Why don’t we have internet access in the subway yet?

iPad in NYC Subway stationWhy don’t we have internet access in the subway yet?

Wait! Before you answer that question, New York City, let me cover myself in case that actually exists by asking, “do we have internet access in the subway?” Because I find it so unbelievable that New York City hasn’t put internet access in the subway, that I have convinced myself that it exist and I just don’t know about it.

After all, we are in the freaking 21st century! It’s damn near 2011 and I don’t even have the capacity to check my email during one of my trips from Harlem to Brooklyn on the 2-3 train? For God’s sake, do you know the amount of information that goes through my 27 different email accounts during that time?

I truly don’t understand this. Especially since one would think that selling internet access in the subway would be as lucrative as all hell.

Seriously, even if you only spend 25 minutes a day riding the subway, how much do you think you’re willing to pay to make sure you can send out that funny tweet, receive that crazy email or finish sending that random naked picture through MMS?

As it has been well-documented on this blog, I’m the biggest cheapskate there is, and I would pay for it. I wouldn’t pay a whole lot, but $4.99/month is the most the MTA could ever get away with charging for that mess, and I know I would pay that much to carry on a phone-call from Skype on my iPhone just to stick it to the folks at AT&T!

Engineers, feel free to speak up, but I don’t see how this isn’t technologically possible. You put a couple of wireless routers in the subway cars, tunnels and those deep staircases/stairwells too, and in the words of John Madden, “BOOM,” you have internet!

I wonder what the issue is. Is it an infrastructure (i.e. MONEY) thing? Like I said before, this game plan of mine should make money for the cash-grubbing, money-flushing operation that is the MTA. Perhaps I’m oversold on just how many people would buy subway internet access, especially since richer people are less likely to ride the subway for extended periods of time.

But I’ll be damned if I don’t see more than my fair share of iPad users standing on the subway platform. And if they find enough time to pull out that overprized tablet PC and start watching movies and playing battleship, then they surely wouldn’t mind forking up a couple of bucks per month to keep that Wi-Fi access going while they are underground. Hell, you’d think AT&T would be all over providing this service in partnership with the MTA…then again; maybe I just gave them an idea.

Going back to my original point, I don’t think you all realize how crazy it is that we don’t have internet access on the subway. Literally, millions of people spend over an hour under the ground, each and every day in New York City, and they can’t access THE NET! We are probably the only city in the industrialized world where millions of people voluntarily forfeit being wired for that many hours a week. Don’t get me wrong, I know we keep ourselves busy with digital music, Brickbreaker, solitaire, the New York Times app and boy do I love my Dan LeBatard Show podcast. But I really hate it when I want to download the latest podcast episode, NYTimes article or a song that just came to mind and I couldn’t do it. And there’s no reason I shouldn’t be. Nobody in Austin, TX is deprived of that ability at anytime during their average workday—why am I?

Marketers! What are you all doing? Think of all the beautiful, engaging ads you all could be running right now if internet was available on the subway. You could do live promotions in subway cars at certain points in the city. You could tell me to text you a message from seat on the 4 train. I could check in on Foursquare at each subway stop on my way home and earn some type of “tunnel rat” badge that’s good for a free mouse exterminator consultation. Whatever it may be, the opportunity is there, and being underground without internet is failing us.

But back to my insecurities.

Is there internet access available on the subways in New York City? Is it just me that’s missing out? Are only rich people provided with this service as a means to get them to pay for the monthly metro card?

Seriously, I see some people on their phones and they look as if they are typing 8-page memorandums. In my introspective mind, I think I’m listening to a week old podcast because I forgot to sync my iPhone, while they are over there having an engaging conversation as they tweet or sext their way all the way back home.

Unfortunately, as someone who has demonstrated a diminutive amount of knowledge when it comes to the digital space, I don’t think that’s the case. There is no internet on the subway, and those fools typing away are probably writing up an email that they won’t send until 11 stops later on the D train. It’s a shame that in the media capitol of the world, anyone not rich enough to avoid the subway has to let go of live media for what probably amounts to an average of an hour a day. They say this is the city that never sleeps, but if you walk onto a subway with a mini-netbook hoping to reply to a day’s worth of emails, you’re better off putting your computer to sleep until the subway reaches your stop.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *