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Wireless Networking Hardware

BART Outfitted With Wireless 208

Posted by Zonk
from the not-simpson dept.
wyldeone writes "The San Fransico Chronicle reports that the BART subway system has been completely outfitted with cells to allow cellphone usage everywhere on the line. The network has been paid for entirely by Nextel, who leased out the lines to the other carriers." From the article: "Rae said BART and the wireless companies know some riders will try to make calls over the din as BART roars and screeches through tunnels. But most of the business, he said, will be from people using wireless devices to read and send e-mail or browse the Internet. 'You could use your Blackberry to take care of all your e-mail on your way to work,' he said. 'But the trains are really too noisy (underground) to have an intelligent conversation.'"
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BART Outfitted With Wireless

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  • Hmm.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Senes (928228) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @10:50PM (#14073362)
    I thought Lisa would have been the tech buff.
  • Not yet it hasn't (Score:5, Informative)

    by Fletch (6903) * <`fletch' `at' `pobox.com'> on Saturday November 19, 2005 @10:53PM (#14073374) Homepage
    ...the BART subway system has been completely outfitted with cells to allow cellphone usage everywhere on the line.
    Currently only 4 underground stations are wired [sfgate.com]. The same is planned for the other 10.
  • by Jerry Coffin (824726) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @10:56PM (#14073381)
    the trains are really too noisy (underground) to have an intelligent conversation.

    What percentage of cell phone conversations are intelligent in any case?

    --
    The universe is a figment of its own imagination.

  • by Pyromage (19360) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @11:00PM (#14073401) Homepage
    'But the trains are really too noisy (underground) to have an intelligent conversation.'

    Uhh.... what makes him think that most of the people talking on cell phones are having an intelligent conversation?
    • 'But the trains are really too noisy (underground) to have an intelligent conversation.'

      Uhh.... what makes him think that most of the people talking on cell phones are having an intelligent conversation?


      The submitter obviously meant an intelligible [reference.com] conversation. Or that is what he would have meant had he been more intelligent [reference.com].
  • by thesaint05 (850634)
    It's nice that Nextel leases out their lines to other carriers. Verizon is the only carrier to have built towers for the underground portions of the Washington D.C. Metro system, and they don't share at all with anyone.
    • Maybe Verizon doesn't need to share, and Nextel does?

      That is, maybe Verizon's share of the underground travellers' cell phone business is high enough that they can make back their investment from revenue from same, while Nextel has to lease the access out to make money, because their own subscribers aren't numerous enough underground to make good use of the bandwidth.

      In short, I kinda 'spect both companies made the decision on cold-blooded business grounds, and not because either has a soft spot in their he
      • It's possible, but it is hard to imagine Nextel having significantly fewer subscribers. I'd be more comfortable with that claim if I could find information on how many subscribers each company had, I thought Nextel had more than Verizon, now, I am pretty certain now they merged with Sprint.
        • If you visit the companies websites, you can easily get subscriber data from the investor reports.

          Verizon is the industry leader, with 49.3 million subscribers.

          Nextel used to be number five or so, with 16.2 million subscribers, but they just merged this fall with number three Sprint, and the combined company (known as Sprint) now has 45.6 million subscribers.
      • Re:market share? (Score:3, Informative)

        by DDLKermit007 (911046)
        Well actually it's because Verizon is CDMA and almost everyone else is GSM. I bet they would have loved to have been able to lease out bandwith to others, but the tech just does not mix.
        • They can still lease out tower space; Sprint and ATTWS actually have (had?) and agreemen to codevelop towers to reduce capital expenditures.

          And, FWIW, VZW is CDMA, Sprint is CDMA (but a variation that doesn't allow for interoperation with VZW), Nextel is iDEN, and Cingular and T-Mobile are GSM.

          I bet the reason why VZW doesn't lease out tower space is either greed or the fact that they're a phenomenally stupid organizatoin in a lot of ways (like, for example, they assign public IP addresses to phones that ar
          • and good old AT&T still chugging along with TDMA
          • I bet the reason why VZW doesn't lease out tower space is either greed or the fact that they're a phenomenally stupid organizatoin in a lot of ways (like, for example, they assign public IP addresses to phones that are using the wireless internet.

