Dear PoP – Metro wireless service by Oct 16th? Friday Question of the Day – Are You Looking Forward to Cell Service on the Metro?

photo 3, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

“Dear PoP,

I’ve seen workers installing the wires and transmitters for the new wireless services in the Columbia Heights and a few other stations the last month, but wondering if anyone has details on whether WMATA is still on target to get the 20 Metro stations in the press release below connected by Oct 16th as promised?

The reader sent in the photo above from the Crystal City Station. I was going to ask readers if they’ve noticed service in any stations yet, but being that the DC blogosphere can be very small world at times – DCist explored the same issue earlier on Thurs. They said they were able to get service at L’Enfant Plaza. Anyone else getting service at stations already?

I’ll be honest – I’m of the old school that sorta prefers the minimal times when I’m not connected. God help us when folks can use their cells on airplanes…

So what about you – do you even want cell phone service within the metro? I can appreciate being able to check email and the web but I’m kinda dreading dozens of phone conversations. Am I just being ornery or is cell service at metro stations and inevitably on the trains themselves a good thing?

27 Comment

  • I don’t need no stinkin cell service on the metro. Text messaging, ok but on the bus I am subject to no end of inane conversations as well as TMI – heard a teenage girl the friend of her ex boyfriend that she was pregnant. Then heard the conversation when the ex BF called the girl to say what ?? – heated conversation ensued. Folks on the bus we were all looking at each other and I could see the thought bubbles blinking TMI TMI

  • I am not really excited about the possibility of being forced to eavesdrop on one side of others’ private conversations. It is not as easy for passengers to to turn off their hearing and I can not imagine many conversations that can not wait, unless who is going to pick up milk on the way home.

  • I would prefer data only

  • I do fake twittering all the time just to ignore people on the metro. This will only increase the need.

  • I’m definitely not excited about sitting next to some jabberbox, but I do look forward to having the web and streaming audio. The iPhone NPR app is quality and a welcome morning distraction compared to paging thru the Express.

  • I had a Verizon phone and then got an iphone, so I’ve had service before. I rarely used the phone because I don’t hear too well and really couldn’t hear my conversation over the sound of the train. I do miss is for data.

    My biggest reason for looking forward to service in the stations is when I inevitably (as it is Metro) have to call people to tell them I’ll be late. I usually only ride the trains on the weekends or later in the evenings and now when I see my train is 20 minutes away, or the red line simply bursts into flames, I’ll be able to call or text to let people know I’ll be a little late.

  • I am not a huge fan of this. My time on the train serves as auxiliary sleep time. The last thing I want is not being able to sleep because the person next to me is yammering away about the wacky hijinks on last night’s Real World/Road Rules Challenge.

  • I’m happy to have it in case I witness a crime or something suspicious. I’ve heard horror stories about the intercoms not working

  • add me to the list of people who would have been just fine without it. And not to sound too much like a fear mongering republican. But given terrorist love to bomb subways. And their main method of bomb detonation is cell phone calls. Definately adding a chink in our security. But I ride the bus mostly these days anyway. Next Bus aps make riding the bus way more user freindly.

  • Of course this is/was inevitable and it is depressing. As one of the, what seems to me, last people on this planet without a cellphone, I find the damn things so incredibly annoying, intrusive and down right obnoxious. I have to listen to jerks “playing” their phones like boomboxes, or some inane game or just a one way conversation that seems to be about nothing. I will never understand the appeal of the things. Whats wrong with being unconnected for at least the length of a train ride? Yes, I know, I know, “What about an emergency, a terrorist attack, etc.?” Listen, if you are in the Metro and the train car you are in catches fire in a tunnel, you are dead. If it is disabled, get out of the train and walk the tunnel. If you sit there trying to call for help and wait for that help to arrive…you are dead.
    Unless that phone is some sort of Green Lantern power ring, I don’t see how its gonna safe you.

    Now a Green Lantern Power Ring….THAT I can live with!

  • Yeah! Now I can live-blog/tweet about my escape [or slow painful death] in the next mass casualty incident. I don’t ride metro anymore.

  • I can’t disagree with the sentiment here – not looking forward to the increased service. That said, I thought I read that this would only be available at station platforms (i.e. there may not be connections once trains go in tunnels). Does anyone know if that’s true? If that were the case, then I wouldn’t mind nearly as much.

