One of the last frontiers for cell phone coverage - the New York subway, is set to be reached within the coming years thanks to a deal involving AT&T and T-Mobile each signing ten year contracts with Transit Wireless allowing their customers access Transit's subway network
The infrastructure is still a number of years from completion, but after years of delays and negotiations the signing and length of the contracts is a solid indicator that subway users will soon be able to utilise their cell phones while waiting for their trains.
Crucially however, the signal will only be accessible at the subway stations themselves, there will be no reception on-board the trains once in transit. However, even given this the news is a welcome development for commuters for whom the ability to send a text, or make an email would be very useful in the event of a delayed or missed train on the way to work.
The planned infrastructure has traditionally been compared with that of London's in the UK, which is on course to have a fully installed below ground mobile network installed before the launch of the 2012 Olympics. Importantly however, the London network will include coverage for subway trains in transit which shows New York it is possible, even if the London scheme is expected to cost hundred of millions of pounds for the installation.
Although to some this introduction of below ground network coverage may seem high tech, for large European and Asian cities it is as natural as running water and if New York is to remain a world class city it's quite evident that technological investments such as this are a necessity.
Whilst the introduction of such a scheme would no doubt be a serious technological advancement for New York, there are concerns amongst many New Yorkers of the annoyance the ability to hold phone conversations on the subway may cause to other commuters.