NYC Subways, Livery Cabs to Get Free WiFi

By  Martha Walz — August 17, 2010

After three years of stalled progress, Transit Wireless will finally start work on installing WiFi in the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) subway system. The project, which is expected to cost $200 million, was stalled due to a lack of funds.

However, Broadcast Australia  recently signed a deal with Transit wireless and the MTA to fund the project, which will see the city's 277 subway stations fitted with wireless communications infrastructure that will provide commercial cellular phone and wireless data connectivity.

As part of the deal, Broadcast Australia's Managing Director of International Business, Chris Jaeger, will become CEO of Transit Wireless. "I am delighted to be part of the team that will design and construct this vital infrastructure for New York City commuters," says Jaeger. "Our group has a solid track record for developing confined-space and in-building communications systems, and we will deliver a robust communications network that will enable commuter communications and increase safety capabilities."

The project plan is to have an initial round of six stations in Manhattan outfitted in two years, with the remainder of the stations finished within four years after that. Once the project is complete, riders will have access to free WiFi on the platforms and mezzanines and in portions of the tunnels.

In addition to the subway WiFi access, passengers in livery cabs from LimoRes Car & Limo Service, UTOG Corporate Car Service Inc., and Velocity Limo Inc., will have free, advertising-supported wireless Internet access. Alex Mashinsky, venture capitalist and founder of LimoRes, plans to outfit 1,000 of these vehicles by early fall. These cars will also have power outlets for charging laptops and cellphone chargers with 10 different plugs.

The WiFi access will extend up to 400 feet away from the cars. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Mashinsky explains that his plan is to blanket the city with tens of thousands of vehicles equipped with Wi-Fi, and he plans on expanding the number of cars that are so equipped after the initial launch. His company is currently testing the system in 25 cars.

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