  • It will be nice to be able to let my boss know I’m stuck on the train and running late so that when I finally get to the office I don’t have to deal with the inevitable in-box full of messages asking where I am.

    It will not be nice to have to listen to people’s annoying personal converasations. It’s already bad enough having to listen to Verizon customers, I don’t even want to imagine what it will be like when everyone has service.

    I don’t get how people, who are otherwise considerate in all other aspects of life, don’t understand how inconsiderate it is to yak yak yak on their phones in public!

  • I think cell phone service on the Metro is a good idea. Why this wasn’t done at least 10 years ago, I don’t know.

    Sure, there will be people having loud conversations, but how can it really be any worse than hearing every lyric of someone’s loud rap music now?

  • cell service is great. what a pain it has been the last several years trying to take an important call on the train. ugh. This will be way better. These arent silent trains folks… people talk etc. all the time. put in your headphones if you cant handle it. i’m personally more annoyed by the dude shouting into his phone “can you hear me” over and over.

  • I personally appreciate the young kids listening to wrap over the very low quality speakers on phones. It sounds great and its very classy.

    On the serious end it will be nice getting blackberry service back. My wonderful agency recently switched service providers from one that does provide service to one that doesn’t. Though it is odd that many folks seem to wait until the hours from 5 to 7 pm to send the most important emails of the day.

  • Text and Web.

    No Voice.

  • Apparently the initial roll-out is only in the busiest stations, followed by all other stations, and then finally the tunnels. I think it’s going to be something like three years or so before it’s all done.

  • In stations only? As slow at the AT&T network is, its not going to do much good for black berries unless you are waiting or changing trains.

  • Hell yes I’m looking forward to it! The Verizon monopoly just excluded some from wireless access. This is much more democratic. The etiquette doesn’t change — just more people need to follow it. Why should Metro be a cell phone free sanctuary as opposed to virtually every other public space?

    It sucks being stuck in a station or train when you’re meeting people and you can’t communicate with them. Or notifying employers/coworkers if you’re delayed. This is long overdue.

  • hahaha, the guy who doesnt own a cell phone opposes it. shocker.

  • Sprint gives me free roaming, so I’ve been using the Verizon network on Metro for years. It’s really only good for data, though, because of the train noise and reception issues mentioned above. Voice communication is just not reliable.

    Interestingly, I haven’t been able to connect a call for the last few weeks. Even when stationary at a platform, my phone shows 5 bars, but just spins and spins without actually connecting to the network. I think Verizon has done something to prevent roamers in advance of the upcoming roll-out.

  • I like it for blackberry access (although I get way motion sick, so can only look at the screen when stopped at a station). It was great on Tuesday though when I was late for a meeting because we sat in a tunnel for over half an hour while they cleared smoke from the Metro Center stop. The girl behind me was the presenter for a meeting and was going to be late and so cell service worked for her too.

    The TMI conversations happen just as frequently between two people sitting on a train and talking way too loudly as it does with people on phones. I guess that’s what happens when everyone posts their every move online anyway…

  • I really don’t care much, but I’m always fascinated that people are endlessly annoyed by folks having cell phone conversations nearby but seem to be okay if two people next to them are conversing at the same volume.

    What difference does it make, other than that you can eavesdrop on both sides of the conversation? If I had as much trouble tuning that stuff out as some people seem to, I can’t imagine being able to tolerate living in the city.

  • Yeah, I’m not really supportive of it. Actually I really don’t like people yaking loud on the Metro period! I think the issue come down to the fact that no body likes to be a captive audience of someone else’s conversation.

    On the street at least you can move away, but in tight areas you really are stuck.

    it also seems disrespectful in an odd way – like if you’re close enough to someone that they can really hear everything you’re saying, but you’re 100% ignoring them, it seems inconsiderate. I wonder if this is something hardwired since we’re social beings?

  • Neil wrote:
    “’m always fascinated that people are endlessly annoyed by folks having cell phone conversations nearby but seem to be okay if two people next to them are conversing at the same volume.”

    Maybe it’s because there’s no one there and since it’s you and them, there is some primal expectation that you and the other person will recognize eachother – even if you’re ignoring eachother. But talking into the air to invisible people might bother us as we expect to be the subject of any conversation…

    Just some thoughts about our primal, animal selves!

  • I am 100% for additional cell phone service because the when the current Verizon network was installed, it was called Bell Atlantic Mobile. remember those days? I think it’s time for an upgrade and multiple carriers.

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