Wi-Fi Service Coming to NYC's Livery Cars

Cars will also have outlets for charging laptops, phones

Wednesday, Aug 4, 2010  |  Updated 10:15 AM EDT
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A thousand livery cars are expected to be equipped with roaming wireless Internet by fall under one businessman's plan to expand web access throughout the city.

New York venture capitalist Alex Mashinsky eventually plans to expand the free, advertising-supported Wi-Fi access to subway stations and potentially "tens of thousands" of livery vehicles, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The initial launch involves Mashinsky's company, LimoRes Car & Limo Service, and two other companies. Passengers and people within 400 feet of the vehicles will benefit from free, ad-supported wireless access.

The community car services are popular in areas with fewer yellow cabs, such as the outer boroughs and upper Manhattan.

The cars also will have outlets for charging laptops and phones.

Service can potentially be uneven because the cars move, but Mashinsky told The Journal he expects that issue to be rectified once other vehicles get equipped and the technology develops to enable web surfers to transmit signals from other points.

The company has already tested the technology in more than two dozen cars -- and experts say results have been encouraging thus far.

"It has an excellent shot at expanding coverage," analyst Richard Doherty, who founded a digital-technology research company independent of the city's latest effort, told The Journal. "It's very clever." 

Mashinsky is also part of a venture to provide Internet and cell phone service in subway stations.

While some livery cab-riders may applaud the idea, yellow cab-passengers shouldn't be so quick to get excited. Yellows cabs are heavily regulated by the Taxi & Limousine Commission, and all technology added to them must undergo an intense evaluation period before it gets approved, reports The Journal.

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