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Let me call you when I swipe my Metrocard
September 22, 2011 12:35 PM   Subscribe

Starting Tuesday, AT&T and T-mobile subscribers will be taking their calls on the subway platforms, and possibly, on the train itself. Subscribers riding along the 14th Street corridor should be able to use their phones on the A, C, E, F, L, M, No. 1, 2 and 3 platforms. There is also expected to be service on the C and E platforms at 23rd Street. It it not clear yet if service will also work between stations, but we're sure we'll all find out soon enough. All stations are expected to be outfitted with cell service by 2016.
posted by roomthreeseventeen (59 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
. . . in New York City, that is.
posted by Think_Long at 12:37 PM on September 22, 2011 [9 favorites]


People on the subway holding involved conversations with thin air? This is the future!
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:38 PM on September 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
posted by The Whelk at 12:39 PM on September 22, 2011 [8 favorites]


Y'all don't get cell coverage in the subway? Geez, I've been getting reception in the transbay tube for years.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:40 PM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Hey! I'm talkin' here! I'm talkin' here!"
posted by George Clooney at 12:41 PM on September 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


Just don't organize any protests in the stations.
posted by kmz at 12:41 PM on September 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


. . . in New York City, that is.

Shoot, I always forget there are people who don't live here.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:44 PM on September 22, 2011 [9 favorites]


On ONE hand -- I have the worst luck with subway transport. Invariably I end up getting stuck on a train that is running slow, gets the emergency brake tripped, breaks down, goes express and skips the station I need, gets rerouted, gets the sick passenger, is late...and I've been trapped there underground with NO way to be able to call the people expecting me and alert them to my trouble. So this would be a boon.

On the OTHER hand....oh god spare me from some of the conversations i am going to be hearing now.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:46 PM on September 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Now every line can be as annoying as going over the Williamsburg Bridge on the JMZ as people shout into their phones to be heard over the rumble! Progress!
posted by nathancaswell at 12:46 PM on September 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


All the lines of the Brussels metro had full cell service when I lived there last year.
posted by dhens at 12:47 PM on September 22, 2011


Countdown to the "Cell Phone Strangler" in T minus 5... 4...
posted by griphus at 12:48 PM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


So now I get to listen to the stranger next to me relating the intimate details of their visit to the walk-in clinic. It'll be just like taking the bus.
posted by JaredSeth at 12:48 PM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


One of the very few pleasant things about being on the subway - anywhere - was the lack of cell phone reception. Oh, well. Looks like I can add "Hi. I'm on the subway. THE SUBWAY!!!" to my Public Transit Bingo board.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:52 PM on September 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hang on we're going underground. Hello? What did you say? WHAT? NO THE RECEPTION IS REALLY BAD SO I AM GOING TO YELL REALLY LOUD. WHAT? OH NOT MUCH JUST CALLING TO SAY 'HI'.
posted by griphus at 12:55 PM on September 22, 2011 [9 favorites]


I thought the lack of reception made the subway remote-detonator bomb-proof..?

I guess it's progress that that's no longer a concern.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:55 PM on September 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


OH NOT MUCH JUST CALLING TO SAY 'HI'.

In my experience it is usually people shouting the details of their recent colonoscopy. Although one time there was this massive fucking douchebag who was listening, via speakerphone, to the sobbing messages his recent ex-girlfriend had left him, begging to get back together, and laughing aloud.
posted by elizardbits at 1:00 PM on September 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Looks like the L now has full cell coverage. I remember when US Cellular (I think it was them) first got to put in transmitters in the underground portions of the Red and Blue lines and people were not happy. Of course most of the L is above ground anyway so I never quite understood why people were so mad about it.
posted by kmz at 1:00 PM on September 22, 2011


Talking on your phones on public transportation? Sheesh, NYC really DOES have Portland envy.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:00 PM on September 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


Subscribers riding along the 14th Street corridor should be able to use their phones

Just one more reason to stay away from the L train.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 1:01 PM on September 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


What about service on the streets above ground? Has att worked out that little issue yet?
posted by youthenrage at 1:02 PM on September 22, 2011 [20 favorites]



Shoot, I always forget there are people who don't live here.


