There is a lot to love about New York. The lack of Wi-Fi and cell service in the subway stations isn't one of them. Slowly but surely New York is joining the 21st century and adding free Wi-Fi to more subway stations each year.
Transit Wireless began phase two of its project to bring free Wi-Fi to all of New York's 277 subway stations by 2017. So far, Wi-Fi has been added to all the big-name stations where frantic commuters rush each morning and evening, as well as at those stations near the dwellings of the city's rich and almost famous. Meanwhile, people from Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx continue living in the dark with no Wi-Fi to provide entertainment. They simply go on stifling their yawns or heaven forbid, reading books and newspapers. Transit Wireless is determined to change this.
Currently, 36 stations in New York have free Wi-Fi. Transit Wireless says that its underground networks saw 2.6 million connections and processed 6 TB of data in 2013 alone. Clearly New Yorkers love their Wi-Fi. Eleven new Manhattan-based stations, including Grand Central, 34th St. Herald Square and Bryant Park will soon have free Wi-Fi. Once the company has connected a few more stations in Manhattan, it will move on to Queens, finally bringing some Wi-Fi to another borough. An additional 250 straphangers will now have Wi-Fi service during their commute. This second phase should be finished by June 2014.
"We are not only extending our network to all underground stations in Queens and additional stations in Manhattan," Transit CEO William A. Bayne Jr. said in a statement. "We are setting the stage for future innovations that will provide riders with an enhanced experience in the New York City subway system."
Free Wi-Fi has become something of a human right in our mobile-crazed age. Google and other companies have made it their mission to spread the gospel of the Internet to each and every corner of the United States and from there, the world. Information is power and the Internet is really just one mammoth library, so you can see their point, even if it seems like a first-world priority. Wi-Fi access in the subway system of New York is also a matter of safety and productivity. Many New Yorkers commute for 30 minutes to and hour each day. For people who are used to doing things 24/7, this time can feel like a monumental waste of valuable time.
The lack of connectivity in New York's subway system is also a bit shameful, when you consider that many cities in South Korea, Taiwan and Europe not only have free Wi-Fi underground, but they've had it for a while now. Still, it's good to see New York joining the 21st century, even if it might take until 2017.