Mixed signals over subway cell service - Metro US

Mixed signals over subway cell service

Straphangers are sending the MTA mixed signals about the subway’s new cellphone service.

“As I came up the stairs my phone started buzzing — I was shocked!” said DeShawn Paul, 39, a salesman from the Bronx, at the 14th Street and Eighth Avenue station. “I didn’t think they could do it.”

Transit Wireless, the company installing the technology, announced that 30 more stations will have cell service in the next 12 months, including Columbus Circle, Times Square and Herald Square. They’re also hoping to secure contracts with other carriers, like Verizon and Sprint. Currently, those customers don’t have a signal.

But not everyone is thrilled with the gift of gab.

“Since cellphones were invented, obnoxious people have been abusing them,” said Hector Colon, 35, a security guard from the Lower East Side. “It’s going to be annoying to hear their conversations.”

For better or worse, service will be contained to platforms: There are currently no plans to outfit all 500 miles of subway tunnels with wireless service, according to Transit Wireless. The total cost to the company is between $100 million and $200 million to outfit all 277 underground subway stations; the MTA pays nothing for the service.

Ariel Roper, 17, an NYU student, said the service would be useful if she was ever lost or late, but she doesn’t plan on making noisy phone calls. “Talking loud on the phone could attract the wrong kind of attention,” she said.

Can you hear me now?

Metro went to 14th Street to test out the new cell service ourselves, but there was one problem: We have Verizon!

Ever curious of the new subway etiquette involving calls inside stations, we pretended to make a call to our therapist — as loud as humanly possible.

Two dirty looks and one “shut up” later, we “hung up.”

Follow Emily Anne Epstein on Twitter @EmilyatMetro.

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