Seriously? So obnoxious.
posted by kbanas at 1:04 PM on September 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


Just don't plan any protests, because that shit will get shut off with the quickness.
posted by cashman at 1:07 PM on September 22, 2011


Wait, so if we protest this, it'll actually work?
posted by griphus at 1:08 PM on September 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh, God. As if people don't already use their phones for enough annoying activities on the subway:

"Hey, dude playing Bejeweled, maybe you could plug in your headphones so we don't have to hear every point scored. Hey, woman listening to salsa music, dancing on the train? Really? Hey, headphone zombie kid listening to Metallica four seats away, I know which song you're listening to. That means you're hurting your ears. And bothering me. But at least you're using headphones, unlike the too-old-to-be-blaring-gangsta-rap-from-his-phone's-speaker guy over there. (Curse the man or woman who first thought of putting SPEAKERS on those things!) Hey, teens, please stop taking pictures of each other near me. I don't want to end up on your MySpace page. Oh, and now the train is above ground, let's all call our friends!"

Once a month or so I do the unthinkable and ask somebody to turn it down. I try to do so politely. They usually comply. But one of these days I'm gonna get my ass kicked simply for asking.

I have always been a big fan of the subway system, and I'm proud that taking the train minimizes my carbon footprint. But when this plan goes full system, I WILL start driving instead:

"Hey, turn OFF your blinker if you're not turning!..." etc. I know.
posted by etc. at 1:08 PM on September 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Maybe I'm just lucky -- and if I am, I wish New Yorkers this luck -- but Chicago seems to have gotten really good at shaming/silencing people into not talking that long/loud on the train. Most conversations tend to be quiet and/or short, and I know I'm not the only one who, if I answer at all, says "I'll call you when I get off the train."

Most of the people who annoy me with their loud phone conversations seem to be of the type who would be annoying me if they weren't on the phone too.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:25 PM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you don't like it, maybe you can get it shut off by blogging something about an imaginary protest?
posted by -harlequin- at 1:26 PM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


YEAH, I'M ON THE TRAIN! I'LL BE THERE IN FIVE MINUTES!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:30 PM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fuck this.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 1:31 PM on September 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


glad to see the NYC MTA catch up with what the hamburg subway system has had for ten years. or was it fifteen?
posted by krautland at 1:34 PM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Shoot, I always forget there are people who don't live here.

Seriously? So obnoxious.


I know! What are these people thinking, living in such clearly inferior places?
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 1:37 PM on September 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


All the lines of the Brussels metro had full cell service when I lived there last year.

Brussels Metro: 40.5 km, 68 stations.

I've been getting reception in the transbay tube for years.

BART: 167 km, 44 stations.

the hamburg subway system has had for ten years.

Hamburg U-Bahn: 100.7 km, 89 stations.

New York City Subway: 1,355 km, 468 stations. 10-20 times bigger than those other railways.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 1:42 PM on September 22, 2011 [14 favorites]


Now if T-Mobile could just provide adequate coverage over all the rest of the colored-in parts of the map they claim to serve, we'd be set.

(Shakes fist at unreliable cell towers in NE Mpls...)
posted by gimonca at 1:48 PM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's been Verizon coverage in the DC metro for a long time and AT&T coverage rolling out at a snail's pace for years now. Of course now the question is what NYC agency gets to simply turn off the coverage when they feel like it.
posted by phearlez at 1:48 PM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


A good portion of my year in (South) Korea was spent underground on the fantastic, eerily punctual subway system. The majority of my fellow passengers spent their commute texting, or watching streaming television (mainly of the sappy variety - famously overwrought telenovas) on their 2"x2" screens.
They also spent some time ogling the curious foreigner nervously breakbeat drumming on his thighs..

Though they were incredibly staid commutes, the upside was that:
a) mobile phones were rarely used for verbal conversations, and
b) when they were used, the speaker usually covered his or her mouth while talking.
posted by obscurator at 2:05 PM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, DC's metro has had at least limited coverage for years and it's gotten much more extensive recently. Obnoxious people talking on the phone isn't that big of an issue and it's great to have a data signal so you read read the internet and check your email or whatever.

