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Old August 29th, 2005, 03:48 AM   #61
asohn
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Cell Phone service coming to NYC Subway Stations

From today's New York Times

More Convenience in Subway, or Just More Screech?
By SEWELL CHAN and RACHEL METZ
Published: August 28, 2005

Lily Li, a real estate broker, takes the bus instead of the subway so that she can use her cellphone to keep track of her 7-year-old son. Alonzo Munden, a retail worker, stands in line at a pay phone on the subway platform so he can tell his wife when he will arrive home. Yoram Silagy, a lawyer, sees the subway as a sanctuary from the irritating din of idle cellphone chatter.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority's decision to invite companies to install an underground wireless phone and data network, linking the airwaves of 277 stations to the world of the streets above, could profoundly alter the time-tested rhythms of the New York City subway system. Passengers like Ms. Li, Mr. Munden and Mr. Silagy, all Manhattan residents, could find their routines enhanced or disrupted - or both.

New Yorkers might do well to look at the experience of Washington, where underground subway stations have had cellphone service since 1993 under an exclusive arrangement with what is now Verizon Wireless.

The capital is far ahead of New York when it comes to wireless service underground. In the Washington subway, it is not uncommon to see lawyers and lobbyists talking on their cellphones and sending e-mail messages with their handheld digital devices, often at the same time.

The behavior of Washington's subway riders can seem baffling to visitors. "They're not conscientious," said Juanita Waters, a government worker from Philadelphia, who was on a business trip in Washington last week. "They don't realize they're not in their home or office environment. Students curse, use profanity. Business people are just oblivious to their surroundings. They're both just as bad."

Maria Coiro, who works in a call center for Pepco, an electrical utility, and lives in Arlington, Va., said cellphones made certain riders seem only more rude. "When the doors close so quickly and it's crowded, people push so hard to get in, and they shove you," she said. "Sometimes they're on their phones, too, and they just don't care."

For some, etiquette does set limits on cellphone use. Checking one's voice mail while waiting on the platform is perfectly acceptable, but loud conversation inside the car is frowned upon. "It's a little annoying," said Alec Stone, who lives in Silver Spring, Md., and works in public relations. "I try to block it out and concentrate on my reading."

In New York City, the lack of underground cellphone service has produced some unusual rituals.

Christie Van Kehrberg, of Astoria, Queens, works at a financial company in Manhattan. Most evenings, on her ride home, she sees riders suddenly reach for their cellphones as the N or W train emerges from the tunnel under the East River and onto the elevated tracks in western Queens.

"Six people in every car are announcing the fact that they're almost home," she said. "It's completely trivial conversation, but the fact that they can call means they will."

Even after the network is built - a process that could take years - maintaining a conversation while in the tunnel will still be impossible. The authority plans to set up service only in underground stations, citing the prohibitive cost of wiring the labyrinthine tangle of tunnels.

Still, a wireless network could allow some new ways for staying in touch. A rider might dial her home number while the train is moving, hit the call button while it comes to a stop and quickly tell her husband to, say, put the casserole in the oven - all before the train pulls away again. Another rider might call his roommate and hang up after one ring - a code signaling that he is almost home. And of course, friends trying to arrange an underground rendezvous will be able to find each other more easily.

Ms. Li, the real estate broker, said she would ride the subway more often. "Sometimes, I'm expecting an important phone call, and even though the bus is slower than the subway, I have to take the bus to get that call," she said.

Others also relish the idea of the subway station as a wireless hub. Morgan Barnard, a video editor who lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, said he would happily pay for wireless Internet so that he could use his Sony PlayStation Portable, a video-game device that has a Web browser feature, underground.

"I'd probably be checking e-mail, maybe instant-messaging, maybe some gaming," said Mr. Barnard, who competes with other players online and is a member of Dodgeball, a wireless social-networking service. "People talking in the actual cars would be annoying, but people having access to cellphones on the platforms would be cool."

Others see only a nuisance in the authority's proposal. Mr. Silagy, the lawyer, said the subways were a unique, if noisy, public space. "It's one of the few places where you're not bothered by cellphones," he said. "On the street or on the buses, you hear people yapping away. You can't even read the newspaper."

Jennifier Stewart, who works for the League of American Theaters and Producers, said she did not believe the authority's claim that cellphones improved safety.

"It could impede a rescue," Ms. Stewart said. "If something were to happen down on the trains and a lot of people are on their phones, it could add to the confusion. People could potentially miss important announcements they're supposed to be listening to. They could potentially miss instructions from emergency personnel."

Eli M. Noam, a professor of finance and economics at Columbia Business School and the director of the Columbia Institute for Tele-Information, a research center, said cellphones could be only so annoying, because riding the subway is "an unpleasant enough experience" already.

"Half the people already seem to have something plugged into their ears," he said, citing the ubiquity of digital music players. "It's a way of tuning out of the environment. Cellphones are also a way of tuning out, and of being connected and making time count - which in New York is always an issue."
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Old August 29th, 2005, 03:53 AM   #62
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Its about time, America is so behind in these services. Hong Kong, and parts of Japan got it almost 10 yrs ago.
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Old August 29th, 2005, 12:59 PM   #63
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Not to mention that HK, you can use your phone whilst the train is in the tunnel...

