Free Subway WiFi in NYC

One month in to free Wifi provided in six New York City subway stations, commuters are pretty happy about it, reports the Associated Press.

The new service is part of a $200 million plan to connect the subway to the outside world by Transit Wireless, the company in charge of building and designing the network. They are working with both mobile carriers and WiFi providers to provide cellphone and data connectivity to all 277 underground stations in New York by 2017.

The free WiFi service is sponsored by Google Offers. It is available on train platforms at five stations, all in the Chelsea neighborhood.

Boingo Wireless is one of the first clients for Transit Wireless. Boingo is known for providing Wi-Fi services in airports but now wants to enter the advertising game. Boingo’s mobile plan runs for $7.95 a month, and the company already offers 500,000 hotspots worldwide. Boingo Wireless said on Wednesday that it had purchased Cloud Nine Media, a small firm focused on selling embedded ads on public Wi-Fi hotspots, such as those in airports and restaurants.

Global internet advertising expenditures will rise about 31.5% between 2011 and 2013, according to a July 2011 forecast from Zenith Optimedia. Internet ad spending is expected to total about $72.18 billion USD this year, and reach $94.97 billion in 2013.

Both Google and Boingo see Wi-Fi as a chance to advertise to more than 1.6 billion riders every year. While the Google Offers’ sponsorship officially ends on Sept. 7, it could continue. Boingo and Transit Wireless said they have others in the pipeline, in case it doesn’t.

Some of the sponsorship money goes to cover operating costs, which Transit Wireless says can cost several thousand dollars a month per station. The MTA is working with Transit Wireless but says it will not incur any costs.

Wireless carriers who have contracted with Transit Wireless provide voice and data service in underground subway stations by co-locating their Base Stations with Transit Wireless’ Optical distribution equipment at a Transit Wireless Base Station Hotel. The centralized facility is a resilient, fault-tolerant facility with redundant air-conditioning and power.

Customers of T-Mobile and AT&T can also use cellphones in the six stations. Negotiations continue for telecom companies like Verizon and Sprint to join.

A “Basestation Hotel” is used in London’s Olympic Park. The central facility feeds antennas in all the venue sites, using radio over fiber. Both antennas and basestations are connected by fiber. They convert the optical signal directly into electrical signals. Fiber carries the RF great distances, so basestations don’t need to be co-located with antennas. Cell sites are shrunk without the need for basestation electronics.

Each Olympic competition venue has separate Ethernet to each PoP, providing one of the two available options – either 1 Gbps Ethernet or 10 Gbps Optical.

By using an optical connection directly to the antenna, such as Lucent’s lightRadio, the size, power and complexity is reduced dramatically.

Subway and light rail trains in every big city already have the power and infrastructure. Perhaps basestation hotels could provide lower costs and better service with pole-mounted, multi-carrier antennas.

Signage that’s not interactive is so 20th Century.

Carriers could share the cost for 100 Mbps wireless network infrastructure. In exchange, they might be mandated to serve everyone with free 1 Mbps WiFi on public rights of way. Ad revenue could go to municipalities and transit agencies. Microcells can be nearly invisible, like those in a Vancouver BC rendering (below).

Alcatel-Lucent supplies wireless service through the Channel Tunnel, 100 metres below sea level, using a leaky feeder cable for transmission, with optical repeaters installed every 750 meters.

Currently only French network service is available on the two hour trip. UK customers are subject to standard roaming charges. British telecoms operators will cover the north rail tunnel (UK to France traffic) after the Olympics.

Related Dailywireless articles include; London: The Biggest Small Network in the World, Ad Sponsored Wi-Fi for Malls, Transit Connectivity Makes Money, Confessions Underground, “Free” Public WiFi with WiMAX Backhaul, NetZero: Free WiMAX Service, Banner Ads: Google’s Next Thrust?, Free WiFi with Video Ads Expands, Free Push-To-Talk from Wave, Internet Ad Revenue Up 23%, Google Nixes Neighborhood Wireless, “Free” Public WiFi with WiMAX Backhaul, Cable MSO’s Create “CableWiFi” Network, Time Warner Cable Beams Muni WiFi, AT&T: Free WiFi (with Video Ads), Street light Provides Wi-Fi, Cell Coverage

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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