New tech met old school on February 26 at the New York Transit Museum where Transit Wireless presented an overview of the design and installation of wireless connectivity in New York City’s underground stations at an event “New Year, New Initiatives: Up Close With the MTA.”

Amidst a setting of vintage subway cars, reclaimed transit signs and turnstiles, Senior Design Manager Tobias Mugge and Senior Design Engineer Nupur Sutaria explained that Transit Wireless is building one of the most expansive Distributed Area System (DAS) networks in the world to enable commercial cellular service for the public on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless.  They explained that the company is also layering in a free Wi-Fi network in these underground stations and providing connectivity for a 4.9 GHz public safety communications system and Help Point intercoms.

They Transit Wireless engineers explained that the layered DAS/Wi-Fi architecture is comprised of three distinct elements:

  • A base station hotel that encompasses radio heads, base stations, servers and internet gateways, switches and routers, back-up power supplies and HVAC;
  • A citywide fiber trunk network that connects the base station hotels to the subway stations, or outside plant (OSP);
  • The station network or inside plant build (ISP), which includes remote fiber units, Wi-Fi access points, uninterrupted power supplies, antennas and more.

To date, 147 of 278 underground subway stations have been activated and Transit Wireless has installed some 70 miles of fiber network – with more to come.  The project has inherent challenges, such as the around-the-clock operation of the New York City subway system which means that installation must occur when trains and riders are moving through the stations.  The equipment must be incredibly durable to withstand harsh conditions related to temperature, moisture and steel dust – as well as graffiti and vandals.

Joining the Transit Wireless at the Transit Museum event, were representatives of Boyce Technologies, which manufacturers the Help Point intercom and Civic Smartscapes, the company that creates the On the Go interactive digital touchscreen information screens.

For more information about the New York Transit Museum visit: http://web.mta.info/museum/.