Competition to offer WiFi on New York commuter trains heats up

Competition is heating up for a WiFi contract that will be issued by New York City's Metropolitan Transit Authority that would see WiFi installed on commuter trains.

NYFI, which is backed by tower firm Mobilitie and operates a DAS network in Manhattan, has a proposal that includes free WiFi access for all commuters with the idea that NYFI's investments would be recouped by changing the MAT's revenue-generation businesses such as advertising.

"Unlike another proposal, the NYFI solution would not require users to subscribe to a service like Cablevision to access the system without paying. NYFI service is designed to be good for everyone," NYFI said.

Cablevision, which has rolled out vast blankets of WiFi throughout New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, has a proposal with the MTA that would offer its cable subscribers free access on commuter trains. People who are not Cablevision subscribers would have to pay a fee for access.

In March, the MTA issued a request for product (RFP) to install WiFi on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Commuter Rail Road trains. It invited Cablevision and AT&T to show proof of concepts. The MTA has said it is keen on selecting a WiFi service provider that will market the service as a service provider offering. MTA doesn't want to incur any costs associated with the service because of tight budget constraints.

"The Railroads' key business objective for a WiFi network is to improve passenger satisfaction," MTA said in its RFP. "Our current thinking is that the WiFi service should be marketed as a product of the service provider, not as a Railroad-provided service. We believe that having WiFi service available to our customers would be beneficial and that we should facilitate that result if a private company is prepared to make the required investment in a manner that we determine to be appropriate."

The MTA RFPs have been extended several times.

For more:
- see this RCR Wireless article

Related articles:
Cablevision plots ultimate mobile broadband: Wi-Fi on trains
Cablevision developing WiFi/cellular phone
Cablevision wants to spread WiFi into New York trains

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