Anyway, all the loud conversations in the world are 1% as irritating as people who blast music from the tinny speakers of their phones. I guess using headphones is too complicated.
posted by The Lamplighter at 2:08 PM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sad that the London Underground doesn't have mobile coverage below ground (although most of it is above ground and does). Technically possible, financially feasible, and I really don't buy into the 'last bastion of pleasant silence' codgerdom.

But we don't have it, because of the way the system was sort-of privatised meant that any sort of non-core investment involves so many corporate entities having to agree on so many contracts that it's effectively impossible. Huawei even offered to install the infrastructure for free: the matrix of contracts needed across so many mutually antagonistic companies couldn't be made to happen.
posted by Devonian at 2:08 PM on September 22, 2011


Obnoxious people talking on the phone isn't that big of an issue

Pretty much a complete non-issue on BART or MUNI underground in SF Bay Area. The trains are just too loud to conduct a normal conversation. You do get a few "YEAH, I'LL BE THERE IN 5 MINUTES," but that's inevitable.

Also, I think the populace at large has mostly grokked the fact that one of the most annoying things in the world is listening to half of a conversation.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:15 PM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Shoot, I always forget there are people who don't live here. --- Here's a hint : Most of us don't.
posted by crunchland at 2:16 PM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't recall anything about there being plans to introduce cell service between stations in NYC?

My understanding was that getting service in the stations was a massive undertaking as it is. Given just how corrupt and hopelessly fucked the MTA has been for the past several decades, I simply can't see them actually making much progress on this in the near future.

I mean...have they even gotten the train arrival signs to function yet? That project was supposed to be done 6 or 8 years ago, wasn't it? (Not to mention the entire 2nd Ave Subway, which has "almost ready" since the 1930s). The NYC subway fascinates me for its astonishing ability to work at all -- AFAIK, they still used rotary converters to provide power to their trains until just a few years ago.

On the other hand, here in DC, where our subway wasn't also built to function as a sewer, we're on track to have 100% coverage throughout the entire system by the end of next year, and to my knowledge already have 100% coverage within the stations themselves.
posted by schmod at 2:20 PM on September 22, 2011


roomthreeseventeen: ". . . in New York City, that is.

Shoot, I always forget there are people who don't live here.
"

Ah. Here's a map to jog your memory.
posted by schmod at 2:21 PM on September 22, 2011 [3 favorites]




Anyway, all the loud conversations in the world are 1% as irritating as people who blast music from the tinny speakers of their phones.

I am always tempted to stand next to these people and start blasting the Carpenters from my tiny cellphone speakers but I don't like getting beat up.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 2:42 PM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, keep in mind when making fun of the NYC subway for being antiquated, that it was first built in the 19th century and is now budget-controlled by lawmakers in Albany that hate NYC. You, dear reader from far away, have taken the subway probably far more times than the people in charge of it.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 3:04 PM on September 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also, I think the populace at large has mostly grokked the fact that one of the most annoying things in the world is listening to half of a conversation.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:15 PM on September 22 [+] [!]

What a wonderful world in which you live mrgrimm.
posted by yesster at 3:40 PM on September 22, 2011


I wish they could figure out how to enable texting and not voice service. I would like to be able to let people know when it's the subway's fault I'm late again (as opposed to letting them go on assuming I'm a flake as usual).
posted by double bubble at 4:09 PM on September 22, 2011


We've had this in a good chunk of the Boston subway for a few years now and I don't think it's really caused any dramatic changes other than offering people another conduit through which to disengage with the world around them. (And I say that as someone who disengages as much as anyone.) I can't recall a time where I was annoyed by someone's loud phone conversation on the T, so, if they're happening with any regularity, they're not disruptive enough for me to take note. Subway rides tend to be transitory enough that any one source of annoyance is usually gone before too long, even if it's replaced by another.

Plus, they've never been quiet meditative spaces to begin with, unless you're the sort of urban-oriented person who thrives in the sensory soup of a city. Screeching brakes, tunnels whooshing by, doors opening and closing, muffled announcements, all sorts of "interesting" smells, etc... I imagine this will end up being much ado about nothing. And the safety benefits from having extra lines of communication available for emergencies are more than worth it, I'd say.
posted by Kosh at 4:21 PM on September 22, 2011


Shoot, I always forget there are people who don't live here.

