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New York subways catch up its cellular service

By Joanna Law (People's Daily Online)

09:09, February 17, 2012

Mobile phone signal can be found in almost every corner of the big cities in China such as Beijing and Shanghai. People can talk on the phone, surf the Internet, or upload photos without interruption even when they are in the Metro. Such is also the case in Singapore, Tokyo, and Hong Kong – but not in New York.

Perhaps one might expect that in New York City, where the legendary financial center the Wall Street is located, cellular and data connection service in the subways must have been up running in its full capacity for years. Yet such a service was only officially rolled out in summer last year.

“We were planning on doing this for a while, but what happened was that there was a major recession and economic downturn, and it results in reducing the capital of the ability for investment in wireless projects, “said Kevin Ortiz, a spokesman for New York City Transit, to People’s Daily Online USA. .

The idea of bringing in wireless service underground was initially started before the recession took the toll in 2008. But it stalled after Transit Wireless, the company that won the contract, had financing issues during the economic turmoil. The US$200 million plan halted for almost three years until 2010, when Transit Wireless was acquired by Broadcast Australia, a company in underground wireless networks. Only then did the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) give the green light to resume the project, installing what Transit Wireless prizes on its website as “one of the most expansive Distributed Antenna System (DAS) networks globally” in the subways of New York City.

When asked why there was no mobile phone signal on platforms until last year, William A. Bayne Jr., CEO of Transit Wireless, explained to People’s Daily Online USA this way, “The New York City subway system must operate with no shutdown 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The MTA wanted to be sure that wireless service could be installed with no disruption in service.”

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