Comcast announced today that it has activated Xfinity WiFi hotspots in the subway platform areas on Boston’s Green Line from North Station to Kenmore. Comcast is the first provider to offer WiFi in portions of the first subway line to open in the United States.
InSite Wireless, a Virginia company that is currently performing the installation of wireless service on the MBTA, recently announced that it has partnered with all the major wireless providers — Sprint, AT&T, Verizon,T-Mobile, and Comcast for WiFi services on the project. InSite is a major player in distributed antenna systems (DAS).
The RADIAFLEX cable as deployed in Boston is a radiating cable, similar to regular cable but with slots cut into the outer conductor that allows the cable to work like a sprinkler hose and “spray out” low levels of signal along its entire length. InSite Wireless has installed over 60,000 feet of RADIAFLEX across the MBTA network
As a neutral host DAS provider, each of the 4 big wireless carriers and Comcast can use the system. InSite’s distributed antenna system covers 35 stations and provides connectivity throughout the 19.5-mile network of underground tunnels.
New York City’s subway wireless system was built by Transit Wireless. Phase two of the installation added 40 new stations in Manhattan and Queens. The ultimate goal is to bring wireless service to all 277 of New York City subway stations by 2017.
The Base Station Hotel is one of three pieces that make up the network, explains Gizmodo on a tour of the facility. Each carrier gets routed by fiber in the ceiling into a Radio Frequency Headend. It basically consolidates all the carriers’ wires down into just a few fiber cables. The Remote Fiber Node at the subway station eliminates bulky electronics by sending RF frequencies over fiber to the remote basestation.
Boston’s MBTA also offers Wi-Fi hotspots on trains. Unlike New York, Boston subway users will be able to use their wireless devices from the street to the underground platform, and during their ride. In NYC, by contrast, only the subway platforms are enabled for wireless connections.
Xfinity WiFi customers can access Xfinity WiFi hotspots at no additional charge by selecting “xfinitywifi” from the list of available networks on their laptops or mobile devices, and entering their Comcast ID or email and password.
All others pay.
Cable operators probably hope to “take out” any truly free competition in the lower 5 GHz band, now authorized for outdoor use with higher power. Fierce Wireless says Time Warner Cable is seeking authority to operate 20,000 existing, non-compliant U-NII-3 access points in the U-NII-1 band and a second waiver requests permission to operate up to 10,000 new, non-compliant U-NII-3 devices in the U-NII-1 band as well.
Comcast announced in March 2014 that the Xfinity WiFi network surpassed 300,000 hotspots across New England, and the company plans to have more than 8 million WiFi hotspots around the country by the end of the year.
David Leininger, Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer at Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), has some sage advice on incorporating consumer-facing technology.