The long-delayed project to wire New York City subway stations for cellphone service is finally bearing fruit. A person close to the matter said six stations will go live with the service on Tuesday.
The person speaking Friday on condition of anonymity said that AT&T Inc. and T-Mobile USA subscribers will be able to use their phones at six stations in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. Sprint and Verizon phones won't work there for now.
Cellphone service has been available in underground stations and tunnels in San Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit system since 2006, and in Boston's subway system since 2007.
The New York stations where the service will be available are on 14th Street from 6th Avenue to 8th Avenue, and on 23rd Street and 8th Avenue.
The signals will cover the platforms and mezzanines of the stations, but extend only a short distance into tunnels. Cellular data services and text messaging will work in addition to calls.
The company that's doing the wiring, Transit Wireless, has another five years to set up service at the other 271 stations in the system. That means it needs to wire about one new station per week.
The project kicked off in 2007, but very little happened the first three years, as Transit Wireless ran into financing trouble. Last year, it got an injection of new capital from Broadcast Australia, which owns TV and radio towers in Australia. Broadcast Australia is in turn owned by a Canadian pension fund.
Transit Wireless is expected to spend about $200 million on the project, and has promised the Metropolitan Transit Authority another $46 million in rent over 10 years. Transit Wireless will in turn charge wireless carriers for extending their signals underground.
The New York Times reported earlier on the Tuesday kick-off.