Oddly enough, also a frequent title used for New Yorker articles.
posted by hippybear at 4:42 PM on September 22, 2011


In a place where personal space is such a fragile thing to maintain, I can't help thinking this is a bad idea.
posted by Skygazer at 5:17 PM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


1970s Antihero : So? The whole POINT of Cellular is that it scales up with incredible cheapness and ease. Brussels and Hamburg have under 2 million people. New York has like 20 million people. I think they're doing something similar in Tokyo, which is like 13 million. It's not exactly one of the great works of engineering or anything.

I'm more interested in how this got set up: is AT&T leasing the space? Have they signed some monopoly agreement with the transit system or city or something? As far as I can see, the only mention of any of the stuff like that is one line: No word on when Verizon customers can expect service.
posted by absalom at 7:06 PM on September 22, 2011


Commenting just to comment while riding a subway in a city that has had cell and data service on all it's lines for many years. This includes service on all underground portions and between stations.

We also have these super high tech contactless RFID cards that don't require swiping and have no magnetic strip to wear out. Ooohhhhh!

But keep at New York, you'll get there eventually!
posted by 6550 at 12:27 AM on September 23, 2011


1970s Antihero: To be fair, those numbers aren't quite right for many reasons, for example the NYC Subway travels above ground pretty often. I assume cell phones work above ground in NYC. That's not to say that it's not a big system.

In Berlin talking on the phones is generally not a big problem, I would say it seems most people keep the volume low and conversations short when it's more crowded during commuting hours.
posted by romanb at 1:53 AM on September 23, 2011


The whole POINT of Cellular is that it scales up with incredible cheapness and ease.

And Berlin and Brussels got their service sooner because it was ten times cheaper and easier to light up their systems than it is in New York. When people point out that their cities have mobile service on their subways, they do no seem to realize how daunting it is to do the same thing in NY, due to the sheer size of the system, and for other reasons, like the fact that the subway in NY doesn't shut down at night.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 4:15 AM on September 23, 2011


When people point out that their cities have mobile service on their subways, they do no seem to realize how daunting it is to do the same thing in NY, due to the sheer size of the system, and for other reasons, like the fact that the subway in NY doesn't shut down at night.

There was a time when the US wouldn't have used rational like that as an excuse for failure. No wonder the US is falling further and further behind with broadband and mobile data.
posted by 6550 at 4:44 AM on September 23, 2011


It's so cute the way all you folks actually believe that it will work in the first place.
posted by Splunge at 5:56 AM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not exactly one of the great works of engineering or anything.

Objectively, no. The fact that the MTA is handling this under the influence of Albany's budget means that in the time it takes for a functioning network to be established we could've built two Colossi of Rhodes, A Hanging Garden of Babylon and half a Sphinx.
posted by griphus at 6:28 AM on September 23, 2011


Chicago seems to have gotten really good at shaming/silencing people into not talking that long/loud on the train. Most conversations tend to be quiet and/or short, and I know I'm not the only one who, if I answer at all, says "I'll call you when I get off the train."

Chicago is a massive world-class city to be sure, but it is still in the Midwest, with all the required surface politeness that entails.
posted by padraigin at 6:33 AM on September 23, 2011


Having the best assholes doesn't mean NY is the best in everything else.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 6:48 AM on September 23, 2011


And Berlin and Brussels got their service sooner because it was ten times cheaper and easier

Moscow, with its nearly 9 million passengers daily (second after Tokyo), has been adding 3G coverage for years now. I could only find press releases from years ago, since I guess it's fairly old news.
posted by romanb at 6:50 AM on September 23, 2011


On the other hand, here in DC, where our subway wasn't also built to function as a sewer, we're on track to have 100% coverage throughout the entire system by the end of next year, and to my knowledge already have 100% coverage within the stations themselves.

More like 63% coverage in the stations and it's sporadic (based on station usage). Even just on the ride from Ballston to Rosslyn on the orange line there are several stations w/o coverage. The green line is even worse. The last document I'm aware of specifying stations indicates there's 47 done and 27 to go (above-ground stations are not in either count). A 2010 document proposed being done with all the stations Octover of next year but I'm not sure if that made it past the board.
posted by phearlez at 3:08 PM on September 23, 2011


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