Whether 3-(2g) cdma will let you do that, I don;t know but most carriers whether 2g or 3g will have coverage in tunnels.

--------

For those who think i'm confused about 3/2g naming, I'm not. Hutchison has decided to roll all its mobile telco under one umbrella name of '3'. with 3g services (three in other countries) named 3-(3g), gsm/gprs as 3-(dualband) and cdma services 3-(cdma). Confusing eh?
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Old August 29th, 2005, 01:07 PM   #64
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the Philippines, the texting capital of the world
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Old August 29th, 2005, 01:18 PM   #65
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Currently some 50-60% of the London Underground is accessible to mobiles. This will soon be 100% once the current project by Orange is finished.

Personally I don't like it as the deep level lines were a haven away from the immense mobile phone penetration above.
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Old August 29th, 2005, 02:02 PM   #66
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It's good to have these services, but annoying too, when everyone will soon have a phone in their ear, and will be talking on them loudly.
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Old August 29th, 2005, 02:11 PM   #67
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Technology really changes lives!
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Old August 30th, 2005, 05:16 AM   #68
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Well, I know that you can use your 3G phone now on the MTR. They are starting to advertise the service on TV.
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Old August 30th, 2005, 06:37 AM   #69
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I was in Paris last month and noticed that people were using there cellphones on several underground lines. I think it should be a common amenity on subways.
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Old August 31st, 2005, 06:54 AM   #70
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I think most Asian Subway/MRT/MTR systems have Cell phone coverage. Nothing new in ASIA. Japan and few other countries I think is having Wi-FI access on the trains as well.
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Old August 31st, 2005, 07:53 AM   #71
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Cell phone coverage also opens up a major security issue in today's terrorism-prone environment - remote-controlled bombs.
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Old August 31st, 2005, 08:13 AM   #72
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Some of the cell phone users are very annoying on the bus, how will they act on the Subway, NYC is a very tolerent city, but you can definately see or hear something very interesting on the subway once the wireless turns to be on underground.

But it is true that the safety is a big thing!

There are plenty of reasons to start the wireless service or not, but once it turns to be in NYC, it is a tough decision, not about NYC's metro sytem doesn't take the high-tech actually!
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Old August 31st, 2005, 12:14 PM   #73
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Also where is the need for Wi-Fi on metro networks? Where does anyone have the time or space available to take out their laptop and start working? On commuter and inter-city rail lines where desks are offered - yes (infact this is being tested and rolled out along the London commuter lines and inter-city services), but I don't see the practical application in Wi-Fi on metro services where most journies are only a few minutes.

At the end of the day I think in the London Underground and now even on the New York Subway that the odd person would use their phone, but the majority would carry on with what they do at the moment, look up at the ceiling, talk to someone next to them or read the paper or book. That said quite a few trains now ban mobile phones in certain area and on some of the commuter trains I've used going in and out of London, phones can be used only in the buffer spaces which is a sensible idea that probably should be implemented with metro's.
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Old August 31st, 2005, 02:44 PM   #74
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great updates!
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Old August 31st, 2005, 06:29 PM   #75
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Not particulalrly fascinating since most European subway/metro systems already offer this service, as well as many Asian cities. The biggest server in Québec (Bell Canada) offers the service in the Montréal Métro (Telus, Fido, Rogers and Virgin Mobility don't have métro coverage yet).
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Old August 31st, 2005, 08:13 PM   #76
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actually its kind of shocking that cell phones cannot be used in subways in 2005.
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Old August 31st, 2005, 08:55 PM   #77
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I didn't see a single person use a cell phone on the Tokyo subway. Perhaps the Japanese want to preserve the quietness of their transit vehicles and not chatter away in loud conversations.
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Old August 31st, 2005, 11:20 PM   #78
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London wants service in deep-level tunnels by, I believe, 2008 or 9?
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Old September 1st, 2005, 12:19 AM   #79
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heirloom
actually its kind of shocking that cell phones cannot be used in subways in 2005.
Well its easy to say that when Singapore has a smaller sized network compared to the likes of London, Moscow, Paris, New York, etc which have immense networks - coverage, logistical problems, compatability and funding are obstacles which do not affect smaller networks.

That said its only in deep level sections that mobile phone usage is a problem. I would say some 70% of the 415km London Underground is mobile-accessible and even then rarely do people use mobiles.

I personally think underground networks should be either totally mobile-free or one out of every six carriages could be mobile-zones. They are the last bastion in modern cities where you can go without being at home and free from constant chatter.
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Old September 1st, 2005, 12:31 AM   #80
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^ Even cut & cover has no service in NY, maybe the cut & cover lines are deeper in NY...
The only areas I know of where you can use a cell phone in the subway is the above ground areas. (about 40% of the system)
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