/ CALL US + 44 (0) 20 7045 0900
  • 4531_SmartTransit_2019_Banner_728x90
  • 180731_BU_EB_1802_unife-wrms_728x90

How the 110 year old New York subway developed an innovative new passenger Wireless service.

Posted by SmartRail World Staff on Oct 23, 2013

"New York City Subway ???????????????????????????????is currently one of the largest – and of one of the oldest – in the world. Coupled with the harsh subterranean environment, the project was particularly challenging...."

When Governor of New York Andrew M. Cuomo announced in April 2013 that 30 new subway stations now have wireless voice and data communications capability allowing New York City subway riders to make and receive cell phone calls, send and receive texts and e-mails, and access Wi-Fi underground it was the result of an innovative, multi-year project involving a number of industry leaders of which we take a close look at today.

36 Metropolitan stations total are now online serving an average annual ridership of approximately 7 million customers per station. Phase II of the project, which is currently underway and expected to be completed in mid-2014, includes 40 more stations, including Grand Central Station, 34th St. Herald Square and Bryant Park in mid-town Manhattan, as well as stations throughout the Borough of Queens.

Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) officials contracted Transit Wireless to build a system to enable wireless voice and data communications capabilities and rent bandwidth to mobile providers, as it would be impossible both structurally and economically for each wireless carrier to construct their own networks in the 110-year-old subway venue. Upon its completion, the Transit Wireless New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA) network will be one of the most expansive distributed antenna system (DAS) networks worldwide, allowing the use of a wide variety of mobile devices anywhere within the system with cellular and Wi-Fi coverage options along with passenger access to expanding transit applications.

Enabling the underground environment to be effectively connected is a priority that has been voiced collectively by the 1.6 billion transit riders, MTA-NYCT, and various public safety agencies. Making the subway stations wired and operational for mobile device service, however, proved to be a complicated task for engineers, requiring a distributed antenna system (DAS) and specialized cabling to support it.

We asked Saeid Malaki, Design & Construction Manager at Transit Wireless about his experience working on the project: “New York City Subway is currently one of the largest – and of one of the oldest – in the world. Coupled with the harsh subterranean environment, the project was particularly challenging. Using time-tested, reliable solutions from like RFS ensures that our designs meet the precise coverage, traffic and route requirements necessary for such a large scale and complex project.”

In order to overcome many obstacles to successfully extend wireless services to the subway stations, special considerations had to be made. Transit Wireless selected RFS and SOLiD to support its system in order to provide wireless coverage and capacity throughout the New York City Subway system including underground stations, mezzanines and corridors.

It's certainly been popular with passengers, a comment from John Dirzen of Park Slope talking CBS 2’s Hazard Sanchez about the launch being typical: "It’s going to be a lot more convenient. You can access your email. You can send text messages. That’s the most frustrating thing about being in the subway system… that you’re completely cut off from communication with work, with family so it will be really convenient."

This massive endeavor will ultimately bring wireless coverage to all 277 New York Subway Stations by its completion in 2018. See more detail on the video below:


Transit Wireless selected RFS products including HYBRIFLEX conduit cable and transmission line cabling with low smoke and zero-halogen jackets and jumpers to support the project. HYBRIFLEX combines optical fiber and DC power in a single corrugated cable.

The multiyear project will bring wireless service to all 277 of New York’s underground stations, including major stations such as Times Square, Rockefeller Center and Columbus Circle, enable 5,000 Wi-Fi hotspots and use several hundred feet of cabling to transport wireless signals. In addition to supporting 700, 850, 900, 1700, 1900, 2100 and 2500 MHz cellular bands, the NYCTA project includes public Wi-Fi at 2.4 and 5.8 GHz supporting a variety of data, advertising and other relevant services and a dedicated NYCTA band.

Read more about the project at

Topics: SOLiD, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New York City, Wi-Fi, Features, Transit Wireless, IT and WiFi, Train Wireless, RFS, HYBRIFLEX, News, Grand Central Terminal, New York City Subway, Hertz, Videos, New York City Transit Authority

Get The Latest Updates From SmartRail World

Please use the form below to leave a comment about this story.