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On New York Subway Platforms, Riders Find A SOLiD Cellular Connection

The 161st Street MTA station in the Bronx

This past June, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York, Transit Wireless and three New York City public libraries unveiled a free e-book program for subway riders. The initiative is a celebration of the cellular network and public WiFi system now available in all of NYC’s 278 underground subway stations. Transit Wireless, the company that has a 27-year contract with the MTA and New York City Transit Authority to own, operate and maintain the network, has led the way in transforming New York City into a fully connected city by bringing customer connectivity underground.

To accommodate the cellular service needs of over 5.5 million daily riders, Transit Wireless needed to lay 120 miles of fiber cable and construct head end facilities to house the network equipment. It also required a robust distributed antenna system on the platforms to deliver signals in the stations.

To outfit the subway stops, Transit Wireless turned to SOLiD to provide reliable DAS equipment throughout the system.

SOLiD, a South Korea-based company, is a leader in densifying wireless networks, providing multiband public cellular and public safety networks. The company already had experience providing platform and tunnel connectivity in the Seoul metropolitan system, which has the longest subway track in the world, and in the Boston MBTA, the nation's oldest subway.

Transit Wireless began outfitting stations with WiFi and cellular access in April 2013 with Phase 1 providing coverage to 30 Midtown Manhattan underground stations. By Phase 3 in March 2015, 100 stations were equipped with the service and SOLiD’s equipment.

The 161st Street MTA station in the Bronx

Phase 4 added service to 20 locations in the Bronx and 17 in Upper Manhattan, including major hubs like 53rd Street and Lexington Avenue, 59th Street and Lexington Avenue, 149th Street - Grand Concourse and 125th Street.

The final three phases were accelerated and the system was complete at the end of 2016, two years ahead of schedule and under budget.

Mounted on platform ceilings, the remote radio units supplied by SOLiD can withstand subway vibrations, brake dust from trains, widely varying temperatures and moisture from power-washing. The company’s DAS solutions are rugged enough to handle the harsh conditions of the city’s subway system.

SOLiD’s DAS solutions are also able to handle extreme capacity needs.

Hundreds of riders use the wireless network simultaneously on a subway platform, and Transit Wireless CEO Bill Bayne expects 800 terabytes of usage by the end of 2017. Thanks to SOLiD's DAS equipment, riders stay connected even at peak demand times such as morning and evening rush hour. As MTA ridership grows, SOLiD solutions can be quickly and affordably scaled to support more wireless operators and frequencies thanks to a modular design and an efficient use of fiber optic cables.

While the nation's largest mobile carriers, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless, have already partnered with the MTA and Transit Wireless to deliver service, SOLiD’s system allows for continued carrier and service expansion.

Beyond checking email or streaming a video, consumer wireless service is essential to public safety. Thanks to Transit Wireless’ network design and implementation, riders can call 911 on their mobile phones while underground, and emergency workers have their own dedicated frequencies for communication.

The MTA also launched the SubwayTime app that taps into the wireless train arrival system. Many of the subway lines joining the system are benefiting from Transit Wireless’ systemwide network enhancement plan.

SOLiD's DAS provides infrastructure that strengthens the signal strength of cell carriers, especially as cellular usage moves indoors.

Having mastered large-scale solutions for major venues like the MTA system, stadiums and college campuses, SOLiD is taking the experience gained from providing infrastructure for these high-capacity networks to office buildings with its “Middleprise” solution. The power and flexibility of SOLiD DAS can be deployed inside buildings suffering from poor cell tower reception.

For cellphone users, the dream of having continuous coverage from subway to skyscraper is closer than ever.

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