            As does Sprint. This is a good thing, as every so often, some people actually need to run servers (think tied devices, or IDENTD, etc. ). Sure, people can eat your bandwidth, but why would they? There's a lot of IP space out there, so why target you?
            • Yeah, that's great. Now for us people that need to run large numbers of devices on networks that we want protected (like automated utility meter reading, home security monitoring, hell, even vending machine stock checking), publically accessable networks are a gigantic, risky pain in the balls.

              As it happens, people actually want to use the cellular networks for business. You wouldn't put every desktop, network printer, and server in your company in public IP space, would you? The occasional server that n
  • by AltGrendel (175092) <ag-slashdot@[ ]t0.us ['exi' in gap]> on Saturday November 19, 2005 @11:01PM (#14073410) Homepage
    But the trains are really too noisy (underground) to have an intelligent conversation.
    Most of the conversations probably won't be intelligent, but you know plenty idiots will try anyway.
  • Delcan NET is now tracking traffic through the tunnels...
  • by kaan (88626) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @11:09PM (#14073433)
    After rtfa, I've concluded that this submission is grossly mis-titled.

    Yeah, it's nice that you'll be able to use a blackberry or mobile phone to make calls, etc., while riding a BART train, but who calls that "wireless"?

    The term "wireless" is usually related to 802.11, wifi, or "wireless networking", not the ability to make cell phone calls. But I guess that's incorrect, and we can now state that most of the planet is already "outfitted with wireless".
    • > ...we can now state that most of the planet is already "outfitted
      > with wireless".

      Since "wireless" means "radio" and has for a hundred years, yes, we can.
    • Frankly, I don't see the problem. The cell network is wireless despite you never having heard of it called that. I've seen several corporate promotions referring to the cell network as wireless. Yeah, it's annoying when I am more involved with computer networking than cell phones, but that doesn't make it any less true.
    • I disagree. Modern cell coverage is wireless coverage, just expensive wireless coverage. My Blackberry data services are about twice as fast as dialup, and that's over GPRS. It's highly latent, but it is for the most part as fast as dual channel ISDN which supplied via 802.11 is generally referred to as wireless. The article makes no mention of the switching tech used, but it's very likely they are rolling out EDGE, which offers very realistic high speed rates (384 kbit/s). Sprint (Nextel's owner) is a
    • The title field in the submission form is limited to a very small number of characters. I couldn't think of a way to phrase it to make it more clear that this is cell service.
    • "The term "wireless" is usually related to 802.11, wifi, or "wireless networking", not the ability to make cell phone calls. But I guess that's incorrect, and we can now state that most of the planet is already "outfitted with wireless".

      Wireless was used to describe cell phones long before 802.11. If Slashdot had written the article for slashdotters to read, then I probably wouldn't have bothered replying.
    • The term wireless has been used for cellular & PCS systems since the first forms of mobile phones appeared in the late 1940s. The term wireless was used for early telegraph systems back in the late 1800s. Anything that employs a radio can justifiably call itself "wireless". In case you did not know, a mobile phone is simply a fancy radio. The term "wireless" is not particular to WiFi, although WiFi also uses that term (WiFi is just a radio, too). If anything, it might be more appropriate to say tha
  • It's really too bad people have stopped thinking about the words they use and instead choose to parrot phrases they've misheard elsewhere. Oh well. I guess that's why they're working for the subway system.
  • Spellcheck! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by saj_s (667330) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @11:15PM (#14073459)
    > "The network has been payed for entirely by Nextel"

    I'm pretty sure you meant "paid for"
  • I love seeing stories like this, anything that increases the reach of our communications networks frees knowledge and information that much more.
    Although I am always aware of the privacy concerns raised by new infrastructures I am somewhat of the mind that if you aren't doing anything wrong or anything that you are ashamed of there is no reason to fear others knowing about it. Perhaps one day the world will be open-minded enough not to pass negative judgment on those things that people do during their priv
  • Sound buffering... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by creimer (824291) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @11:20PM (#14073472) Homepage
    Wouldn't it be a better technology upgrade to reduce the noise on BART while traveling underground so people can talk to each other? Of course, you would have to ban cell phones since it's so damn annoying as some people don't care if everyone knows about their sex life play-by-play.
    • Wouldn't it be a better technology upgrade to reduce the noise on BART while traveling underground so people can talk to each other?

