If your dream of the future involves constant wireless connectivity and the ability to Tweet or text or update your Facebook status from, like, anywhere, your dream is nigh. The MTA has approved a licensing agreement to construct “a state-of-the-art, multi-carrier wireless commercial network” that will provide service to Grand Central Terminal, including the platform/trainshed areas and that lonely 2-mile Park Avenue tunnel.
Meaning — no escape for the wicked, my friends. Your boss/divorce attorney/probation officer/agent will soon be able to hunt you down and extract punishment wherever you are. Just so you know.
But on the positive side, you’ll have cell service and can IM all of your friends while waiting down in the dark underground tunnel for your Metro-North train to leave the station.
We spoke to Marjorie Anders of the MTA, who told us that the whole process will take about 3 years: After the consortium hires a contractor there will be time for design (figuring out where to hide antennas in a 48-acre rail yard and not interfere with train signals is tricky business!), and installation will follow.
“It could happen sooner,” she said. “You’ll start getting coverage in places — like in the corner of the terminal where your phone never used to work, and by 2013 it will be fully functional.”
There will also be WiFi and an internal radio communications network for MTA use, including public safety and first responders. Metro-North estimates that it will receive $24.3 million in benefits under the agreement, at no cost to the railroad. Verizon, Sprint Nextel, AT&T, and T-Mobile will take on the cost, happily it seems.
“Everybody wants to have full, better coverage, and the carriers will get more customers,” said Anders.
Hey, we’re psyched.