re looking forward to delivering wireless voice and data services at these six stations,” said AT&T vice president and regional general manager Tom DeVito in a statement. “This is one more way we’re helping New Yorkers get the most out of their wireless devices as they mobilize everything in their lives.”

Image courtesy of yourdon.

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