If you live in New York City, the fastest and best way to get around is often the city’s subway system. Unfortunately, the minute you go underground to catch a train, you lose one thing that we’ve all become quite dependent on: Internet access. NYC officials have long promised Internet or cell phone access in the tunnels, but so far, New Yorkers are still forced to download all the songs and books they can before heading into the tunneled underbelly of the city. Today, Boingo sends a message of hope.
Boingo today announced that it has reached an agreement with the New York City Transit Authority that will bring Wi-Fi access to NYC’s subway stations over the next five years. This means that all of your smartphones, e-readers, tablets, and other gadgets may finally have Net access in stations throughout the many boroughs of NYC: Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens. Excited? I am.
“Our alliance with Transit Wireless is another milestone for Boingo in our ongoing effort to expand our managed and operated footprint and provide added value to our customers – especially those in New York City,” said Colby Goff, senior vice president of strategy and business development for Boingo Wireless. “We look forward to providing New Yorkers, our customers and our roaming partners with the reliable connectivity they crave, whether at street level or on the subway platform.”
Of course, there’s a hitch. Nowhere in the press release is the word “free.” Wi-Fi will be made available, but it’s probably going to cost you. Boingo Unlimited Wi-Fi plans start at $8 per month and access appears to be limited to times you are at a station. You still won’t have access while your train is barreling from mid-town to Brooklyn, unless it happens to stop at a supported station. If it works, great, but for that price, we certainly hope the connection speeds will hold up, especially considering Boingo’s own admission that 1.7 billion people travel NYC’s subway tubes each year.
If you happen to have a subscription to Skype, Spring, T-Mobile, or Verizon, however, you may be in luck. These networks can access Boingo’s Wi-Fi hotspots without an extra charge to you. We think, at least.
Update: We reached out to a Boingo representative, who didn’t have any real answers yet.
“The overall consumer offering for the NYC subway system is still in development and will be designed to offer maximum appeal and accessibility for potential users,” said the rep. “As stated in the release, Boingo subscribers and Boingo roaming partner customers will have one-click access to the networks, as the subway station networks will become part of Boingo’s aggregated network of more than 500,000 hotspots worldwide. Additional details on current Boingo Wi-Fi plans can be found here: http://www.boingo.com/