Transport Theory

New Yorkers: Wi-Fi access coming soon to a subway station near you

Posting in Cities

Boingo Wireless plans to bring Wi-Fi to New York's subway stations, a prospect that is both exciting and a little depressing.

New York subway riders, listen up! Your commute to work is about to get better. Pretty soon, you may be able to play Words with Friends while standing on an underground subway platform.

Boingo Wireless, the popular Wi-Fi provider found in airports and other public spaces, has just inked a deal to provide Wi-Fi access in New York City's subway stations. That means New York's 1.6 billion annual subway riders will be able to use their smartphones, e-readers, tablets, and other electronic gizmos to send email, check the weather forecast, download the e-book they saw someone reading, and update their Facebook status, all while waiting for their train.

The agreement with Transit Wireless (the entity created to develop shared wireless infrastructure for New York's subway stations) calls for a gradual roll out of the new Wi-Fi access in subway stations throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens over the next five years.

“We look forward to providing New Yorkers, our customers and our roaming partners with the reliable connectivity they crave, whether at street level or on the subway platform," said Colby Goff, senior vice president of strategy and business development for Boingo Wireless.

The Wi-Fi access will not be free, however. The service will be available to Boingo subscribers as well as to Boingo's Wi-Fi roaming partners, including Skype, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon.

While many will cheer the prospect of subway Wi-Fi access, others may lament the loss of one of the last places where, try as you might, you simply could not check your email. It seems like the days of, "Sorry I didn't respond to your message, the train took forever to arrive," are numbered.

Photos: Flickr/Paul Lowry and Thierry

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Channtal Fleischfresser

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Channtal Fleischfresser has worked for The Economist, WNET/Channel 13, Al Jazeera English, Wall Street Journal and Associated Press. She holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure