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NYC Subways Cutting Service But Score Subterranean WiFi

Ironically as the NY City Transit Authority needs to cut services and increase fares to close in on a $900 million budget gap for its subway system, a service long requested by commuters will be added. The desire of being connected 24/7 is coming close close to fruition in the Big Apple.

After an almost three-year delay, work is underway to outfit six subterranean stations near 14th Street for Manhattan's West side with wireless service on the platforms. The stations include those that accommodate several trains along 14th Street at Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Avenues and at 23rd Street and Eighth Avenue

With a cost of $200 million, Transit Wireless LLC was awarded the contract and is required to complete the remaining 271 underground stations in four years.

So how does the hand "that is taking away" -  all of a sudden get an opportunity to give something of value to its commuters? Well, apparently in winning the contract, Transit Wireless is under and obligation to pay the NY City Transit $46 million dollars for the privilege. Sounds like a win-win situation to me.

Once the project is complete, riders will have mobile service on the platform, mezzanines and portions of the tunnels and telecom companies that includes AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel would pay Transit Wireless to use its network.

According to a Bloomberg news report, "the revenue from the project would come at a welcome time for New York." The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the New York state agency that runs the city’s subways, buses, commuter rails and some bridges and tunnels, has been cutting service and paring jobs to help close a budget gap of more than $900 million this year. The agency is considering a proposal to raise monthly subway and bus fares by at least $10 to help raise cash.

“We’ve been scanning for opportunities like this one,” said Chris Jaeger, managing director of international business for Broadcast Australia that has majority stake in Transit Wireless. “The project fits very neatly with our business aspirations.”

"The work on the subway system wouldn’t interfere with regular train service because it’s limited to the platforms, Jaeger said. He said he hoped to arrange for Transit Wireless to wire the subway tunnels for full service too, though there are no immediate plans to do so.

Talk about being connected 24/7 - seems like before you know it - the entire world will be wireless, and there will be be no place to catch a breather between phone calls, emails, tweets and text messages!

Reminds me of those refrains from that Jimmy Buffet's song "Everybody's on the Phone."

Everybody's on the phone
So connected and all alone

Message in a bottle
Rhythm of a drum
Smoke signals and telegraphs
Make the airwaves hum

But that's all ancient history
Like bongs and Lincoln Logs
Now we're livin' like the Jetsons
In a wacky wireless fog

Catch you on the 6 Train!