      Easier said than done. FWIW, BART spends a lot of money of noise & vibration mitigation - in fact, some of the excessive noise in tunnel sections may be caused by the ground-borne vibration mitigation measures (floating slab track) that is used in several locations on the BART system.

  • too loud? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenis.gmail@com> on Saturday November 19, 2005 @11:22PM (#14073480) Homepage
    When I was in Paris [last november] I was making calls in the subway without excessive noise or trouble.

    I'm glad they're getting wireless though. So I'm not complaining, just comparing :-)

    Tom
    • I've never been to Paris, but I've ridden the ICE trains across Austria & Germany. They were pretty quiet and smooth.

      In comparison to those trains, BART can be extremely loud (I'm a daily BART commuter)-- sometimes I need to hold my hands over my ears to block the noise. A BART engineer explained some of the noise to me-- some of the screetching is a result of slightly wobbly tracks, which are a result of laying tracks in a seismically-active region. In comparison, the ground in Germany is mostly stable
      • BART is loud because it is a wide gauge with light vehicles and designed by a bunch of incompetent boobs who had never worked on railroads before. Halfway through the project they had to hire _real_ railroad engineering firms to come save their bacon, but unfortunately the non-standard gauge and custom cars were already locked into the design.

        Anyway the German ICE is a mainline railroad and BART is regional, so it's a poor comparison. The New York subway (MTA), the Paris Metro, London's Underground, and t
  • BART Outfitted With Wireless

    Like this? [bartfan.com]

  • Welcome to the 21st century!

    We switched cell carriers because of it!
    • We switched cell carriers because of it!

      As another poster pointed out, that's one of the differences here - unlike VZW in DC, Nextel will be letting other cell carriers use it too, so you won't have to switch carriers.
  • But the trains are really too noisy (underground) to have an intelligent conversation.

    Maybe that will make noise cancelling headsets [thetravelinsider.info] more popular
  • by Reality Master 201 (578873) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @11:52PM (#14073564) Journal
    two things:
    1. Actual geeks will find the title misleading. It's not wireless, it's cellular. There's a difference that your audience is going to make; wireless means 802.11, not cellular. I used to work for a company that specialized cellular data applications, and I immediately though wi-fi
    2. Nextel HASN'T leased anything to anyone. From TFA: Nextel serves as the coordinator, planning, paying for and overseeing the work. Other carriers have the right to buy in and to strike agreements to reimburse Nextel and pay annual fees to BART. There's a big difference therebecause: at present, the only carrier is Nextel, and there's no mention that they've done any integration with another carrier yet. (Presumably it'll just be a tower sharing kind of arrangement).

    As an aside, I wonder what kind of restrictions were placed in the contract in terms of sharing with other carriers. From what I hear, VZW has the cell towers in the DC metro, and doesn't allow other carriers to use them (maybe selfishness; maybe gross institutional incompetence on VZW's part - it's hard to tell with them). If it's a public place like a subway, the people who build the network should be required to lease out to other people; it's in the public interest that everyone get to play, not just the people with service from the carrier that gets the contract. Of course, if we'd just used a single wireless standard like in Europe, then the point would be moot.

    • Nextel HASN'T leased anything to anyone. From TFA: Nextel serves as the coordinator, planning, paying for and overseeing the work. Other carriers have the right to buy in and to strike agreements to reimburse Nextel and pay annual fees to BART. There's a big difference therebecause: at present, the only carrier is Nextel, and there's no mention that they've done any integration with another carrier yet. (Presumably it'll just be a tower sharing kind of arrangement).

      Yes they have. You just have to read f

    • wireless means 802.11

      Since when? Wireless can be used to refer to any wire-free technology. "Wireless Phone". "Wireless Broadband". "Wireless Speakers". "Wireless Mouse".

  • Having an intelligent conversation is hard enough while NOT on a noisy train. Imagine trying to have a conversation that is both intelligent AND intelligible while on the thing!
  • I have a daily commute on BART. I can say, without a doubt, the tunnel between Orinda and Rockridge is my most savored moment of the ride. I seriously hate people yammering on their phone about crap. I swear, I had some girl start getting into some dirty talk on the phone a few weeks back. I really need to remember to charge the iPod so I don't have to hear these people.
  • I guess the OP meant cellular mobile not Wireless, right?

