It’s been over a year since both seamless cellular and the public access Transit Wireless WiFi™ network was completed in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) underground system—and these services have proven themselves a success. Conceptualized by the MTA to develop a shared wireless infrastructure within its underground stations and put into action with an exclusive 27-year contract between Transit Wireless (a BAI Communications majority-owned company) and the MTA, the venture is an archetype of a Public-Private Partnership (P3). In a P3, (including Transit Wireless’), a private entity designs, finances, builds, and/or manages a project in exchange for receiving operating profits after its completion. The network provides cellular coverage from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon, Wi-Fi and a 4.9 GHz band for public safety and services in all 282 underground stations; making it unprecedented in scale and coverage compared to other connectivity services in transit systems around the world. The success of this project led to the growth of our relationships with both the MTA and our carrier customers.
Having a P3 contract that spans over a quarter-century ensures Transit Wireless and the services we provide continue to meet the needs of New York City Transit for decades to come. Meeting the terms of a business contract this long, we are constantly redeveloping our designs and technology offerings to provide additional, and better services to meet the expectations of the public, the MTA and the wireless carriers. In the first year New Yorkers used the network for more than 280 million cellular calls and 120 million Wi-Fi logins— the network has to be able to scale service for exponential usage in the years ahead!
The first step in a good P3 is the initial delivery. Transit Wireless specializes in designing and building neutral host and multi-band Distributed Antenna System (DAS) networks. These networks enable the cellular connectivity of our wireless carriers in areas that otherwise have insufficient coverage and our building expertise allows us to optimize the design and installation of these networks to simplify ongoing operations for the wireless carriers as well. The shared network also lowers the upfront investment needed and reduces operating costs for the carriers, opposed to each building and maintaining its own separate system. The network was designed around keeping the business needs of our partners in mind (lower upfront building costs, easier maintenance of their systems), while also making service and connectivity for the customer the priority. Riders who use their cellular data plans experience seamless connectivity through their providers, while customers who choose to log-on to Transit Wireless WiFi™, enjoy free hour-long sessions in the stations, compliments of our digital advertisers.
Relationships with customers are key to success, and good relationships come with good service. In order to make sure that the MTA, our wireless carriers and consumers all receive the best service possible, many steps were taken to ensure the sustainability and adaptability of our network, the quality of the service and the potential for growth. One such step was the building of the Base Station Hotels, which houses the Internet gateways, servers, switches, routers, radio heads, and power supplies. Through these Base Station Hotels, the wireless carriers have single-point access to their servers for repairs and upkeep. The Base Station Hotels cut the labor costs and time for both the carriers and the MTA in sending a carrier underground for repairs. The easy access to the network through Base Station Hotels ensures that if there is an issue with the carrier’s service, it can quickly be resolved and the customers unaffected. From a business development perspective, the power of our P3 comes from the relationships Transit Wireless built, in part through the costs-savings we deliver for our carriers and the MTA.
Our innovations deliver new opportunities for our partners, that in turn allow our partners to deliver enhanced services to their customers. Our infrastructure is readily scalable to meet growing demands on a network and future technologies such as 5G. The WiCom network in the MTA underground has the capability to advance right along with the newest technological developments. Our P3 contract with the MTA gives us the freedom to sync our business needs, including creating a future-proofed network that can easily adapt to changing technologies. For example, the new countdown clocks on all letter-lines run via Bluetooth beacons over our Wi-Fi network to the MTA’s rail control center, and onto the screens in the stations. Transit Wireless’ abilities to deliver on our P3 contract has given us a strong reputation locally and nationally, adding to the success of the network. Our partners know they can rely on Transit Wireless to deliver a network that meets all their requirements and is responsive to their needs, while progressing at a pace that meets our scheduled objectives. Our track record for meeting and exceeding expectations will continue, as we make sure our partners and customers needs are not only being met, but anticipated.