Transit Wireless Brings Verizon Wireless Signal to NY Subway Stations

1/29/14Follow @jpruth

After months of talks and elbow grease, Transit Wireless has connected Verizon Wireless to some subways beneath New York’s streets.

So far, some 35 stations, largely along Manhattan’s west side, are being lit up with the carrier’s voice and data network. This is one part of a big project that Transit Wireless, based in Long Island City, NY, is overseeing to connect multiple wireless carriers to all 277 subway stations in New York. Thanks to signal relays installed by Transit Wireless, Verizon Wireless customers waiting at station platforms will be able to maintain their mobile connections.

The addition of Verizon means all the major domestic wireless carriers are extending their wireless signals to stations across New York. The project includes Manhattan and its subway-linked boroughs. “We will have by the end of this year more than 100 stations completed,” says William Bayne, CEO of Transit Wireless.

The plan is to install signal nodes that let folks waiting for subway trains make calls, send texts, and connect to the Web. Bayne says carriers want to keep customers on their voice and data networks right until they catch their trains.

RF nodes and fiber optic cabling connects this subway station to the wireless network.

RF nodes and fiber optic cabling connects this subway station to the wireless network.

Last year, Transit Wireless got Sprint on board with the project, though its service is not yet available at subway stations. “They’re finalizing their equipment,” Bayne says. AT&T and T-Mobile had previously signed on, and are available at stations connected in the early parts of the project, he says.

Though these subterranean signal relays currently do not connect riders on moving trains, Bayne says Transit Wireless is looking at ways to clear that hurdle. “We’ve been asked by NYC Transit to do some technology trials to cover tunnels,” he says. “We’ll be doing some testing in [the second quarter] in some of the Queens stations.”

Because subway trains run day and night, it is difficult to build out a wireless network inside the tunnels, Bayne says. “We have to find a way to do it without disrupting subway traffic,” he says.

The overall project will be completed in seven phases, Bayne says, with several dozen stations getting connected during each stage. By his estimates, Transit Wireless will finish ahead of its 2018 deadline. “Our schedule right now is for 2016,” he says.

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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