  • I used to live in the SF area and commute on BART. I always dreaded the moments when the train would come out of the tunnel because half of the passengers would whip our their cell phones and start desperately dialing. "Hey, it's me ... I'm at West Oakland ... be home in 20 miniutes ... OK, bye!" Then, 10 MINUTES LATER, we'd come out of the tunnel again and they'd do the SAME DAMN THING. "Hey, it's me ... I'm at Macarthur ... be home in 10 minutes ... OK, bye!" I hated them all so much. So glad not to h
  • ...the CTA [transitchicago.com] is thinking about doing it. Frankly, I hope they don't, but they will if only because they can earn money by making the cell carriers pay to provide cell service underground.

    Only about 20% of Chicago's transit system is underground, so it's not a big deal. I just happen to enjoy the sounds of the rails and nothing else.

  • First, BART is a Rapid Transit system, not a subway system. Second, the wireless system is not operational yet as of yesterday!!! Third, I want WiFi! Unlike older commuter systems (NYC MTA or CTA) many commuters (like myself) use laptops or would use laptops and would benefit from having WiFi!
  • by matts.nu (94472)
    It's not "San Fransico". The name of the city is spelled "San Francisco."

    They spell the city like the router company, which makes the spelling easy to remember.
  • On that note, is it possible currently to link a bunch of AP together and so as you jump from one AP to another as you move around, it doesn't actually disconnect and seemlessly goes through?
  • Seoul's subway system has complete cell coverage in all train tunnels, stations, pedestrian transfer tunnels etc. You can literally get on at steet level and exit anywhere else in the city at street level and maintain a call.

    Since satellite-to-phone broadcast TV (DMB [wikipedia.com]) launched last year they've added underground repeaters for that too. When WiBro [wikipedia.com] launches here next year, I expect we'll be able to use wireless broadband internet system-wide too.
  • It's a bit unclear to me whether this type of wireless service is meant for cell phones or WLAN (802.11x) devices?


  • Until about a month ago, I rode BART each day as part of my daily commute. I agree with Chronicle -- the underground trains are far too noisy to hold an intelligent phone conversation for any length of time. When I commuted on BART, I spent my 45 minutes reading and writing emails. 802.11 connectivity might have been useful then, but cell phone calls would have been utterly pointless.

    As I see it, San Francisco's mayor, Gavin Newsom, loves to talk about how he's going to 'unwire' the city with 802.11 h

  • Just to make absolutely sure people don't try making calls, maybe they should just block all voice service. Checking email is ok, telling other people you're on the train is not.
  • I have been using GSM mobilephones in the subways since 1998, I don't see what's so new about this there is 500km of rails in stockholm and it is all covered. And since 2003 they have been woking on WLAN coverage in the subway system, but I don't think it will ever be public, rather it's going to be just for ticket control. They might have canned the idea since it really has some complications, for the ticket controllers.

    This is posted on a 32KB/s connection underground (3G has only worked for 6 months or s
  • Ummmm, wha'? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NeuroManson (214835) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @10:49AM (#14075310) Homepage
    I haven't been in the Bay Area since about 1992, but as far as I can recall, the BART was incredibly quiet, I suppose, in comparison to the NY subway system. It took a little research, but back when the system was new, the interior noise level was 60 db. Later, changes were made to reduce the noise levels to 40-45 db (better sound insulation, rubberized wheels on the cars, etc). It doesn't seem any more noisy than talking on a phone on a busy city street.

    I guess it depends on the model of phone, and whether you're using a hands free microphone.
  • super-connected (Score:2, Insightful)

    by brother bloat (888898)
    in a time and place where cell phones have become affixed to our ears, the subway system once provided a welcome relief from the people who talk to thin air. practically anywhere else you go (out to dinner, at the movies, walking down the street), the everpresent hoards of obnoxious cell-phoners have taken over. it might be argued the subway has become one of the few urban areas where people are actually likely to talk to the people around them or to take in their surroundings. in small doses technologic
  • The Stockholm subway has had this for years. :-)

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